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Hitting the trail SGA election campaigns underway

Marisol Castillo, Rodrigo Gonzalez, Imran Murtuza COURTESY PHOTO

Campaigning for the Student Government Association election began Sunday night and runs through April 7. The 25 candidates seeking a position and the students they will represent will have a chance to meet and discuss the issues the university faces.

There are two executive tickets led by Denisse Molina-Castro, a political science senior, and Rodrigo Gonzalez Contreras, a civil engineering sophomore, who are seeking the SGA presidency.

Both candidates told The Rider that their campaigns will not be focused on them, but rather will be student-oriented.

“Our team has decided that we want this to be a campaign for the students,” Molina-Castro said. “We want the students to be engaged with our campaign.”

She and her running mates, Alondra Galvan, a political science junior from the Brownsville campus, and Peter Averack, a communication junior from the Edinburg campus, will use social media to interact with students on a one-on-0ne basis. They will also meet with student organizations and leaders in order to achieve this purpose.

As part of her platform, Molina-Castro has emphasized increasing the student travel and emergency event funds, and working to solve parking and transportation issues. She also plans to increase SGA involvement with the student body, promote unity between campuses and make student services more accessible.

“My campaign … will include hearing concerns from students,” Gonzalez said. “It will be an inclusive campaign.” Gonzalez, along with the vice presidential candidates on his ticket, Marisol Castillo, a public relations junior from the Edinburg campus, and Imran Murtuza, a biomedical sciences junior from the Brownsville campus, seeks to go further than delivering his platform message to the student body.

“[We will] incorporate people from different organizations and different clubs to unite the movement,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not just going to be about me running for president.”

The four key components of Gonzalez’s platform are the promotion and expansion of the availability of student employment, promoting collaboration between the SGA and other student organizations, establishing new traditions that include all students, and the equal representation and inclusion of all students.

Both candidates say the role students play in the campaign is vital to the university.

“We need to get out the vote,” Gonzalez said. “In last year’s election, the voting count was very low. … That’s an issue.

We’re almost 30,000 students and we barely [made] a thousand votes.”

In last year’s presidential election, a total of 1,650 votes were cast.

Gonzalez said the students’ role is to “keep posted about the candidates, to follow up the campaigns but most importantly, to vote.”

Molina-Castro pointed out that without the support of the students the SGA wouldn’t be able to function.

“I think that the role of the students should be to ask questions,” Molina-Castro said. “Ask as many questions as they want, whether we have the answers or not.”

She believes that it is the candidates’ and SGA members’ role to direct them to those who can answer them.

Cindy Mata, director of Student Activities, SGA co-adviser and a member of the elections committee, said the university will help promote voting through candidate fairs scheduled from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday in the Main Courtyard in Brownsville and the Student Union Commons in Edinburg.

The fairs will help the candidates promote themselves and the platforms they’re running for.

This year’s elections will begin online on MyUTRGV at 8 a.m. April 5 and will end at 11:59 p.m. April 7.

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