SGA Election Preview: Ernie Barkett and Caroline Smith

By Morgan Petronelli

Candidates in the upcoming election for President and Executive Vice President of Youngstown State University Student Government Association took the time to answer questions about themselves and their platforms. Ernie Barkett and Caroline Smith are running for President and Executive Vice President, respectively.

SGA elections will take place on April 3 and 4.

Q: Tell me a little about yourselves and what are you involved in?

Barkett: Although my official major is economics, I enjoy being involved in many different facets of campus life at YSU. I absolutely love music and have played bassoon in the concert band, wind ensemble, and orchestra in the Dana School of Music.

Politics is my passion as I have been president of the College Democrats group here on campus and stay actively involved in local campaigns across the valley. I’m also a member of Greek life as a brother in the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity.

Smith: I am a political science major and I hope to attend law school following completion of my undergraduate degree. Aside from my involvement on SGA, I am a competitor on the Moot Court team and a student consultant at the Writing Center at YSU.

Last year I was the co-chair of fundraising for the Honors College trustees. Like Ernie, I love politics and I try to stay informed. I’m also an avid Vogue reader and coffee-drinker.

Q: Why do you want to be elected president and VP of SGA?

Barkett: I hope to be elected because I believe it is imperative that the students have a strong voice of representation from the Student Government Association.

SGA has the unique ability to have access to the administration of the university and offer advice on a wide range of issues. I want to make sure that the students’ best interests are in mind with the decisions of the university during these critical years of expansion.

Smith: I would be humbled to serve as the next executive vice president because my involvement on campus has transpired into a passion for the Youngstown community. I love going to school at YSU, being in Youngstown and celebrating the accomplishments of our city.

I want to be elected because I am experienced enough to have the ability to turn my passion for Youngstown into projects that can positively impact the lives of students.

Q: What kind of leaders do you describe yourselves as?

Barkett: I think of myself as a very straightforward and personable leader. I believe that it is much easier to work with a group of people who see each other as friends rather than colleagues. I also do not like spending a lot of time in meetings.

Most work is accomplished outside of the traditional meeting setting and the classic model of hour or more meeting can be an impediment to real progress on a specific task.

Smith: My style of leadership is engaging and thoughtful. I love to hear new ideas and make them actionable. I appreciate team-centered initiatives, so I think that if I were to be elected as EVP, I would strongly encourage representatives on the body to have more creative responsibility.

Q: Why do you think you’d be a better president and VP of SGA?

Barkett: We would make a better president and VP because of the experience that Caroline and I bring to the organization. In the academic setting, a year long term is not a very long time to be in office or get something accomplished.

Understanding where to go with specific issues, and how to push changes through the chain of command that exists at YSU is crucial to getting the ideas we campaign on pushed through over the next year.

Smith: I certainly think we would provide better leadership for this campus because we represent a unique combination of experience and passion.

We have served in SGA for an extended period of time, and because of that, we have both developed a relationship with the campus in its entirety. More than that, though, we are deeply concerned with the affairs of YSU and the ways in which SGA has the capacity to influence students’ lives.

Q: What are your specific platforms during this election?

Barkett: We want to improve many of the services offered to YSU students which are outdated, inefficient, or inadequate.

Advisement continues to be an issue across many colleges at the university, and we want to work to see our electronic degree audit system (DARS) updated from its current format. Parking continues to be an issue for many of the commuter students traveling to our campus.

Although YSU doesn’t have the money on hand to build new infrastructure, we can alleviate some of the issues by investing in another Penguin Shuttle and integrating GPS tracking of the shuttles into the YSU app.

Pop-up food options is another part of our platform. Since Chartwells doesn’t have the budget for another full-service eatery on campus, we believe a low cost “pop-up” food option will give students a healthy option on campus that will fit in Chartwells budget.