At last Monday’s student government meeting, Allocations Co-Chairwomen Olivia Albert and Rebecca Stefanyak announced their intentions to run as president and vice president for next year.
Albert said she wanted to run for president because she likes the direction student government is going in compared with last year.
Albert said she asked Stefanyak because of her involvement not just in student government, but in other clubs as well.
“I think (Stefanyak being involved in other clubs) would really benefit my overall goal of getting more people involved,” Albert said.
Stefanyak said the two already work well together on allocations, and it made sense to run together.
“We share a lot of the same viewpoints about Pitt-Johnstown and what changes we would like to see occur in the future,” she said.
Albert, however, said the two also have some different viewpoints.
“We’re similar in the sense we want the same thing for the student body and just want to overall improve the experience,” Albert said.
Stefanyak also said she thought it would be a good opportunity to show campus female leadership.
“If we would win, we would be the first female president and vice president duo,” she said.
Albert said she’s qualified for the position because of her student government experience.
“I worked my way up as a freshman senator. I’m now allocations (co-chairwoman), treasurer and on executive board,” she said.
Albert said she tries to involve herself with other committees, too.
“I’ve truly only been involved in allocations, so I made it my goal to see what other committees are doing by attending their meetings and working with them.
“I think I’m qualified in that I’ve gone around and really tried to experience all aspects of student government and trying to work my way up to president,” Albert said.
Stefanyak, who has been a student senator since her freshman year, said she’s qualified to be vice president because of her leadership experience in and out of student government.
She said she was the formal committee co-chairwoman for two years, student government secretary this year and yoga club treasurer.
“I am really passionate about student government. I think with the combined leadership roles, with my passion for the school, I think I’m very qualified for the position,” Stefanyak said.
Despite thinking she is qualified, Stefanyak said she decided not to run as president herself because of her senior year.
She said she is to student-teach during the 2020 spring semester.
Stefanyak said she is also a resident assistant and plans to apply for a head resident assistant position.
“If I got selected to (be a head resident assistant), student teach and be student government president, I don’t think it would be fair to the student body, because I couldn’t invest my time fully.
“I want the students to have the best possible situation for their leadership,” Stefanyak said.
She also said she thinks Albert is the best person for the job.
Stefanyak said the duo want student government to be more student-focused next year.
“I don’t want (our) administration to be more focused on student government structure than the student body’s wants and needs,” she said.
Albert said one of her main goals as president is to involve more clubs on campus.
“I want club (members) to come to us, not just for budgeting or for an emergency allocation, but because (club members) know they are able to help them with anything they may need,” she said.
Albert said one thing she is looking forward to is potentially hosting events with different club members.
She said, by partnering with other club members to host events, she hopes other students may also realize student government is not solely about business.
Albert said, by doing this, she hopes student senators do not seem like they are an untouchable organization that is not able to help club members.
Albert said she wants students to feel comfortable with student senators so, if they have any issues or concerns, they can bring them up to them.
“We truly are here for the students,” she said.
However, Stefanyak said she thinks student senators get wrapped up in the government aspect more than students’ needs.
“It needs to be student-centered, and it’s not right now.”
Albert said the most difficult part will be trying to break the rigid structure student senators have been working with for so long.
She said she thinks student senators have been working with the same structure because some are afraid of change.
Stefanyak said this year, so far, executive board members have been focusing on student government’s structure.
“Sometimes it frustrates me, because I know it’s something we could work with and work on, but I don’t think it’s what we should put all of our energy into,” she said.
Stefanyak said she would change that by making executive board meetings more student-centered.
Albert said at both general and executive board meetings, a lot of time is set aside for things that involve student senators rather than involving students.
“We’re trying to fix a broken structure that was kind of left in our laps,” Albert said. “We’re trying to evaluate ourselves and how we can better ourselves for the students.”
She said, once they are able to fix the broken structure, student senators can then shift their focus back to the students.
“We are here as a resource for the students, and, if we spend too much time trying to modify our structure, we’re really not serving our purpose,” Albert said.
Stefanyak said she thinks the administration is doing a good job by making sure all student senators have roles and are doing things for the student body.
“I would take that one step further by minimizing discussion of what the student government members need to do and bringing the discussion to what we are doing for the school and what the students want for the school.”