Two parties, Envision Maryland and Recognize UMD, are running in the University of Maryland SGA elections later this month. Both parties are focusing on initiatives including open-source textbooks, increased mental health resources and more funding for cultural organizations.
Candidates began to campaign Monday in anticipation of the election, which will be held online between April 17 and April 20.
Envision Maryland's ticket has 37 candidates to fill executive and legislative seats, while Recognize UMD's ticket offers three candidates vying for executive positions. Independent candidate Allie Ng is competing for a legislative seat to represent the arts and humanities college.
Jonathan Allen, the Student Government Association's speaker of the legislature, is running for president with Envision Maryland. Andrew Stover is running for financial affairs vice president, Rohini Nambiar is running for student affairs vice president and Rahila Olanrewaju is running for academic affairs vice president.
Envision Maryland's platform, according to its website, focuses on supporting undocumented students, implementing sexual misconduct prevention measures and advocating for transparency in how student fees are used.
Nambiar, a junior public health science major, joined the SGA last year and serves as its health and wellness director. Stover, a sophomore public policy major and the Denton community representative, is also a second-year SGA member. He's served on the academic affairs and financial affairs committees.
Allen said Olanrewaju will bring an outside leadership perspective because of her involvement with the Dean's Student Advisory Council for the behavioral and social sciences college, work in educating students on financial literacy through the economics department and her position as founder of the African Languages Association. She's one of several candidates the party pulled in from external leadership roles.
"If you've been in SGA for several years, you tend to kind of lose sight of some of the opinions that other students might bring to the table," Allen said.
Allen said apart from SGA, he's served on the Dean's Student Advisory Council for undergraduate studies, the Residence Hall Association's Ellicott Hall Council, University Senate and the Transportation Advisory Committee. He said if elected, he would want to use his connections to partner in campus projects.
Envision Maryland wanted to look into starting a cap and gown rental program, and partnering with a ride-share service to help students reach grocery stores affordably, Allen said.
Humza Yahya is running for president on the Recognize UMD ticket with Kamyar Dastani for student affairs vice president and Keith Katz for financial affairs vice president. Yahya said the ticket was ready to see the SGA take on localized, student-oriented reforms.
"We spend most of our time being members of the community, being members of a lot of other clubs and organizations," said Yahya, a junior accounting and information systems major.
Yahya started on the SGA's finance committee in the fall, and was appointed to the legislature as an off-campus neighboring representative in February. Yahya said Katz has been on the finance committee for two years, and as the financial affairs assistant vice president, he is familiar with the role's responsibilities. Dastani is the treasurer of the Iranian Students' Foundation.
The party's platform, according to its website, includes goals of establishing a student group event insurance policy, combating hate bias incidents on the campus, establishing resources for first-generation college students and expanding Terpware's software selection.
Yahya said the party wants to give large student groups ways to partner with university departments for specific funding, rather than force all groups to share the same collective student fees fund.
Unlike Envision Maryland, Recognize UMD didn't put any legislative candidates on its ticket. Yahya said this was intentional.
"The incumbents … are all just amazing people, and we'd be happy to work with them," Yahya said. "If there was no honest-to-God good reason to run someone against them, then why would we go through that trouble?"
Dastani said he's had people reach out to him about wanting more study spaces at night, longer checkout times for laptops at the library and better scheduling options for commuters.
"I hope maybe with the SGA, I could bring these problems to light and help solve them," he said.
Allie Ng, a freshman French and government and politics major, was appointed to the SGA as an arts and humanities representative in March. She expressed commitment to her role if she's elected in April.
"I hope to continue SGA's mission to empower student voices and increase student involvement in SGA events," Ng said.