O’Dea, Levine kick off campaigns: Presidential, senatorial candidates begin race to 2017 elections

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March 14, 2017

12:04 AM

The 324th session of the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly saw the creation of a website designed to let students review local landlords, the codification of support for immigrants and victims of sexual assault, and the purchase of water for students affected by lead levels in Jefferson Hall. Students will elect new representatives March 23, marking the end of this SA session.

This year’s contenders for SA President are current Chairman of the Senate Danny O’Dea ’18 and Elijah Levine ’18. Their running mates are Nami Srikanth ’19 and Sen. Annelise Yackow ’18, respectively.

O’Dea, who has been a member of the SA senate since his freshman year, said that his experience this year as chairman of the senate would help him fulfill the position of SA president.

I ran for Student Assembly Senate as a freshman because I’ve grown up believing that, when you have the opportunity to help someone, you have the responsibility to help someone,” O’Dea said.

“I ran for Student Assembly Senate as a freshman because I’ve grown up believing that, when you have the opportunity to help someone, you have the responsibility to help someone,” O’Dea said. “I have an immense love for the College as well as the extraordinary opportunity to change it for the better, and those are two facts I am extremely conscious of every time I walk into the senate, with every bill I write and with every time I speak. In my time in the senate I have been able to sponsor bills that help sexual assault survivors, work for community service events that help the campus and our town around us and promote a Student Assembly that takes a more active interest in the student body.”

Levine, who has never held a position in SA, said that he and Yackow’s platform is based on ideas and experiences of students who are “silenced” because of their identities.

The platform is two-pronged, and Levine said he aims to dissolve cultural biases with institutional measures to foster a community of awareness.

“SA and other arbiters of power espouse democracy so much. We feel it’s time to live up to those ideals and give students the floor,” Levine said. “This means activating the potential of student groups by connecting them to the resources they need to carry out their missions, thus empowering them. As a three-year member of SA, Annelise has the institutional knowledge to effectively run the senate, and I’ve made student connections that position me as a unique insider, living within the student body unhampered by the distance that accompanies years in SA.”

Current Class of 2018 President Laini Boyd ’18, Class of 2019 President Jonah Yesowitz ’19 and Class of 2020 President Kelsey Vita ’20 are running unopposed for re-election.

Yesowitz, who faced opposition last year when he ran for re-election, said that he feels that no matter what, it is his job to make the College a better place.

“William and Mary is consistently ranked to have one of the smartest student bodies in the country,” Yesowitz said. “As representatives of this body, it’s our duty to exceed the expectations of this base. We are put into a position where we can enact lasting change and have the responsibility to take that seriously and actually walk the walk. My promise has always been that I would do all I can to make William and Mary a better campus for everybody, and whether I’m running against nine other candidates or unopposed, that promise will never change.”

Joining current Sen. Alaina Shreves ’18 and Sen. Colleen Heberle ’18 are Jack Bowden ’18 and William Jackson ’18 in the race to represent the class of 2018 in the SA senate. Bel Kelly-Russo ’18 had declared her intention to run, but dropped before campaigns started March 13.

Bowden, a transfer student from Thomas Nelson Community College, said that he wants to represent students who are not currently represented in the senate. During his first semester at the College, Bowden has gotten involved with Ultimate Frisbee, Steer Clear and the Association for Computing Machinery.

“I’ve decided to run for many reasons, the biggest being to represent under-heard voices and concerns at the university,” Bowden said in an email. “I transferred to William & Mary after completing an associate’s degree at Williamsburg’s community college, where I was elected Senator and later Vice President of the community college’s student government to represent Williamsburg students … one of the things I feel I may effectively improve amongst others is the transparency and coverage of Student Assembly through greater outreach to the Class of 2018 and the student body.”

For the class of 2019, Sen. Alexis Payne ’19, Sen. Shannon Dutchie ’19, Sen. Sikander Zakriya ’19 and Sen. Brendan Boylan ’19 are joined by Alexander Galas ’19 in the race to represent the class of 2019 in the senate. Payne, Dutchie, Zakriya and Boylan are all currently serving in their second terms as senators.

Galas said he chose to run this year because he is dissatisfied with things at the College. He said that while he is not more qualified than other candidates, his platform distinguishes him. He cited his experiences in his high school’s student government and with Model U.N. and Model U.S. Senate as background that prepares him for such a role.

As well as trying to support mental health, transparency, and diversity, I want to support our artists through the creation of a system hiring several artists to serve other students and RSOs,” Galas said in an email.

“As well as trying to support mental health, transparency, and diversity, I want to support our artists through the creation of a system hiring several artists to serve other students and RSOs,” Galas said in an email. “I would like to reform flex and make it more useful; serving on both the SA and SCC [Student Culinary Council] will give me the connections necessary to assess our opportunities here. Other points include making voting easier for those of us who have class, improving the paths (both in the woods and not) and making certain deadlines more reasonable, such as the two-day move out rule.”

The class of 2020 race is made up of Sen. Sarah MacPhee ’20, Clare DaBaldo ’20, Ellie Thomas ’20 and Noah Ferris ’20 and newcomers John Muchnikoff ’20 and Ben Russo ’20.

Muchnikoff said the main areas of his platform focus on sustainability and environmentalism, mental health and student involvement in campus life.

“I chose to run because I’ve always been really interested in changing the way that administrations operate,” Muchnikoff said in an email. “I like talking to people, and from that I hear a lot about what they think could be improved or what they’d like to see from the school in general. I believe that these concerns go unnoticed because people get so busy nowadays that they don’t have time to go out and try to make change for themselves. It is my belief that it is any representative body’s job to go out, hear what people have to say and make that change happen … Now that I’ve had some time to absorb what really needs attention on campus, I want to take the campus communities’ ideas and get them implemented.”

Elections are March 23 and will be conducted by an electronic ballot that day.

“I would love to see more brainstorming and ingenuity in this next session,” Yesowitz said. “The Student Assembly can sometimes limit itself with its own expectations and notions, and I want to see that stay with the 324th session. We need to think bigger, think bolder and focus our attention to how we can use the resources at our disposal to solve the big issues in creative new ways.”

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Sarah Smith

News Editor Sarah Smith '19 is an international relations and gender, sexuality, and women's studies major from Ashburn, VA. She formerly served as Associate News Editor.