The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Senate election campaigns underway

(Douglas Reyes-Ceron)

Community Senate elections will be held on Monday, April 4. This is a chance for all traditional students to have a say in who represents the student body.

This year’s election is different from recent elections because there are no tickets. Every candidate runs alone for the office they want.

“The switch to individual tickets is exciting,” said senior Patchouli Oerther, vice president of Community Senate and chair of the election committee. “It helps bring in a variety of people. It also helps avoid some of the problems tickets have faced in the past, like disqualifications, and leaves more room for dealing with human error.”

The candidates this year are Yahya Alazrak, Elijah Dacosta, and Cate Schurz for president;

Brian Jones and Justin Williams-Blackwell for vice president; Peter-Lawrence Terrell and Karen Turner for treasurer; and Erich Pohanka for secretary. There is a write-in option for uncontested elections. The Guilfordian sat down with the three presidential candidates to find out what is most important to them in this year’s election.


What is your reason for running?

Yahya Alazrak, junior religious studies and community and justice studies double major: My love for Guilford and the ways Guilford has changed my life. Dana (Hamdan, current president of Community Senate) has changed Senate and given more power to students. I want to continue that, representing and serving students as much as possible.

Elijah Dacosta, junior biology major: I want to create a unified campus. I want to be able to create a space where we are not just talking about a problem but offering solutions to it.

Cate Schurz, sophomore criminal justice and political science double major: I love Guilford, and I want to create a space where students can build a shared community. It’s important to bring people together so we can recognize our commonalities, not our differences.


What strengths and skills will you bring to Senate?

Alazrak: I’ve been involved in a lot of clubs, and I work in the Greenleaf. It’s helped me learn to share leadership roles and to work in a consensus-based process. I’m a convinced Friend and I would work to uphold Quaker values, processes, and principles. I see the role of Senate president as more of a clerkship than a true presidency. I’ve developed the skills to talk to the administration that I would need as president.

Dacosta: I’m a really good listener — I like to hear from all sides before making a decision. I’m really open and I love talking to people and hearing what they have to say. I’m committed to everything that I do, from being in CAB to being an RA to going to Senate meetings.

Schurz: I’ve made it my goal to be as involved as possible in this community. Every corner of Guilford — and there are a lot of corners — is important to the whole. I’m the president of the College Democrats, the second year representative to Senate, have served on the Judicial Board, and am active in QLSP. Being a political science major has given me political knowledge and experience. I’ve done internships that taught me how to delegate and communicate. I’ve been juggling work and school. If I can do all that now, then as president, the issue won’t be the task at hand as much as what needs to be accomplished.


What do you want to see happen in Senate next year?

Alazrak: I want to continue working on the social honor code and make it something that students can get behind to use as a platform to make institutional changes. Senate should protect students’ rights but also work with the students, administration, RAs and public safety to make sure that everyone is respected. Senate should foster collaborative relationships and figure out ways to bring people together.

Dacosta: I want to have a unifying rather than aggressive policy. People should be a part of and aware of the changes that Senate makes. I want to open up the lines of communication between students and the administration, faculty, and staff. Clubs should be communicating with Senate and each other. Senate should be communicating with students. Transforming our core values into action is important to me — we should practice what we preach. I also want to have more efficiency and transparency in fund allocation. I want to reform Inter-Club Council so it’s actually useful to clubs, not just something they have to go to, and increase support for student organizations.

Schurz: My priority is unifying the campus. Every student wants to have the best possible Guilford experience. If students can vocalize what that means to them, then Senate would be a better place. Its reputation would improve, participation would improve, it would be more inclusive Senate is a place for everyone. I don’t want anyone to feel that their idea, their voice, is less important is anyone else’s. That is not the way Guilford is supposed to be. The Quaker business meeting process has fallen apart and transformed into a process of voting. With voting, a few voices can dominate the floor. I’d want to appoint someone to oversee the business meeting process who can hold the meeting together and keep us on track. This would restore the integrity of the Senate process.


What challenges do you see regarding Senate?

Alazrak: I don’t think Senate should pass anything unless the students care, unless they want it. And there’s a continued theme of involvement; students should support each other, and Senate should create a mentality of supportiveness.

Dacosta: The student body is underrepresented at Senate meetings. There are over 1,400 students at Guilford, and the same 40 are at every Senate meeting. It’s a small group making policies that affect everyone. A big challenge is outreach to the students — it should be all the time, to everyone. There is often a lot of tension at meetings when there are heated discussions between groups. It’s the job of the executive board to be pragmatic and non-partisan. The president shouldn’t dictate the discussion, but facilitate it and make sure that all voices are heard. Senate should promote the welfare of the student body. Uniting students is the number one goal.

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