SGLC Hosts Series of Candidate Debates Ahead of Spring Elections

Election season is fully underway in the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) for the 2023-2024 school year. Candidates for chief justice, vice president and president faced off in a series of debates on Lake Shore Campus.

Content warning: verbal harassment 

Election season is fully underway in the Student Government of Loyola Chicago (SGLC) for the 2023-2024 school year. Candidates for chief justice, vice president and president faced off in a series of debates on Lake Shore Campus.

Voting opens to all students at 5:00 p.m. April 5. An electronic ballot will be sent to university emails, where it can be cast until April 10.


Four candidates running for SGLC President gathered in the Damen Cinema for a public debate April 4. The event was moderated by two student members of SGLC, who prompted the candidates with prewritten questions and opened up the floor to questions from the audience.

An SGLC president is tasked with nominating senators to committee positions, ratifying or vetoing legislation and creating new administrative procedures, according to the SGLC Articles of Governance (AOG). 

Alexandra Brist, a junior majoring in bilingual and bicultural education, opened the debate speaking about the three years she has spent in SGLC and the time she has spent working with the Wellness Center and Board of Trustees.

Brist said she has been most successful in making change on campus through her work with Aramark, the company responsible for dining services at Loyola. In her work with Aramark, she said she advocated for further safety precautions for those with food allergies within the university, an issue she said she has personally struggled with. 

“I started working with Aramark because I recognized the systemic issues from a food allergy intolerance and food safety perspective,” Brist said.

Aramark did not respond to requests for comment by time of publication.

Ben Bryan, a sophomore biology major and Brist’s running mate, was described by Brist as a hard-working senator and community service leader. Brist says Bryan is personable and will bring a diverse lens to their decisions and goals as leaders.

Hannah Yun, a junior molecular and cellular neuroscience major, is finishing her second year of involvement in SGLC. She introduced herself by speaking on the efforts she has taken to close the communication gap between the student body and members of SGLC.

Yun said if she wins the election, she hopes to provide forums for discussion between students and the senate, and more strictly enforce what is known as the engagement requirement. This initiative requires all senators to make contact with the student body once a month, through setting up meetings with Registered Student Organizations or by sending emails and collaborating with student groups, according to Yun. 

“In past years, the engagement requirement was more loosely informed, and this year I took the responsibility to oversee it more seriously,” Yun told The Phoenix. “I would encourage more of that.”

Colette Benoit, a sophomore studying environmental science and cultural education and Yun’s running mate, was described by Yun as being trustworthy and hardworking. Yun said they are best friends and work very well as a team. 

Kendall Moore, a sophomore double majoring in criminal justice and criminology and political science who joined the debate over Zoom from New York, said her greatest asset is the time she spent away from SGLC in the last year. She said during the time she spent serving as a senator last year, she felt forced to resign following alleged verbal harassment from her peers.

“I am so glad I got to hear from all the candidates, and I am glad I got to answer questions from all the candidates as I know I was kind of off-campus during this campaign period, and I’m not in SGLC, so I don’t really interact with them on a daily basis,” Moore said. “I am glad to have this platform to really understand what everyone is striving for.”

Moore said her running mate, Joseph “Zasha” Kosman, a junior studying political science, is an unfailing partner who inspires conversations about moving forward as a student government. 

Moore said she wanted to emphasize she and her running mate are here to create change for the student body, through the improvement of Campus Safety through easier access to the 8-RIDE program. Moore also said she hopes to improve transgender student equity within healthcare programs on campus.

Adnan Aldaas, a finance major who has spent a year involved in SGLC as a senator, said he wants the main focus for his campaign to be creating transparency between SGLC and the student body. 

“One thing I hope that the student body takes away is that I’m here for everybody,” Aldaas said. “I want the SGLC to be more accessible to students, because it’s really not.”

As a member of the Muslim faith, Aldaas said he hopes to bring awareness to the high diversity of students who all exist on campus. 

Nick Myers, a third year student studying finance and Aldaas’ running mate, was called a strong candidate by Aldaas. Aldaas said Myers’ time as President of Tau Kappa Epsilon gave him the skills needed to handle the finances and operations of SGLC.

Vice President

Four candidates are running for Vice President, each is running on a shared ticket with a corresponding presidential candidate. Using the same format of pre-prepared and audience questions, the debate was held on April 3 in Cuneo Hall. 

An SGLC vice president serves as the liaison to the University Senate, an advisory board of faculty, the Student Government of Arrupe College and the Loyola student body. They also oversee the activities of presidential appointees within the SGLC, according to the AOG.

Benoit called in from Spain, where she is studying abroad. She said she volunteers weekly with local schools, works with admissions to greet new students and has served on a number of SGLC committees. She is running with Yun.

Benoit and Yun’s campaign is centered on accessibility, sustainability and safety. Benoit said she has experience working with administrators, student organizations and individual students. She also said her experience on the Campus Life and Operations Committee, Event Planning Committee and as chair of the Safety and Wellness Committee would help her effectively serve as Vice President. 

“I noticed there’s a serious need for the Student Government of Loyola Chicago to further engage with the Loyola student body,” Benoit said. “If I’m elected, I promise I will definitely bridge this gap, ensuring that the voices of students are not only heard, but that they feel like they have an outlet for change that is through the SGLC.”

Bryan is chairman of the Safety and Wellness Committee and serves as the Community Service Chair and the Ritual Manager for campus fraternity Sigma Chi. He said he has helped plan community service events and helped pledges through the initiation process in his fraternity.

Bryan said he and Brist plan on improving diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI), as well as safety and accessibility on campus. He said he supports the Gender Inclusive Housing Resolution would promote housing options with inclusive bathrooms for gender nonconforming students, while the Opioid Resources and Safety Resolution would bring Narcan and fentanyl testing strips to campus.

“Because this university resides in Chicago, we the student body are at risk of being affected by the opioid epidemic that is continuing to increase as years go by,” Bryan said.

Last fall, Kosman sponsored the Freedom of Information Act, allowing anyone to request SGLC documents for viewing, The Phoenix previously reported. He is also the president of Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian American interest fraternity.

Kosman is running with Moore on a wide-ranging platform. Kosman said it includes accessibility, academic affairs, campus safety, mental and physical health, transparency, sustainability, DEI and student organization funding. Kosman said he and Moore collaborated on planning Lambda Phi Epsilon events, primarily during the pandemic. 

Kosman said he and Moore are also concerned about the culture of divisiveness within SGLC. 

“While this may seem like a large framework, we think that the SGLC needs a revitalization, and that takes big dreams and big aspirations,” Kosman said. “We believe we can achieve great things when we work together.”

In his previous position of Philanthropy Chair for Tau Kappa Epsilon, Myers said he assisted in planning a St. Jude Gala in the Damen Multipurpose Room in February 2020, which raised $20,000 for the children’s hospital.

Myers said he leads through inclusion, collaboration and delegation to achieve tangible progress.

“I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact of student involvement and engagement can happen on campus,” Myers said. “If elected as your vice president, I will use my experiences and skills to represent the interests of all students and ensure that their voices are heard.”

Chief Justice

Two sophomore students are vying for leadership in the judicial branch of SGLC. Each answered four pre-prepared questions, followed by three questions from the audience. The debate was held in the Damen Den on March 31.

The SGLC chief justice oversees member complaints, committee bylaws and legislation, whether it is passed by majority vote or not, according to the AOG.

Paige Gutierrez, a marketing major currently studying abroad in Seville, Spain, joined the debate over Zoom. She began by pledging her adherence to the ethics code in SGLC’s AOG. She said her experience with multiple student organizations and within SGLC made her most qualified. 

Gutierrez was one of SGLC’s Associate Communication Officers and sat on the boards of three student organizations during the fall 2022 semester. She said she will continue to study the AOG to make up for having less experience on the legislative side. 

Gutierrez said that while her opponent has spent more time in SGLC, the time she has spent in other organizations makes up for it.

“Even though the other candidate has more experience in this organization, neither one of us have experience on the judicial branch,” Gutierrez told The Phoenix. “I do have experience in other areas where I have learned transferable skills.”

Kathryn Cantrell, a sophomore mathematics major, emphasized her experience within SGLC. She said she is currently the Allocations Committee Chairperson and has connected with more than 100 student organizations in distributing Student Activity Funds. Cantrell said she advocated for student organizations who requested an exemption from a policy mandating that all catering be done through Aramark.

Loyola began its partnership with Aramark for all of its student organization dining and catering services, The Phoenix previously reported.

Cantrell has also served on the budget review, fall elections and governance committees during her time as a SGLC senator. She said this experience in the legislative branch could not be compensated for by studying the AOG.

“As a legislator over the past two terms within the Student Government of Loyola Chicago, I feel there is no substitution for legislative experience,” Cantrell said. “I truly feel the art of governing is something you have to have experience with. Direct, substantive experience.”

This story was written by Lilli Malone and Maddie Franz

Featured image by Lilli Malone | The Phoenix

The Phoenix Staff

The Phoenix Staff