2023 Student Council Elections: The Debate and Everything You Need to Know Before You Vote


Clark’s 2023 student council elections are officially under way. The campaigning period kicked off last Wednesday with an immediate start from two official tickets: B.E.T., and The Dream Team. B.E.T’s ticket is led by Ethan Wellington for president, Bianca Binns for vice president, and Tapuwa Kabaira for secretary. The Dream Team is led by Sammi Bosque for president, Dahlia Mella-Goris as vice president, Ashley Valois for secretary and Najia Lloyd for treasurer.

The Dream Team began with a strong start, releasing a series of Teen-Vogue-Magazine style campaign posters on Instagram highlighting each candidate on their ticket. Their initial post stated the team hopes to “foster community bonding and community togetherness during our campaign.”

When asked what community togetherness means to them, vice presidential candidate Dahlia Mella-Goris stated, “Community bonding and togetherness are about getting to know your neighbors, talking with each other about what can be improved, and creating a healthy community in which each person can thrive.” Secretarial candidate Ashley Valois—a sophomore hailing from Waipahu, Hawaii—stated, “We call it the ‘aloha spirit.’ and the easiest way to put it is, the way you interact with people should be filled with love, including yourself. Our ticket wants to ensure that Clark is a better place so people can move, live, and breathe with love.”

The Dream Team ticket is also working to emphasize the importance of diversity in student council. Each candidate brings a different set of goals to their campaign with topics such as mental healthcare, diversity and inclusion, title ix, council transparency and campus accessibility.

When asked about their platform, vice presidential candidate Dahlia Mella-Goris stated, “Our ticket is devoted to a mentally and physically well campus… currently, most of [Clark’s] staff is white, Clark needs a diverse set of therapists for our diverse student population and they’re falling short in that area.” Treasurer candidate Najia Lloyd stated, “Accessibility, or lack thereof, is really important to us.”

Presidential candidate Sammi Bosque states, “We each started with our own areas of focus and platforms, then came together to create a unified platform. We all want to share each other’s projects and initiatives, so the work and effort put into them becomes stronger.” Each Dream Team member took special care to emphasize the importance of intersectionality and collaboration in responding to interview questions. “I think we shine more especially when we are working together. A lot of our constituencies overlap, and we are willing to not only bridge this gap, but to ensure these connections stay strong… we draw strength from learning from each other,” stated secretarial candidate Valois.

The B.E.T. ticket has also taken a stylized approach to their campaign with a card theme relating to their ticket name “B.E.T.” which represents the initials of each ticket member. The team seems to take a more holistic approach to their campaign, stating they plan to work together on increasing transparency between council and the student body. Presidential candidate Ethan Wellington states on B.E.T.’s Instagram, “I mainly want to provide a diverse perspective to student council to bridge the gap between the student body and student council.”

When asked what the biggest issues their ticket hopes to address, vice presidential candidate Bianca Binns stated her goal is to help Clark students with affordable tuition, as well as cleanliness on campus. “Paying for my education is a huge financial burden on my mom,” Binns states. On the issue of cleanliness at Clark she says, “I am immunocompromised… There is no reason why I should be buying my own mouse traps or tissue paper when this was supposed to be provided by the school.”


The Debate:

Monday evening, both teams came together for a head-to head debate, an event of particular importance to B.E.T’s ticket. An anonymous source informed The Scarlet that B.E.T was asked to remove their campaign posters for violating a series of campaigning rules; including plagiarizing their campaign logo from news outlet BET Networks. For them, this debate was a crucial chance to get their voice officially heard by the student body.

The debate consisted of a list of questions created by a panel of student representatives and members of The Scarlet. Each candidate was given one minute to respond, and was told there would be no rebuttals. Beginning with the topic of transparency, secretarial candidate Ashley Valois stated she is committed to “making access to information more fun and engaging.” She highlighted that not all students have access to platforms like Instagram of TikTok; she would like to create a single website to hold the information students need to know about student council matters. Candidate Tapuwa Kabaira took a different approach stating she wants to engage with students more on social media, and release bi-weekly meeting minutes to students via email.

The next topic of discussion tackled community and student events at Clark. “One of the things on my agenda is to work on affinity housing for the queer community,” stated vice presidential candidate Bianca Binns. Secretarial candidate Ashley Valois discussed her plan to constitutionally fund the community dinners which take place over mid-semester breaks, highlighting that many students cannot travel home for things like spring break.

The discussion then shifted to the matter of trans advocacy from student council, specifically related to poor healthcare, and lack of university cooperation for students who are transitioning. While this was the full extent of the question, panelist Duncan Green only inquired it fully to the first candidate, Najia Lloyd, and abridged it severely afterword—asking the candidates about “support to trans students” rather than the topic of healthcare and transitioning. Despite the abridged question, vice presidential candidate Dahlia Mella-Goris answered fully, stating, “as vice president I would become a liaison for those who can’t speak with the administration… there should be no discrimination for students to receive healthcare.” Presidential candidate Ethan Wellington approached the question from the classroom standpoint, stating he believes faculty should be held more accountable for misgendering students in professional settings.

Turning the conversation toward diversity, equity and inclusion, vice presidential candidate Bianca Binns stated ““There are a lot of struggles and limits that people with physical disabilities face [on campus].” She further discussed the need for a plan to make Clark easier to access, especially for students with physical disabilities who need elevators. Presidential candidate Sammi Bosque approached from the angle of mental health, stating “accessibility comes with each professor.” They highlighted the need for Clark to provide better help for students who struggle with mental health, especially in the classroom.

Binns also answered a follow-up question on abuse and harassment within club leadership at Clark; particularly on how CUSC plans to hold abusers accountable. “When these issues arise the first step is to go through judiciary,” stated Binns, who—in a previous question—stated the role of the judiciary in council is minimal. Vice presidential candidate Dahlia Mella-Goris expressed the need for the ability to remove club leaders democratically, adding that involving SLP is the most pivotal step toward holding abusers accountable.

The matter of international student support was brought up, giving all candidates an opportunity to respond. “This is a very passionate topic for me as I am an international student,” stated secretarial candidate Tapuwa Kabaira, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She highlighted how frustrating it can be to deal with administrative staff who do not know how to fully help international students, and that education is the solution to this issue. Vice presidential candidate Dahlia Mella-Goris claimed, “we as a ticket fully support the ISRC demands,” pointing to the need for better resources to help international students get jobs. This point was also echoed by presidential candidate Sammi Bosque. Vice presidential candidate Bianca Binns followed Mella-Goris’ response, stating “I think it would be helpful for international students to have their own coalition on council.”

Finally, the candidates were asked about their plans to make Clark a more social, especially in a post-pandemic world. Treasurer candidate Najia Lloyd broke the ice, stating Sammi “has cats we can bring around, they’re great.” Following Lloyd, secretarial candidate Valois highlighted CUSC can “[help] multicultural clubs can put on events together.” Candidates Kabaira and Wellington highlighted their involvement with clubs on campus, stating their ticket combined is involved in over 15 different student organizations. Vice presidential candidate Mella-Goris took a different approach, pointing out how she organized Winterfest and was “simply as a liaison for [clubs’] creativity.” Mella-Goris spoke on how there is such robust creativity within Clark’s clubs, and student council’s job is to be a facilitator of that creativity.

Both tickets presented their ideas at the debate strongly. The campaigning period ends, and voting begins Wednesday March 29 at 12:00pm.