The elections for Ramapo’s Student Government Association are coming up next week, and because SGA president Caleb Herbst will be graduating this May, the position for student body president is open.
Here’s a look into the three presidential candidates and what they have to offer. Make sure to vote when the polls open this Monday, April 27.
Paolo Miyashiro Bedoya
First-year management major Paolo Miyashiro Bedoya is determined to appeal to the student body with his intended motives of transparency and improving student life.
Miyashiro Bedoya was an SGA senator-at-large and is currently the SGA secretary of commuter affairs. Through his previous position as senator, he worked with ITS to “express student concerns regarding WiFi.” During his time as secretary, Miyashiro Bedoya was the leading force that brought back the Commuter Overnight Room on campus. He is currently working with administrators to address parking concerns in the commuter parking lot.
“During my time in SGA, I saw that the SGA had the ability to do some amazing things for the student body, but the organization has not been living up to its full potential,” Miyashiro Bedoya said. “I felt like in order to best serve the student body, which is what we as an organization are here to do, something needed to change.”
Miyashiro Bedoya has multiple goals that he would like to achieve if he is elected as president. First, he would like to promote transparency within the Student Government Association in order to become more effective in serving students.
“I would like to better advertise our meetings, publish our meeting minutes, and improve our outreach so that the student body can better understand what we do,” he said.
To improve student life and the community, Miyashiro Bedoya would like for community service to be a leading component in clubs and organizations on campus. Alongside this, he wants Roadrunners to have an affordable experience in college, on and off of Ramapo’s campus.
“I plan on revamping and promoting the Roadrunner Advantage Student Discount Program, which provides much needed discounts for Ramapo students if they show their ID to participating businesses,” he said. “This program has unfortunately fallen through the cracks, and I would like to revive it for the convenience of our students.”
Outside of SGA, Miyashiro Bedoya is a member of the Honors Program as well as the ASB Dean’s Student Advisory Board.
His running mate for vice president is sophomore political science student Jessica Sanchez. Sanchez has had experience in SGA as the current secretary of academic affairs, where she helped promote and pass the optional pass/fail policy for this semester.
Sanchez is a member of the Multicultural Student Advisory Committee, and through this, she deems herself as a continuous advocate for a multicultural center on campus. This is another goal that is a part of Miyashiro Bedoya’s campaign.
“[Sanchez] is an excellent student leader who has proven that she can take on any challenge that gets in her way,” Miyashiro Bedoya said. “She shares my vision for a better Ramapo, and I am very lucky and excited to have her in my corner.”
Sanchez is also known for her on campus involvement as a peer facilitator and as secretary for the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead.
Sophomore law and society student Anjali Patel was eager to launch her presidential campaign at the beginning of this week.
Patel’s current experience in SGA stands out, as she is the SSHS school senator, and she was formerly a senator-at-large. She asserts that these positions have allowed her to “directly advocate for student needs and interests.”
“My experiences have given me clear pictures of what the college does well, and what can be improved,” Patel said. “I feel like there is still much unfinished business, and I have the qualities and capabilities to lead this charge in making Ramapo a better school for us all.”
Her goals are clear, but they stand out in comparison to her candidates. One of her main objectives which is unique is a school-wide winter formal.
“One of the main initiatives I want to pursue is hosting a Ramapo Winter Formal,” she said. “I know that this event is widely sought out by students, and it would be a great way to boost school spirit and enhance student life.”
However, her most thorough goal is to reduce the stigma around mental health on campus. Patel’s list of plans is extensive, but necessary in order for this difficult task to be achieved:
“I would require professors to put Ramapo Counseling Services information on their syllabi, have a SGA-hosted tabling during Mental Health Awareness Week in October, promote Ramapo Counseling Services and general health tips on the SGA Instagram account especially during midterms and finals seasons,” Patel said. “Reduce waiting times for appointments with Counseling Services by securing more funding for more staff members, and hold a grand Mental Health Town Hall that would be open to all members of the Ramapo community and provide expert advice on mental health.”
Patel proves to be active on campus outside of SGA, including her involvement in the Honors Program and in Sophomores Advancing in Leadership (SAIL).
Her vice president running mate is junior social work major Mariella Zijdel. Zijdel joined SGA her sophomore year and has embraced her role as the student trustee for the Board of Trustees since then. Through this position, she has focused on college issues such as student debt, discrimination on campus and more.
“I decided to pair with Mariella because she has extensive experience as a student leader at Ramapo, and she has an unmatched ambition to make Ramapo more inclusive and tackle higher education issues like student debt,” Patel said.
Zijdel works for the Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services on campus, which was an influence in pushing to advocate for improving mental health services in Patel’s campaign.
“Mariella’s job at the Women’s Center has additionally pushed her to focus on making a more organized system of looking at bias incidences, advocating for more education on diversity issues such as mandatory Safe Zone Training for all faculty and student staff, and adding more mental health services on campus,” Patel said.
Patel and Zijdel stand out as the only duo of women in the race.
The only political science major running for president is first-year student Alejandro Ramos. However, Ramos will not be new to leading a student body if elected.
“During my time in high school, I was the class of 2019's president for four years and [my school’s] SGA president for one,” Ramos said. “It always brings me joy when I can help a group of people or even a single person with an issue that they are embattled with.”
Like his competition, Ramos is not new to SGA as he is currently a senator-at-large. Through this position, he acts as the liaison to dining services on campus.
“As a senator this year, I have been able to accomplish so much as dining services liaison, but I feel that I can work on broader campus-wide issues,” Ramos said.
Most notably and recently, Ramos was selected to serve as the student member on the 2021 Presidential Search Committee to help seek the new president for the college amid President Mercer’s retirement.
“With my previous experiences in large leadership roles as well as my dedication and drive, I will push Ramapo in the right direction,” Ramos said.
Ramos’ campaign demands multiple motives, including the improvement of health services on campus, advocating for the decrease in on-campus parking fees, advancing sustainability techniques on campus and promoting campus diversity for all students to feel welcome.
“My platform affects every student in one way, shape or form,” Ramos said. “I feel as though the Ramapo community can benefit physically, mentally, and emotionally with a platform like mine.”
Ramos also plans to create a more enjoyable environment for residents on campus by hosting social events such as tailgates and formals.
His running mate for vice president is a fellow political science major: first-year student Sofia Lara. During this academic year, Lara has been a leader in SGA as the liaison for residence life, and health and counseling services.
Ramos said that he and Lara met through their involvement in SGA. Their similar ideas and strategies is what made them connect.
“In my time of being involved in leadership, I have never met anyone as smart, kind, caring, dedicated and compassionate as Sofia,” Ramos said. “I know that I will always be able to look to her for guidance and that she will always have my back and stay loyal.”
Outside of SGA, Lara participated in the 2019 Leaders in Service program on campus, and she will soon become a resident assistant in the Overlook residence hall.