Student Life Column

Germain: Newly-elected SA leaders’ next hurdle is implementing the four pillars of their campaign

Courtesy of James Franco

SA President-elect James Franco and Vice President-elect Angie Pati plan to implement the four pillars of their campaign, including advocacy and health, safety, experience and engagement and inclusivity.

After two debates and a hectic campaign cycle, James Franco and Angie Pati emerged victorious as the 2017-18 Syracuse University Student Association president and vice president, respectively. The duo’s platform was centered around four pillars: safety, health and advocacy; experience and engagement; and diversity. Now, they are tasked with both specifying and implementing what those goals will actually mean for students.

Here’s a breakdown of how Franco and Pati hope to structure the incoming SA administration and how they can ensure their goals are realized.

Advocacy and health

Mental health is at the forefront of Franco and Pati’s platform, but the initiatives they hope to implement won’t happen overnight. Instead, Franco and Pati are looking to establish long-term plans to set SU on the right track for mental health for years to come.

Franco and Pati hope to relieve some of the understaffed SU Counseling Center’s burden. They aim to bring to SU the National Crisis Hotline, a peer listening service that could help students who may not feel comfortable going to the Counseling Center.

Franco said he knows full well that creating a peer listening service isn’t the same as hiring new staff members to the Counseling Center. But introducing grassroots initiatives alongside the services the center already provides begin to bridge the gap so students who need treatment are able to receive it.

“In three years’ time, I’d love for SA to say, ‘look at what we’ve added for students,’” Franco said, adding that he’d like to continue to advocate for new positions at the center.

Franco and Pati’s long-term mental health platform demonstrates their understanding that groundwork this monumental would span more than one SA administration.

DPS and student safety

Expanded Department of Public Safety coverage is a key part of this pillar. Currently, DPS and the Syracuse Police Department hold a memorandum of understanding, which is an agreement over the duties and responsibilities shared between the DPS and SPD.

Franco and Pati said they hope to revise the 2014 agreement to give larger parameters to DPS officers to patrol areas already covered by Syracuse University Ambulance, including the Euclid Avenue and Westcott Street areas.

This extension would give larger jurisdiction to DPS “peace officers,” as they are known. But this also involves renegotiating where officers will be stationed, redrafting specifics on campus perimeters and simply selling SPD on why DPS officers should patrol these areas. Because many SU students live off campus in these areas, it’s important there are DPS officers around to keep them safe.

Experience and engagement

The current SA legislative session had a lot of inconsistency, with assembly meetings failing to make quorum on several occasions.

“People feel like they don’t need to be there,” Franco said, referring to assembly members who don’t show up to the regular Monday meetings.

It’s clear Franco wants to bring back the SA administration’s drive. That entails not only restoring the student body’s confidence in SA but also that of those part of the association.

“If SA members are more empowered, they will be talking about initiatives more,” Franco said.

Implementing initiatives to bring change for students is only half the job, though. It’s essential for SA to ensure it properly publicizes the dogged work it does each year. Much of the work done by current Vice President Joyce LaLonde has been overshadowed, Pati said, by the shortcomings of the 60th legislative session as a whole.

To get students talking about the positive work SA does, Franco and Pati will need to get assembly members on board, in the room and spreading the word.

Inclusivity

During their roughly two and a half weeks of campaigning, Franco and Pati followed an old tradition of listening tours — going to different registered student organizations to talk with students, ask questions and get feedback. This is typical for the course of an SA campaign, but Franco and Pati hope to continue this initiative throughout their time in office. This will lend both transparency and credibility to the 61st session after a lengthy summer break.

The continuation of the listening tours, Pati said, will entail the pair asking RSOs: “Is there anything we can help you with?” and “This is what SA is doing, what do you think about this?”

But what physical, tactile things do the pair hope to do?

“More tabling,” Pati said with a laugh.

“Just getting more news through word of mouth,” Franco added.

It’s a tall task, but Franco and Pati will need to take steps for everyone to open the conversation about what SA can do better and will do next.

Brendan Germain is a senior television, radio and film major and French minor. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at bngermai@syr.edu.

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