TSG announces 2023-24 presidential candidates

Two executive campaigns will compete in this year’s election, voting will take place March 28 and 29.

Empower Owls and Innovate TU are the two campaigns running for Temple Student Body President and Vice President in the 2023 election. | EARL KUFEN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With Temple Student Government’s elections set for March 28-29, the two executive campaigns that will be competing for Temple student body president and vice president in the 2023 election have been campaigning for students’ support.

TSG is hosting a debate night on March 22 for the two campaigns, Empower Owls and Innovate TU at the Howard Gittis Student Center. Voting will take place online with the results being announced March 30 and the inauguration held on May 1.

Here are the candidates for the 2023-24 election.

Empower Owls

Rohan Khadka, a sophomore secondary education-social studies major, is running for president of Empower Owls. He currently serves as TSG’s chief external affairs officer.

Lauren Jacob, a sophomore public health major, is running as vice president alongside Khadka. Jacob is currently TSG’s director of sustainability as well as vice president of Temple College Democrats.

“Our whole goal is to bridge the gap between communities that aren’t always reflected and are not always given a voice at the table,” Khadka said. 

Empower Owls’ platform centers around campus safety, sustainability, campus life and equality. Their proposals include increasing lighting off-campus, reforming TU Alerts to be more transparent and revising FLIGHT to reduce wait times while providing accurate time estimations and internal reviews of misconduct, according to their website

Khadka and Jacob’s goal is to empower the Philadelphia community as well as Temple students. 

“We don’t want to assume anything and we don’t want to insinuate what they might want or what they might need,” Jacob said. “We’re asking for representatives of every kind of background and different people and we want everyone to just sit at a table and just talk because nothing really gets done by just assuming what other people need.”

If elected, Khadka and Jacob will advocate for more transparency from the Temple administration. 

The group is pushing for the implementation of town halls with Q&A sessions and more opportunities for students to engage in open forum meetings with the Board of Trustees, according to their website.

Empower Owls will also advocate for free SEPTA transportation and better coordination during move-outs to create less waste. The campaign will also push for the reduction of the amount of food waste from Temple’s dining halls by promoting composting and helping students with food insecurity by partnering with Too Good To Go, an app that alerts users when food from restaurants and stores is about to go to waste.

Innovate TU

Eryal Szyszko, a junior health professions major, is running for president of Innovate TU. She currently serves as TSG’s director of health and wellness. 

Ray Epstein, a sophomore English major, is running as vice president alongside Szyszko. Epstein is currently the president of Student Activists Against Sexual Assault and is the chapter outreach coordinator for the Take Back the Night Foundation, a movement dedicated to ending sexual violence.

“Yeah, honestly this whole experience of campaigning has been such a great eye opening one,” Szyszko said. “Being able to talk to so many different orgs and clubs, even just this week, you get to meet so many students who are passionate, who are motivated, and who really, actually inspired me personally to go for this position.” 

Innovate TU’s platform focuses on topics like safety, advocacy, communication between administration and the student body and representation. 

Szyszko and Epstein will advocate to expand the TU Alert system by creating a newsletter with sections including crime both on and off-campus and follow-up information on previous crimes, according to their website

“That’s what the newsletter would do,” Szyszko said. “It would open that connection between administration and students and have the conversation going. We can’t control crime rates rising, but we can control how we respond and we can control how we’re going to support the students.”

If elected, Szyszko and Epstein will push for an annual breakfast buffet and bi-monthly roundtable discussions featuring representatives from student organizations. 

“So like once a month maybe student org leaders could come and meet with student activities, TSG, maybe some administrators, maybe the WRC and just kind of voice their concerns and ideas as well,” Epstein said. 

Innovate TU also advocates for providing freshmen with care packages that include items like snacks and a map of campus resources. 

To help those who are survivors of sexual violence, Innovate TU plans to create an advocate team of trained individuals as a resource for those in need. This team would offer support for survivors and assist them in standing up for their rights, according to their website.

After last year’s uncontested election and a decreasing voter turnout in previous years, both campaigns were hopeful about this year’s election.

“We’re just hoping that everyone goes out and votes,” Khadka said. “It’s not who you vote for but rather you vote.”

“It’s really important to us to spread the word,” Szyszko said. “Like please vote, look at both of our policies, like, figure out what you think is best for the school and please just vote.”

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