SA election speeches took place this past Thursday, Feb. 18, with primary elections held immediately after the speeches concluded.
The three primary candidates who ran for SA president — junior accounting major Jhosuet Esten, junior long-term care administration major Amy Dias Nogueira and junior theology major Juan Carlos Grajales — delivered their speeches announcing their platforms and why the Southern student body should elect them into their respective positions.
A total of 420 students participated in the primary election for the presidential candidate, a record low, according to Vice President for Student Development Dennis Negrón.
In previous years, approximately 1,000 students have participated in voting.
Esten and Grajales gained the top spots in the primaries, with Esten accumulating 52.62% of the vote and Grajales finishing with 28.57%. Dias Nogueira, who had vowed to be an advocate for the student body and tackle sexual assault on campus, was eliminated from the race with 18.81% of the vote.
SA executive vice presidential candidate and sophomore management major Kenneth Bautista and social vice presidential candidate and sophomore biology research major Marie Rodriguez also gave speeches despite running unopposed.
Rodriguez hopes to create a thriving community, facilitate a readily available communication avenue between students and SA and plan events such as a musical festival where students can share their talents, a chalk art competition on the promenade and a lantern festival.
Bautista’s policies and goals include increasing the spiritual atmosphere by placing prayer request boxes around campus and creating a “lift-off” initiative designed to give student entrepreneurs funding to launch their own small businesses.
“Oftentimes, having enough money to launch your idea is the only thing stopping you,” Bautista said.
During his speech, Grajales proposed to mend the divide between the student body and administration, restructure the SA Senate to engage directly with students outside of the SA Senate constituent emails and further utilize the Southern app.
“I see many resources being lost — nobody’s taking advantage of them because they don’t know any better,” Grajales said. “Let’s make the change.”
Esten’s policies focused on two main goals: Awareness and transparency. He hopes to get the student body more involved and up-to-date with changes on campus, and he plans to create a website along with weekly postings on what’s going on around campus.
“As president, I will create a platform where students can freely express their concerns directly to the SA team,” Esten said. “This will guarantee that students’ voices are being heard and will give you direct access to individuals that will not only listen, but who will act upon your needs and your suggestions.”
An SA press conference took place Tuesday night, Feb. 23. Final elections to fill the SA president, executive VP and social VP positions will take place tomorrow, Feb. 25. Students are advised to check their emails regularly for additional election information.