Challenging a formidable foe

Ryan Murphy

The upcoming Student Government Association presidential election features something that Villanova has rarely seen – an incumbent candidate.

This year, current president Maureen Holland, a junior, looks to extend her tenure as SGA president for one more year. Along with adding running mate Gita Gupte, Holland has put together an experienced ticket looking for the rarely sought re-election.

This year’s election also features five presidential tickets, the most for the University since 1998. In the past two years, the presidential elections have featured only two tickets, making the forthcoming election even more unique.

Along with the Holland-Gupte ticket, the presidential ballot features the Kevin Martens and Colin Raws, Nestor Fernandez and Timothy McGovern, Nicholas Bouknight and Safeer Bhatti and Jason Zola and Joseph Gribbin.

Each ticket understands the intricacies of running against an incumbent, but feel they are ready for the challenge.

“It really doesn’t make a difference to us,” Zola said.

“[Holland] obviously knows how to win an SGA election, which will probably help her as she tries to win another one.  So she’s probably got a one-up on us there, as far as marketing and knowing-how-to-get-people’s-votes goes,” he said.

“Other than that, it’s just like running against anybody else.”

Fernandez agreed. “We know one can never underestimate the power of incumbency,” he said.

“However, we face an incumbent with a platform that offers change and improvement. Our platform includes initiatives that will bring significant and positive changes to Villanova. Moreover, we bring change to the way SGA functions within the community by promoting a more active and visible SGA on campus.”

The other four tickets also expressed a need for change in SGA.

“The advantage I feel that we have over an incumbent is a fresh start,” Martens said. 

“Maureen has been in office for a year and may now be locked into a specific way of doing things, and there is always room for improvement.”

Experience on the SGA is not limited to Holland and Gupte, however. Bouknight and Bhatti, the youngest ticket on the presidential ballot, bring experienced sophomores looking to make significant advances for student rights on campus.

As members of the commerce and finance and arts senates, Bouknight and Bhatti have focused their campaign around stopping the incoming freshman tax hike as well as speaking out for students, citing the West campus fire drill searches as an infringement upon resident rights.

With five presidential tickets the possibility exists that voters might split among the favorable tickets. Similarly, votes for the less-favored candidates will ultimately take away votes from the favored tickets. In theory, this makes the number of targeted voters by each ticket that much more important. Avoiding a split will be difficult, but it may be a deciding election factor.

“We feel the most effective way to address this campaign is worrying about making ourselves the best choice and not dwelling on ways to edge out the other tickets,” Fernandez said.