Why should the students of Fordham Lincoln Center vote for you as USG President?
My name is Demetrios Stratis (FCLC ’19) and I am running for USG President because I want to reaffirm the purpose of the Student Government and expand it as a strong, unified presence on campus that more students can have a stake in. I am running for USG President because in the two years I have spent in it as a Senator, and then the VP of operations, I have been discouraged by apathy, tempered by experiences and encouraged by the hard work of our student leaders.
The USG has been in a crisis of identity for some time now. It is torn between its role as an administrative institution that is meant to monitor and regulate the everyday interactions, paperwork and status of Fordham clubs and departments, and its potential to act as an advocate for issues on campus.
Many students do not know what the USG is and what our job is, and this general lack of communication has fostered a lack of involvement within the Student Government. We had several open positions in both the Senate and the E-Board this year, which hampered and interfered with our ability to undertake certain operations. That is why this election has more at stake than just the position of President, for in order for the USG to function as both an administrator and an advocate for students, we need dedicated members and club officers that can work together to better fulfill our Constitutional obligations.
We need both representatives and active members of the Fordham community in order to have a good working environment. The Student Government does not exist in a vacuum; it is the nexus of a wide variety of clubs with diverse goals and purposes, and it is meant to act as a moderator for them. I do not believe that the USG is the ultimate end to the development of this community, only a strong means. Everyone is a member of USG, but not everyone can attend our USG meetings or participate in our Senate. Not everyone can come to our meetings, but everyone can still contribute and participate in the greater Fordham community.
I want to empower the clubs as well to become focal points for representation within the community. Part of our role is to collaborate and work with other clubs on initiatives and events. I believe that clubs that exist for certain purposes, such as the furtherance of social, political, health and environmental causes, should spearhead their causes with our support and our promotions. I do not want the USG to co-opt or “steal the thunder” from other clubs, merely to provide resources and help to them so that they may better achieve their goals.
The United Student Government has, and will always, stand up for the rights of every student on campus, and I intend on continuing this policy. Through advertisement, events, constitutional reform, and community development, we can restore a sense of spirit within our Fordham community. This includes promoting the representation and visibility of our student groups, and creating more initiatives and outlets for interaction between Fordham students. There is talent, potential and character on this campus, and I want recognition of these traits to become normalized. By the will of the Fordham community and through the moderation of a transparent and active United Student Government, I hope to reaffirm the old truth: Everyone is a member of USG.
As USG President, I intend to work towards making Fordham University a more diverse and inclusive community. I am running for President to make sure that every student feels welcome and assured that their racial and ethnic heritages will be respected and their cultural traditions will be represented with pride on campus. My plan is also shaped by making sure that our services, policies, and events are formed with consideration to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Every student at this school should feel like this is a place for them, no matter how much money they have or what they look like. To build this kind of inclusive community requires the development of programs that address the needs of all students, especially our most marginalized groups, from students of color to students working through mental health issues, as they are often the most underserved. If we are to develop programs that effectively address the needs of the student body, we need to change how these programs are created and implemented. Programs developed by the administration are created with little student input or none at all. In order to change that we need programs that are developed jointly between students and the administration. As the RHA Advocacy Coordinator, I have worked to make inclusive residence policies and made sure that students are leading the expansion of resources and services for students dealing with mental health issues. By having a grassroots student-led effort in the creation and implementation of programs, we increase the effectiveness of the program as well as build engagement from students because student organizations have a vested interest in the program’s success. If students vote Samuel Blackwood for President, I will work to make sure the progressive values of the student body are reflected on our campus, and bring diversity and inclusion to the forefront of our agenda.
In order to implement these changes, the United Student Government (USG) needs an active President, someone who can bring students together and facilitate a working relationship between the students and the administration. In my work, on the behalf of the student body, I have coordinated with the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students, Chief Diversity Officer, the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, and student leaders to address a number of issues, ranging from the mental health of students to creating more inclusive policies for members of the LGBTQ+ community. When people come together and organize around a common goal, we build trust and compassion for each other, creating a more cohesive community. By voting Samuel Blackwood for USG President, the student body will be getting a proven organizer and leader who is capable of effecting a real change in the lives of students.
My stance on inclusivity of Fordham is unmatched. The motto of United Student Government (USG) states that everyone is a member of USG, yet we have a serious lack of input from the student body. As president of USG my goal is to open communications channels and listen to the voiced concerns and work with the proper offices at Fordham to ensure the community needs are addressed. I will act as a liaison between Resident Hall Association (RHA) and Commuter Student Association (CSA) to address the issues affecting our students. The procedure will be simplified making it easier for our voices to be heard, I will be implementing Google forms, and initiating polling at Fordham on Thursdays. Furthermore, This will facilitate transparency allowing for a streamlined process showing USG activity throughout the school year. Students will no longer wonder what gets done, but instead will be able to hear about our implementations as soon as they take effect.
Currently we have students opting out of their vegan diets because the cafeterias do not offer a menu to supplement their diet. I will be working with facilities in order to nurture our community and make sure there are offerings addressing dietary needs of the student body. This sense of community is important to ensure that throughout the operation of our college no one will be left out in decision-making.
Career services seems daunting to many Fordham students, as a result I want to make it more approachable. I intend to work together with career services to promote more workshops and career fairs into the Lincoln Center Campus. In attending the Rose Hill work fairs and workshops, the experience has enlightened me on that lack of these events offered to our Lincoln Center campus. The focus of the event venue seems to concentrate on Rose Hill and Gabelli. While the effort is commended, the needs of the university students as a whole must be in the forefront. We must be inclusive in our efforts to provide the service to all the student body not merely the business school and Rose Hill. By expanding the opportunity to connect with potential employers we increase the likelihood of positive results for the individual and the student body as a whole providing an exceptional experience for all involved.
There is a big disconnect between RHA and those who dorm. Working with students, we will act to improve the relationship fostered in the community by setting up a forum to have their opinions and concerns discussed. The commuter students feel a disconnect from campus, because scheduling of most events occurring at Fordham tend to not consider commuter student travel. Working with CSA, my goal is to have friendlier times for commuter events. As a commuter myself I do feel most events take place late, impeding on commute timelines which greatly increases travel time during off hours. The Fordham finals schedule is tentative until a couple of weeks before finals are announced. This constricted window does not allow reasonable timeframe for the international students to book flights at a lower cost to travel home. One possible solution for this issue would be to contact the academic branch of Fordham and ask them to work with us to release the final exam schedule sooner so students have the information necessary facilitating travel bookings in the process aiding in the reduction of cost to students. The next step in the protocol is to implement a buddy system where international students could find a friend or lodgings where volunteers have a student stay over until the day of his or her flight.
The hours for the dining hall and the Ram Café are severely limited after finals when international students are still on campus severely limiting dining opportunities. Through the cooperation of the facilities, My goal is to enact more dining options such as Ram Café accepting swipes and having grab and go sandwiches.