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Paradiso-O’Connor and Drinkall-Kinyanjui tickets discuss their platform ahead of election

| Thursday, February 20, 2020

In “Meet the Candidates” videos for the 2020-2021 Student Government Association (SGA) election released to students in an email on Tuesday, the candidates spoke about the goals they hope to achieve if elected.

Juniors Deirdre Drinkall and Brianna Kinyanjui — running for student body president and vice president, respectively — and juniors Giavanna Paradiso and Kelsey O’Connor — candidates for the same offices — discussed and outlined their campaign platforms, and why students should vote for them in Thursday’s election.

The Paradiso-O’Connor platform has four pillars: empowering students on campus, enthusiasm in their work, equality in making sure all voices are heard and experience in student government.

Nola Wallace | The Observer

Giavanna Paradiso, left, and Kelsey O’Connor, right, prioritized empowering student organizations and promoting community in their platform.

“We want to empower each student to speak up as their true authentic selves, because everyone at this school has a unique and valuable skill set to bring to the table. Both of us feel passionate that the school is what we make,” O’Connor said. “We’d also love to have the opportunity to empower clubs and organizations by offering the help of SGA through resources and services that many students don’t even know exist or know how to access.

“On our platform, we mentioned empowering SDB, BAVO and the rest of student-led SMC clubs so that these clubs can serve and enhance the SMC community.”

Paradiso emphasized the enthusiasm for the College she and O’Connor share.

“One of our favorite hobbies is bragging about how amazing Saint Mary’s is to anyone and everyone we meet. We firmly believe Saint Mary’s is the best institution in the country, and at every event we have the privilege to plan has been a success because we got to witness the SMC community coming together on campus,” Paradiso said. “From watching Belles smile over free t-shirts, glitter, arts and crafts, Chick-fil-a, donuts and other treats, it brings joy to our face that demonstrates the importance of having pride in one’s school.

“That’s what drives Kelsey and me — making Belles happy and helping them to feel at home and a part of something. Let us amplify your voices, opinions and stories on our campus and across the street. To be proud of what we’re building in our time on our campus. We are so enthusiastic about the opportunity and privilege to serve you all.”

O’Connor said making Saint Mary’s a place where all students feel welcome and valued is an important part of the ticket’s platform.

“Saint Mary’s is home for everyone, no matter your race, socioeconomic status, religion, gender, sexual identity, nationality, family background, hometown or beliefs,” O’Connor said. ”Saint Mary’s is your home, and everyone is welcome down the Avenue. We understand Saint Mary’s is not perfect, and we will continue to strive for diversity, inclusion and equality at all levels across campus with the help for each of you.

“Each Saint Mary’s experience is different as every Belle has her own story and rather than continue to divide people, we want each Belle to know that she is capable of achieving whatever her dream is here at Saint Mary’s. We want every student to feel safe and part of this community.”

The Paradiso-O’Connor ticket builds upon their campaign pillars with additions to their platform such as student wellness, inclusion, safety, opportunities, advocacy and support.

Among their ideas for implementing these goals are increasing exterior lighting on campus, restoring Dalloway’s as a space for student use and implementing a tracking app for Blinkie.

“We would like to ask you for your vote in [Thursday’s] election because you deserve empowerment, enthusiasm, equality and experience in your leaders and at your school,” Paradiso said.

The priorities of the Drinkall-Kinyanjui ticket are to encourage smooth transitions for the new College President and vice president of student affairs with experience and competence. They hope to ensure Saint Mary’s serves the needs of its students and continues to remain true to the core values of the institution.

The highlights of the Drinkall-Kinyanjui platform are centered on student services, Catholic identity and ecumenism, mental health, inclusivity and transparency of SGA.

Nola Wallace

Brianna Kinyanjui, left, and Deirdre Drinkall, right, emphasized the College’s Catholic identity and mental health in their platform.

“The mission of student government should be to help each Belle find her voice and speak in through our events, sponsorships and communication to the powers that be,” Drinkall said. “Ensuring that each of us 1,379 Belles has complete access to that promise of discovery — discovering the spirit and sisterhood of SMC.” 

Kinyanjui said she applied to Saint Mary’s on a whim but has found it to be a home she wishes to serve and improve.

“We have discovered the call to serve with authenticity, lead with competence, be outspoken for the sake of our fellow Belles and to become your next student body president and vice president,’’ Kinyanjui said. “I applied to Saint Mary’s on a whim, I never dreamed by choosing to call this place my home I would have been blessed with so many incredible people and countless opportunities.

“The College thrives because of the hard-working students that put their time and effort into making it the place that they want it to be. And as long as I have the privilege to attend Saint Mary’s, I will strive to help make it a place every student feels they have a say in their college experience.”

Drinkall said she and Kinyanjui plan to combine their different voices in serving the student body and promoting the mission of the College.

“The changes we desire are to make Saint Mary’s even more Saint Mary’s,’’ Kinyanjui said. “We are passionate about subjects relating to mental health, Catholic identity, inclusivity and equity, and SGA accessibility.

“Our concrete plans include to start empowering conferences, open up new inviting spaces for Saint Mary’s students, start faith-sharing community groups, create new positions for diverse representation on SGA and advocate for increased efforts in sustainability and support of the Belles Against Violence Office.” 

The Drinkall-Kinyanjui ticket believes student government needs to be more than just fun and uplifting committee events. 

“We wish to continue these and make them better, but also restructure SGA to make it the place students can go to voice their concerns and share ideas,” Drinkall said. “ … We need to increase SGA’s online presence and transparency. We wish to reintroduce an SGA website and create regular Facebook live events to actively share our activities and host office hours in the dining hall.” 

Kinyanjui expressed her belief in the ticket’s ability to combine leadership experience with new ideas.

“We have firsthand experience for the job, while bringing fresh new ideas of effective leadership,’’ Kinyanjui said. “We have been directly involved with alumnae and prospective students and have the best understanding why Belles past, present and future choose and keep choosing Saint Mary’s. We will lead with vision of all that a Belle can be, and above all, we are women that live and breathe for the Belles of Saint Mary’s.’’

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