Student Government Elections and Sustainability
The student government association, or SGA, has an election coming up and sustainability is at the forefront of candidates’ minds.
There are two slates running for president, Kathan Ramnath with vice president Giovanni Falco and Charlie Zhang with vice president Matty Coleman. SGA has been involved with sustainability in the past, the organization has both a student sustainability subcommittee and green initiatives board. The student sustainability subcommittee is a liaison between environmentally focused organizations on campus and university administration. The Green Initiatives Board manages the sustainability fund.
The first slate is made up of potential president Kathan Ramnath and running mate Giovanni Falco. Ramnath is a third-year business administration and economics combined major with a health sciences minor. Ramnath has previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at SGA after serving as a presidential ambassador and senator representing the D’Amore-McKim business school.
Giovanni Falco is a second-year criminal justice and combined major who is assistant vice president of the Academic affairs committee on SGA and a member of the NUPD advisory board. He has also served as a Senator and is currently a co-op for Congressman David Trone at the U.S. House of representatives.
They are focused on listening to students and student groups to ensure that students have a say in their university’s policies and practices. According to Ramnath, most of the real work gets done in committees so if students are interested in sustainability, they should join student organizations or the sustainability subcommittee. They also expressed interest in getting involved with Divest NU’s efforts and helping Northeastern move away from fossil fuels as a whole.
“I think, you know, one of the big things from my perspective at a high level is to make sure that we are actually proactively reaching out to those other groups on campus who eat, sleep, breathe, sustainability, and try and figure out how we can partner with them to make sure that people actually know about a lot of sustainability initiatives that are on campus,” Ramnath said.
Some of their specific goals related to sustainability includes converting NUPD and red line cars to electric or hybrid cars to help reduce the university’s reliance on fossil fuels. Additionally, they hope to improve bike safety so that students are incentivized to bike. Ramnath proposes an enclosed locked room that students can access via Husky card so that there are less damaged or stolen bikes.
SGA is trying to get an on-campus medical service, which would also be electric or hybrid.
Ramnath and Falco recognize that both Northeastern administration and SGA procedures are “very complicated and confusing” with an emphasis on procedure. They hope to shift SGA towards actionable items that will improve students experience on campus and ensure SGA is listening to students no matter what capacity they are acting in.
“The big thing to amplify is, contrary to popular belief, we’re here for the students and we’re here to make sure that work is getting done no matter where we are, no matter if we’re in the Senate chambers or if we’re just going to a club meeting on a random Tuesday,” Falco said.
The other slate, made up of potential president Charlie Zhang and running mate Matty Coleman. Charlie Zhang, a third-year Sociology and International Business combined major, has previously been a vice president for student services committee in SGA. Coleman has previously held leadership positions on the Student Services committee and in the Lean on Me student mental health support club.
Both Zhang and Coleman have previously been involved with sustainability efforts. Zhang is on the food advisory board where he works with NU dining to reduce waste and make food more accessible for students. If elected, the pair hopes to increase composting within dining services and convert more food waste into compost to be used on the Northeastern campus by groups like the Gardening club on campus. Zhang also has volunteered with the food pantry through NU mutual aid, which takes place every Wednesday.
Coleman works more with holistic wellness and is student chair of the holistic wellness working group, which is a new committee dedicated to both mental and physical wellbeing of students. They believe sustainability is extremely intertwined with student wellbeing and success.
“Admittedly, we’ve only had two meetings so far, so we haven’t gotten the ball rolling in terms of like getting stuff on the ground, but it’s something that is very much in progress and I’m very thrilled that we’ve been able to adapt this commitment to sustainability and keeping sustainable practices in mind into the board,” Coleman said.
They also work with the Breakfast Club, which is an off-campus group that participates in neighborhood cleanups on Sunday mornings in local neighborhoods as well as Lean on Me, a peer support text line at Northeastern.
Zhang and Coleman are also planning on improving access to menstrual hygiene products and creating a program within resident halls where there are communal cleaning products to reduce waste. Additionally, they plan to work closely with the campus planning advisory board to implement green infrastructure on campus and help transition campus to renewable energy. Zhang also works with the Northeastern recreation department and wants to encourage outdoor recreation and reduce energy consumption in gyms.
The slate emphasized communication among SGA and constituents and indents to “drastically shake up how things are done.” They hope to make SGA more approachable and ensure that everyone’s voices are heard.
“I think, [in] whatever capacity that we can, we will always like commit to sustainable practices because this is our one world and it’s our way to make an impact on the challenges facing this world and have a positive impact on the planet and the people around us,” Zhang said.
Voting starts Monday, March 20 and closes March 26. Ballots will be available on the student hub.
Written by Renée Abbott, March 21st, 2023