Results of the Clark Undergraduate Student Council Debate

Thatcher Fox Richard, Opinions Editor

On Thursday March 17th, Clark University’s undergraduate student council electoral debate took place. The debate consisted of two teams running: team Vision consisting of Presidential candidate Sofia Bishop, Vice Presidential candidate Glory Phipps, Treasurer candidate Sammi Bosque and Secretary candidate Sky Brito. Team Future consisting of Presidential candidate Ruqayah Al-Ashabi, Vice Presidential candidate Ibeth Alvarracin, Treasurer candidate Faith Bolques and Secretarial candidate Laila El-Samra. Additionally, candidate Gianfranco Cornejo Gizzi is independently running for Treasurer.

During the debate both teams highlighted the importance of transparency between the student body and student council representatives, especially regarding student council funds. Sammi Bosque, Vision’s candidate for treasurer, remarked that the activities fund for student council is underused, stating “the activities fund is meant for what students are doing on campus. “Treasurer candidate for team Future Faith Bolques and independent treasurer candidate Gianfranco Cornejo Gizzi agreed with on the topic of council transparency with Gizzi stating that “students deserve to know how their money is being spent.”

Team Vision spoke in greater depth than their opposition about Clark’s treatment of the surrounding Worcester community. Presidential candidate Sofia Bishop highlighted the need for Clark to address their stance on gentrification with Main South, as well as the importance of transparency with the Main South community on plans for university development. Additionally, Vision’s Vice-Presidential candidate Glory Phipps mentioned the need for bridging the gap between student council and the Clark community by sending emails about development to not just students, but also surrounding neighborhoods in the Main South area.

Both teams agreed that they wish to continue the collaboration between CUSC and the Black Student Union. Vision’s presidential candidate Sofia Bishop stated her goal is to re-evaluate anti-blackness within Clark’s administration and start conversations about racial inequity on campus. Team Future’s presidential candidate Ruqayah Al-Ashabi stated that the BSU and CUSC coalition is crucial. She went on to expand her argument by stating there should be more collaboration between student council and other cultural groups on campus such as making the push for better Halal and Kosher options for Muslim and Jewish students in the dining hall. Future’s Vice-Presidential candidate Ibeth Alvarracin also stated there should be more multicultural representatives working with student council in order to ensure the council is meeting the needs of all Clark students. Independent treasurer candidate Gianfranco Gizzi agreed with both groups that the BSU and CUSC coalition needs to continue, and that CUSC must advocate for multicultural groups with Clark’s administration.

When asked about the relationship between campus clubs and student council, both teams were very vocal about their ideas. Future’s Vice-Presidential candidate Ibeth Alvarracin highlighted in her opening statement that she wants to “bring back council to what is was” by making the campus more social again. She also highlighted the need to bridge the gap between student athletes and non-athletes. Both teams’ Vice-Presidential candidates agreed one of the best ways to support student groups in need of funding is to provide workshops on topics such as intergroup dialogue to teach clubs how to collaborate with each other.

When asked about the recent tuition increase for the 2022-23 year, Vision’s Presidential candidate Sofia Bishop highlighted the dysfunctionality of the Student Accessibility Office stating that accessibility is related to infrastructure, and that tuition cannot be increased until Clark’s campus is more accessible for students. She also made it a point to state that she and her team are in favor of the student tuition strike that took place last year. Future’s Presidential candidate Ruqayah Al-Ashabi made an interesting decision to defer to her running mate Ibeth Alvarracin; and highlighted the importance of a strong cabinet to advise and inform one another. Alvarracin eloquently responded by highlighting the fact that there is often unused money in student council’s funds, and that any layover money should be directly redistributed into the Clark community to help students attend college.

In conversations about accessibility, however, not a single candidate made any mention of the ways Clark is heinously inaccessible to genderqueer students on campus. Clark’s administration has time and time again ignored calls for more gender-neutral restrooms and better systems for trans students to have their preferred name used in places such as the mailroom or email lists. Team Vision made a great push toward talking about accessibility for students on campus, and both teams agreed that student council needs to work harder to advocate for students on campus. Despite this rhetoric, however, both teams did not bother to speak on their plans to advocate for queer students at all.

You can find all the candidates as well as their policies on Instagram. Team Future can be found at @electthefuture2022, team Vision can be found at @votevision2022 and Gianfranco Gizzi can be found at @gizzixcusc.