Student Vice Presidential Candidates Debate Priorities and Strategies

Olivia Miller | The PhoenixMario Guerrero (left), Ben Franc (center) and Thomas Sallese (right) spoke about their platforms and answered questions at the second debate leading up the the election of new student government president and vice presidents.

Ahead of the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) elections later this week, the three vice presidential candidates faced off in a debate Monday night in Damen Den.

Around a dozen students were in attendance to watch the candidates interact with each other, the moderator and students in the audience. 

The candidates for vice president — Ben Franc, Mario Guerrero and Thomas Sallese — each laid out their plan which, if elected, they said would improve the university and benefit students.

Franc said he would focus on improving SGLC’s accountability and outreach to Loyola’s administration and students as well as its accessibility and community. Regular listening sessions and panels would give students more opportunities to speak out about problems and get answers, according to Franc. 

For Guerrero, his priorities are sustainability by partnering with the Student Environmental Alliance, inclusivity by expanding student organizations, safety by pushing for a better relationship with Campus Safety and accessibility by advocating for students with disabilities. In order to make productive change, these areas must be the mission for all of the SGLC, according to Guerrero.

Sallese said Registered Student Organizations, student commuters and the Student Accessibility Center would be his focus. Student groups deserve to have more direct communication with the Loyola administration, feel at-home on campus and have improved access to university resources, according to Sallese. 

One of the questions asked at the debate was about how each candidate would work with Loyola’s Arrupe College — a two-year liberal arts degree program for low-income students.

Guerrero said Arrupe College is an expansion of Loyola, so it should be treated as a part of the university. The first step is bridging the gap between the Loyola community and Arrupe, which he said can be done by continuing the conversation with Arrupe students until they feel a part of the student body. 

While Franc said he agrees with Guerrero, he said he wouldn’t only bridge the gap but also collaborate. Working together is the most important thing between individuals and between organizations, Franc said. 

Sallese agreed and added he believes it’s important to educate the rest of the Loyola community about Arrupe College. The idea is to find the middle ground between these two identities at Loyola, according to Sallese. 

Another question addressed Loyola, It’s Time (LIT), an online forum to give feedback, to SGLC and how each candidate would go about solving problems submitted through the forum. 

Franc clarified LIT isn’t controlled by the executive branch — the president and vice president — but rather the student government senate. If elected, he would keep up to date with the issues students are bringing to their attention because he said he wants to be as transparent as possible.

For Sallese, a “streamline” process would be more efficient and satisfying for the student body. Instead of having committees respond to concerns with a statement, Sallese said the solution is making direct contact with someone who specializes in the student’s specific request.

Guerrero said SGLC should promote and encourage the usage of LIT more frequently, which includes informing the student body of which resources they have access to and how to use them.

The candidates were asked what they don’t like about SGLC. In their responses, each candidate referenced their platforms which included some of the changes and improvements they’d like to see if elected. 

This is the second debate of SGLC’s election season. The first debate had presidential candidates Sophie Yano, Kathleen Meis and Harsh Patel debate March 13. The final presidential debate is set for March 20 at 7 p.m. in Damen Cinema and voting will take place March 21-22 through ballots sent to students’ Loyola email addresses. 

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