The Spectrum endorses Students Reform presidential, vice presidential candidates but doesn't endorse a treasurer


The Spectrum unanimously agrees that Students Reform Party presidential and vice presidential ticket is grounded in practical policy.

We endorse these candidates for SA’s top two positions in the 2019-20 school year.

But we couldn’t agree on this year’s race for SA treasurer.

We support Students Reform candidates Omran Albarazanchi and Daniel Connolly because of their internal focus on SA, from their visions for the student government’s website to their plans for more engagement in SA Senate. They’re ambitious and their party’s name is more than an aesthetically pleasing acronymized pull for students to vote for them. 

All SA candidates running for e-board came into The Spectrum’s office on Wednesday afternoon and presented their platforms. Albarazanchi and Connolly came in with calls to change SA from within. They criticized SA’s website as well as its media & marketing team, and laid out plans to overhaul its practices.

Their solutions are feasible, too.

They preach that they will prioritize clubs and they know how clubs work, given their experiences in the SA Senate. They want the room reservation system to be “less painful,” according to their platform, and look to bring council constitutions to SA’s website as opposed to print.

The Spectrum also supports the candidates’ goals for club requirements and its “easier-to-read” handbooks. A purchase order tracking system for clubs is the definition of internal SA transparency, too. We hope the winning treasurer instills this.

We caution the candidates to reconsider their one-music-fest initiative. Still, we think most of the party’s goals are realistic to instill in a student government.

The other parties focused largely on advocacy, such as environmentalism and diversity initiatives. Both are important, and The Spectrum has covered topics, such as the UB Foundation’s fracking investments and decreasing black faculty on campus. 

Our calls as students are important and we encourage SA e-board candidates to be advocates for student interests. But we were also looking for candidates who understand their own roles within SA, and have concrete ideas for improving their own office functions and student life. 

The P.R.I.D.E. Party, for instance, refused to make “promises.” How can students expect a change if they can’t even get their elected leaders’ word?

When we asked questions to individual P.R.I.D.E. candidates in our office, they often consulted with the rest of their party before their answer. This concerns us. If you can’t memorize your own agenda, how can students believe you’re unified in your “priorities”? 

Additionally, we’re confused by their rationale behind mandatory sexual violence training for UB athletes and Inter-Greek Council organizations. Sexual violence can happen anywhere, even within SA. We hope our student government leaders take sexual violence training seriously throughout campus life, not just on a limited population.

The CLEAR party is ambitious about the environment and we are, too. Sadie Kratt, the CLEAR party’s presidential candidate, said she hopes to advocate at the SUNY SA level for a greener campus. She cited SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. 

But after a report by online database LittleSis that Johnson was a board member for a coal power company, we question whether SUNY is the best foot to follow on environmental goals. Still, even though we don’t endorse CLEAR, we want to see a few of their initiatives put into place, especially those that put UB and SA first.

Aside from the president and VP candidates, we couldn’t make up our minds on the best SA treasurer candidate. 

CLEAR party treasurer candidate Eric Weinman is qualified. But his platform has some contradictions. He said he helped create the finance handbook but argued it’s too lengthy for students to understand. 

Kendra Harris, the P.R.I.D.E. party’s treasurer candidate, is also qualified. She’s treasurer for one of UB’s biggest clubs, the Black Student Union. But we barely got a chance to hear her ideas during our open office Q&A, as the rest of her party often interrupted her answers or cut her short. This isn’t OK. 

Jaycee Miller, the Students Reform treasurer candidate, has ideas that could fix SA’s financial policies, like her online-friendly club requirement modules. She has experience with finances on the high school level, but we don’t know how her experience could translate to the role.

We unanimously agreed that the Going Forward, Going Blue party candidate Marina Akaic doesn’t seem ready for the role. We appreciate her enthusiasm and her willingness to get involved with SA. We think she’s eager to learn, but it’s likely impossible for anyone to just give the SA treasurer role a go with zero experience.

Nonetheless, The Spectrum is proud that more than one party is set to take part in this year’s elections. 

We hope it will buck the trend of decreasing student government participation.

But we’re disappointed about the attendance of Thursday’s SA candidate open forum. The Spectrum counted five students there. CLEAR party treasurer Eric Weinman said he thought the showout was “representative of everyone who cares.”

We hope this isn’t the case come Tuesday, when polls open in the Student Union Theater. We hope students take time to think about who they want in charge of SA and we hope this year’s voter turnout is better than ever before. 

The editorial board can be reached at opinion@ubspectrum.com.