By Jessica Stamp
Youngstown State University’s 2021-22 Student Government Association candidates ran unopposed. Senior finance major Nicholas Koupiaris ran for president with sophomore environmental science and political science double major Gianna Battaglia as his running mate for executive vice president. The results were finalized April 9.
One of the team’s biggest goals is to expand college counseling services to help students decide on their major earlier.
“Something Nick is extremely passionate about is career readiness … in order to get students more involved with the major they’re choosing as well as their deans, their academic advisers, to make sure that what they’re doing is the right thing for them,” Battaglia said. “So many people don’t know what they want to do at such a young age, and that’s so normal. But it would not only help their GPA, it would get them graduated on time, and it can also get them a better career opportunity in the future.”
They also want to implement as many student events and activities as possible to foster a campus community after COVID-19, including a community garden.
“This community garden would be somewhere on campus that students could go to as a recreational activity, and they could stay outside and socially distance if need be — hopefully not. It’s obviously going to be a few years in the making. But it really would be a great place for students — not only in STEM — to go and experiment. But, it’d be such a recreational place that I think is needed on campus,” Battaglia said.
“I love seeing students on campus and seeing them enjoy their college career and their college life, and I’m very excited for next year,” Koupiaris said.
One challenge the team had to face during the campaign was obtaining the required 150 student signatures to be put on the ballot. Koupiaris came up with the idea of linking QR codes to a Google Doc to make it easier to obtain student signatures and maintain safety precautions. The signatures undergo a verification process to make sure that students are not alumni and have put in their correct YSU banner number.
“Due to COVID, it just had to be digital. What I did to make that process easier is I turned it into a QR code, and I went around on campus and had people scan with their phones the QR codes,” Koupiaris said.
Battaglia, newly elected executive vice president, said there was a potential opponent who planned on running; however, they did not meet the required signatures to be on the ballot.
The current president of SGA, senior Justin Shaughnessy, said this election — unsurprisingly — required more planning after last year’s spring election, right when the pandemic began.
“Last year, it was kind of trying to piece together everything, especially when we’re all remote,” Shaughnessy said. “But this year, we kind of knew what we were going into, so we were able to kind of gauge what could happen.”
Shaughnessy started as a chair of the financial affairs committee his sophomore year, then was appointed vice president his junior year. As a junior, he ran for executive vice president for his senior year. As a senior, he ran for president.
“This year, serving as president was a lot different because it kind of touched all of those [past SGA] positions but more like a unified way,” Shaughnessy said.
Senior biology major and current executive vice president Avery Howard joined SGA as a STEM representative and became the vice president of public relations. It wasn’t until after this experience Shaughnessy convinced Howard to run for executive vice president.
“I was like … ‘Let’s try and let’s see what happens,’ and it ended up working out, and I’m here and I enjoy what I’m doing and I think if I didn’t pursue this, I would have regretted it,” Howard said.
He said some major differences between this year’s and last year’s election were the increase of students interested in joining SGA and the number of students voting. He encourages those interested to give it a shot.
“A lot of conversations are more than just passing bills or funding … I think the one takeaway is that if you have any interest at all, or are even thinking about student government [to] give it a try, try to run in an election and try to get appointed … and see if you like it,” Howard said. “Because I think you will be intrigued that many people can find their places in student government.”