Disclaimer: Martin Flores was previously a reporter for The Phoenix.
In an unopposed and unconventional election as Loyola students vacated campus to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — the illness caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus — Maddie Drescher and Martin Flores are running for president and vice president of Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC), respectively. The duo said some of their priorities are establishing a secondary crime alert system and divesting from fossil fuels.
Voting for SGLC elections opened Thursday and runs through Sunday. Students can access the ballots through a message received in their Loyola emails. Only 13 percent of the student body voted last year, following a trend of declining voter turn-out, The Phoenix reported.
While this campaign might not be many students’ number one priority after moving off-campus due to the spread of COVID-19, Drescher said she’s still thinking about how to improve civic engagement. Drescher said she has considered contacting Loyola Votes — a Loyola libraries initiative to encourage voting — to apply their strategies to on-campus voting.
SGLC is divided into executive, legislative and judicial branches. It represents the student body and passes legislation to improve student life on campus — from making Loyola’s Information Commons open 24 hours during the school week to bringing Lucky Charms back in the dining halls, The Phoenix reported.
Drescher, a 21-year-old junior double majoring in political science and psychology, has been involved with SGLC since her first year at Loyola and has previously worked as a senator. She’s running alongside 21-year-old junior Martin Flores, who served as an associate justice on the judicial branch this past year.
They said their campaign is focused on long-term changes in the areas of inclusion, sustainability, wellness and safety. They said they hope to improve the administration’s communication with the student body, especially crime alerts — emails sent to students when a crime occurs on or near campus
Loyola’s private police force, Campus Safety, has been criticized for not notifying students about crime in the area, The Phoenix reported. That’s why Drescher said their “number one” plan is to push for a secondary crime alert system — something they said SGLC has talked about this year in meetings with university marketing and communications.
The Clery Act — a federal law requiring universities that receive federal funding to be transparent about crime on or around university campuses — only covers certain geography, but Drescher said the university can still use a secondary opt-in system to report on areas outside the law.
Drescher emphasized they’re striving for “continuity,” or continuing to work on legislation and issues from previous years. SGLC has been criticized for not doing enough, despite being the only student group with a direct line to Loyola’s administration, according to a January 2019 Phoenix staff editorial. Drescher said she thinks this stems from SGLC lacking cohesiveness between years. She said issues students care about, such as divestment, aren’t “a one-and-done situation.”
Flores said they’re fully behind Loyola’s divestment from fossil fuels, a non-renewable energy resource, inching the university toward being a “waste-free LUC.” Through incremental changes, their goal is for Loyola to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest those funds into Rogers Park and Edgewater.
They also said they plan to embed wellness resources throughout the university instead of just in Loyola’s Wellness Center. Drescher referenced Loyola’s recent additions of a counselor for students of color in the Damen Student Center and a counselor in the Sullivan Center who works with students in the Student Accessibility Center, Office of First-Year Experience and Financial Aid Office. She said they’re interested in seeing their success and adding counselors in places such as residence halls.
The two spoke about encouraging professors to add language about mental health resources to their syllabi “because the classroom is one place we can guarantee all Loyola students can get this information.”
Drescher said they plan to advocate for representation of minorities throughout the university and more student space on campus, specifically for affinity-based groups.
“Not only with those groups in mind, but in accordance with them,” Drescher said, adding she recently spoke with a group of students about accessibility on campus.