SGA Presidential Candidates Discuss Goals, Prospects
Candidates Hugo Rosen and Michael Whitaker / Credits: David Sipos
Walls students will vote on Thursday to select the next president of the Student Government Association (SGA). Incumbent SGA president Hugo Rosen, a current junior elected last year, is running for reelection. However, he is being challenged by senior Michael Whitaker and junior Amay Arora.
Daya George served as co-president last year, but did not file to run for reelection. She did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Although George and Rosen served as co-presidents last year, there will only be one president this year, though students will vote for a vice president. Junior Ainhoa Aron is running for that position unopposed.
In a second term, Rosen said his focus would be on holding successful school events. “I could probably improve on the actual logistics of planning events,” he acknowledged, noting last year’s pep rally as a source of disappointment. Rosen listed a number of new events that Walls could host this year: “In the past we’ve had a Thanksgiving feast, there’s the possibility of a winter dance, there’s always the possibility of a better pep rally.”
Whitaker is making diversity and inclusion a central part of his campaign. He said his goal would be “fighting for more inclusion and fighting for the voices of minorities.” He hopes his position as vice president of the Black Student Union (BSU) will help his efforts at inclusivity.
Arora entered the race later than Whitaker and Rosen. He ran for co-president last year but was unsuccessful. Arora is a junior, but participates in the GW Early College Program (GWECP). Now, he said that the core goal of his campaign to challenge Rosen is “to bridge the communication gap” that exists not just between students and administration but between Walls and GW.
If elected, he wants to make GW facilities, which he currently uses as a GWECP student, available to all Walls students. He touted a number of potential benefits from opening GW facilities to Walls, saying, “I want to make sure all students have access to these facilities for the sake of clubs and sports.” Additionally, he said, “As long as these facilities are available to everyone that would benefit the school in so many other ways.” Arora intends to work with his GWECP advisor and GW athletics to accomplish this.
Rosen says he has upheld his 2021 campaign promise to be highly responsive to students. Rosen says that he has gotten many questions from students and that he “tried to answer all those questions to the best of my ability.” He also says he has represented Walls students in their best interests, citing how he spoke at an LSAT meeting in support of greater school funding. He promised to continue representing students this way if reelected.
Rosen is currently focused on the homecoming dance, planned for Nov. 4. “Homecoming went really well last year, hopefully this year it will be somewhat similar,” he said. SGA has already successfully secured an indoor venue for the dance, a change from last year’s outdoor setting, which many students complained was too cold.
Rosen sounded a positive note on reelection. “I expected someone to run against me so I’m not very surprised, but I just hope through campaigning… I can show people I’m their best option,” he said.
He added that he was quite friendly with Whitaker. “I’ve known Michael for two years and I think if he won he would make a good president,” he said.
One of the challenges all three candidates face as upperclassmen is to connect with sophomores and freshmen. “I feel like I know a decent number of sophomores by now, and I’m trying to get to know the freshmen,” Rosen said. He said his focus is on relating to them, adding that he’s “trying to remember what it was like to be a freshman and a sophomore.”
While he is a senior, “everyone knows me,” Whitaker said, promising that he can work for all students, regardless of grade. Whitaker views his campaign as just a matter of “going up and starting a normal conversation.”
Arora plans to reach out to other grades through social media. He said that this is the most effective means of communicating his ideas. Although he has centered his campaign around GW, this also creates a challenge for Arora to connect with students. In response, he said, “I care about the Walls community just as much as I would about my own position at GW.” He added that he plans to spend more time in the Commons before school starts and that he often interacts with students at lunch.
Whitaker offered many unique ideas that he hopes to implement as SGA president. SGA has mostly served to plan events like school dances or pep rallies, but Whitaker said he wanted to “do a lot more events in the school.” These included helping students with résumés, college applications, and potential mentorship programs. “We’re not just having [SGA] be ‘we plan homecoming,’ but actually do things,” Whitaker explained. Although in SGA meetings Whitaker participated in homecoming planning, he made clear his vision for SGA is more active than Rosen’s vision.
Whitaker sounded an optimistic tone about the election, saying, “I think I have a fair chance, I try really hard to be nice and talk to everybody.” Additionally, he has used his role in BSU leadership to reach out to students.
Whitaker said he wants to “put my legacy as a Walls student and a senior into Walls before I graduate.”
Regardless of the outcome of the election, Whitaker will still go to SGA meetings and contribute his ideas. “If I win, that would be great, I would love to be president,” he said. “If I don't, I support Hugo in his presidency.”
Arora considers the election a contest between himself and Rosen. “I really feel as though this race is going to come down between me and Hugo,” he said, “because I really feel I can support this Walls community best.” He added that the election could come down to the votes of the junior class and whether they back him or Rosen. Though he came up short last year, he feels more confident about his chances this year. If he does not win, he said he plans to keep going to SGA meetings.
Students can begin casting their votes after candidates deliver speeches during advisory Oct. 26.