SBA candidates make their case in virtual forum

A screenshot from the SBA’s virtual candidate forum. Clockwise from left: Michelle Amidzich, SBA President Raynald “Ray” Carre, Heather Francis, and Ashley Monti. Image via VLS SBA.

By Julia Guerrein, Editor-in-Chief

The Student Bar Association hosted a virtual candidate forum Wednesday, where candidates for the Executive Board and Senate outlined their plans if they are elected and answer questions.

Voting began Monday for next year’s SBA, and polls close at 2 p.m. Friday. Students are able to vote within their class, 3Ls and Master’s students are unable to vote for next year’s representatives.

Only a handful of the candidates running attended the virtual forum, including presidential candidate Heather Francis, Vice President of Student Activities candidate Ricardo Edwards, 3L Senator candidate Lucas Joseph, 2L Senator candidate Michelle Amidzich, 3L Student Trustee candidate Erika Gerstenberger, and 2L Student Trustee candidate Ashley Monti.

“There are still concerns to address for campus when we come back in the fall,” said Francis, who is running against second-year student Justin Kim. “I will effectively lead the student body community as we deal with the impact of COVID-19.”

Francis also expressed her desire to increase participation in SBA and local politics, especially with the U.S. presidential election in November.

Edwards spoke to his experience as a Master’s Senator and his participation in other student organizations. “I’m running for this position because I really like the camaraderie among students, faculty, and staff here,” Edwards said. “Overall, I feel like I’ve represented my peers when they’ve had concerns.”

Joseph currently serves as a 2L Senator and is running for another term. During his tenure he helped with gym improvements and other SBA initiatives. At Wednesday’s forum, Joseph said he “I love being part of this community and hope to share that love with the rest of the student body.”

Amidzich discussed how her experience from undergraduate taught her how to make thoughtful and difficult decisions. She also highlighted how she worked within her campus community to push forward green initiatives.

“I want students to come to SBA and know they will be heard and know that SBA will see their ideas through,” Amidzich explained.

Explaining why she is running for Student Trustee, Gerstenberger explained: “I think it’s a really unique position within the SBA and the school itself.” She expressed her desire to represent the student body to the Board of Trustees and tell the Board what is going on at the school.

As Student Trustee, Monti said she would make herself available for students and create an environment where students feel comfortable approaching her with concerns. She also proposed an anonymous survey to get raw feedback that can help gauge how the student body feels about their experience at VLS.

Through her past work, Monti said, she learned compassion and empathy. “I think I can show that kind of compassion that VLS has,” she said.

All of the candidates’ full biographies were emailed to the student body by current SBA Secretary Laura Keenan. You can catch an archived version of the virtual forum here.

[Disclaimer: Amidzich is the News Editor of The Forum. Francis and Joseph have previously contributed to The Forum.]

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