Temple Student Government kicked off its election season today with the announcement of two executive campaigns and five Parliament candidates.
Elected members of the executive branch include the Student Body President and vice president. Students previously voted for executive slates consisting of the Student Body President and two vice presidents before TSG’s current administration unanimously passed a constitutional amendment to restructure the branch to include just one vice president in an effort to improve internal efficiency on Sept. 15.
Parliament consists of 30 seats with representation for each class, school at the university and some special interest groups, according to the TSG Constitution.
This year, campaigns may choose to host events in person or online as long as they abide by all the rules outlined in the TSG Election Code and Temple’s COVID-19 regulations, said John Haldeman, elections commissioner and a senior global studies major.
Elections will take place on Temple’s online voting platform from April 6 to April 8, Haldeman said.
TSG will host two debates, one in late March and the other in early April, between the executive teams, Haldeman wrote in an email to The Temple News. Last year, TSG held a separate debate for the two presidential candidates on Zoom.
The first debate for executive teams will take place remotely on Zoom but the second debate may be in person and socially distanced in the Howard Gittis Student Center with the footage live-streamed to viewers on Zoom, Haldeman said.
TSG has no confirmed plans to host events, like debates or town halls, for the Parliament candidates, Haldeman wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Last year, six Parliament candidates ran unopposed, and five of the candidates answered questions from students in a forum on Zoom, The Temple News reported.
Here are this year’s candidates and their goals.
Bradley Smutek, presidential candidate, and Samantha Quinlan, vice presidential candidate
Smutek, a junior history major from Hanover, Pennsylvania, worked as TSG’s Parliament Counselor this academic year until he resigned on March 8 to run for Student Body President.
Smutek is also a Diamond Peer Teacher in the Intellectual Heritage department, a resident assistant and a member of the Temple Pre-Law Society.
“The end of the pandemic is in sight, so it’s going to take responsible, mature leadership at the student level to be a voice for the student body and to implement initiatives that will benefit the student body as a whole,” Smutek said.
RenewTU will conduct the majority of its campaigning on social media due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic but has plans for some in-person outreach on Main Campus, Smutek wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Quinlan, a sophomore media studies and production major from Long Island, New York, currently edits videos for Update Ahora, which is a subsection of Temple Update, and is a videographer for The Temple News.
“As like, a woman of color, I feel like representation within TSG has been a little low and, you know, also as a female, having a female vice president is something that’s important and to have, you know, women’s voices be involved in student government is extremely important,” Quinlan said.
The RenewTU platform is divided into three pillars: “Transform,” “Amplify” and “Overcome.”
“Transform” is dedicated to initiatives that will “transform a student’s daily experience” and “transform the campus culture,” Smutek said. It focuses on students’ issues surrounding mental health, sexual assault awareness and prevention, food, housing and financial insecurity, diversity, equity and inclusion, and accessibility.
“Amplify” is directed at empowering student voices and includes promoting civic engagement, coalition-building between Temple’s colleges and putting a student voting member on the Board of Trustees, Smutek said.
The Student Body President, along with the president of the Faculty Senate, has a non-voting seat on the Board of Trustees. In 2019, the executive campaign BecomingTU advocated for a voting seat for a non-TSG student on the Board, which would require a change to its bylaws, The Temple News reported.
RenewTU’s “Overcome” platform section is focused on sustainability, campus safety and community relations. RenewTU will continue BloomTU’s push to divest Temple from fossil fuels and advocate for the university to reach carbon neutrality by 2035, Smutek said.
Temple’s revised Climate Action Plan includes a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, The Temple News reported.
“We want to be a national leader on sustainability to show that you can be a college that’s in the middle of a big city while not being a blight on that city economically, environmentally, on the community and whatnot,” Smutek added.
RenewTU’s platform also includes plans to advocate for mental health days, similar to this semester’s Wellness Days, during which classes and assignments would be suspended, Smutek said.
The platform also proposes establishing a student-run thrift store that would donate its proceeds to the Cherry Pantry, which provides emergency food supplies to students in need.
RenewTU wants to coordinate with campus organizations to establish menstrual product donation drives and ask the university to provide menstrual products to students in need, according to their platform.
Gianni Quattrocchi, presidential candidate, and Jillian Jasner, vice presidential candidate
Quattrocchi, a freshman political science major from Bristol, Pennsylvania, and Jasner, a freshman English major from Voorhees, New Jersey, met in the Fall 2020 semester in an Intellectual Heritage class and decided to run for student government together, Jasner said.
“In IH, you’re constantly discussing what’s just, what’s good for the public and the common good,” Jasner said. “So, that’s how we started talking about these issues and it kind of led to this.”
Quattrocchi and Jasner want to help Temple fix problems surrounding mental health and racial injustice, Quattrocchi said.
“I don’t think we would have run if not for the pandemic, but I think the pandemic exacerbated a lot of issues that have otherwise been ignored or swept under the rug,” Quattrocchi said.
FireOwl will campaign virtually on Instagram and Facebook and with flyers in residence halls, Quattrochi said.
FireOwl’s platform addresses topics surrounding mental health, equality and inclusion and housing insecurity at Temple, Jasner said.
To address student mental health, Quattrocchi and Jasner will advocate to expand the resources at Tuttleman Counseling Services, create a mental health crisis response unit separate from Temple Police to handle mental health crises and advocate for permanent Wellness Days in Temple’s schedule, Quattrocchi said.
Quattrochi and Jasner plan to advocate for anti-racism and gender education to be mandated at Temple, Jasner said. In September, Temple invested $1 million in a new anti-racism initiative that includes changes to race and diversity classes in the university’s general education curriculum, The Temple News reported.
To help students experiencing housing insecurity, FireOwl will push Temple to offer rent stipends to students in need, Jasner said.
Quattrocchi and Jasner will expand upon the current TSG administration’s sustainability plan by pushing Temple to transfer its vehicle fleet to electric power by 2035, Quattrocchi said.
“We have a lot more power than the university acknowledges,” Quattrocchi said. “If not for the students, the university would not exist. I want to set a precedent that all students have their voices heard, and we’re treated as constituents of the administration.”
Parliament, the legislative arm of TSG, has historically struggled to fill its seats through elections. In 2019, eight candidates applied to run for 37 available seats; in 2020, six students ran for 30 seats. This year, five candidates are running.
Parliament’s speaker and vice speaker stepped down on Jan. 13 amid frustrations about their handling of the resignation of former Freshman Representative Karim Alazzam after he posted an anti-Semitic video on a personal social media account.
Here are the candidates running in this year’s election.
Antonio Mendoza— At-large Representative
Mendoza is a freshman political science major. Mendoza did not immediately return a request for comment.
Manny Herrera— Second Year Representative
Herrera is a freshman biochemistry major and serves as TSG’s Freshman Representative for the Spring 2021 semester.
“For the short amount of time that I have been here at Temple University, I have felt a sincere connection with many of the students and faculty here at the school,” Herrera wrote in an email to The Temple News. “As a student government representative, earning the students respect and listening to their concerns are the primary things we need to focus on.”
Townley Sorge— College of Public Health Representative
Sorge is a junior public health major and currently serves as the College of Public Health’s Parliament representative. She is also a peer educator with the Wellness Resource Center and a College of Public Health student ambassador.
“I decided to run for re-election because I enjoyed my first year in Parliament so much! What drew me to run again was how satisfying it can be to come up with ideas for resolutions, even just adding to other people’s ideas, and seeing everything snowball into something that can benefit folks here at Temple,” Sorge wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Kyle Sheaff— Disability Resources and Services/AAL Representative
Sheaff is a freshman graphic design major.
“The reason I’d love to run for Parliament is because I can do all the best to represent everybody on the Temple University campus and more,” Sheaff wrote in an email to The Temple News.
Sheaff is involved in campus organizations like Active Minds and Best Buddies.
Lillian Sclafani— Fox School of Business Representative
Sclafani is a junior marketing major. Sclafani is currently the TSG representative and STARS coordinator for Temple’s Public Relations Student Society of America and the secretary of Temple’s chapter of Her Campus Media.
“The biggest reason as to why I decided to run for parliament is to ensure that all students voices are being heard, and that the Fox school of Business is addressing these concerns effectively,” Sclafani wrote in an email to The Temple News. “I want to be an advocate for changes that will provide students, faculty, and administration the best experiences they can have at Temple.”
Editor’s note: Samantha Quinlan is a freelance reporter for The Temple News. She played no role in the reporting, writing or editing of this story.
Haajrah Gilani serves as the Speaker of Parliament and is an Intersection Editor at The Temple News. She played no role in the reporting, writing or editing of this story.