BY ANA VASUDEVAN & KADY HAMMER
BOLOGNA, Italy — On September 30, the SAIS Europe student body elected its new Student Government Association representatives. Polls closed at midnight, determining the fate and the future of this year’s student leadership. Of the 13 SGA candidates, the following five were selected: Joaquim Miguel Pereira Mendes, Portugal; Elisa Bettelli, Italy; Christian Maximilian Stadler, Germany; Riccardo Alfieri, Italy; and Himmat Singh Sandhu, India. According to the SAIS SGA election guidelines, the candidate with the highest number of votes, in this case Mendes, serves as President with the other four elected representatives covering external relations, financial matters, internal relations, and academic services.
The five elected SGA members have ushered in a number of firsts. Previous elections adopted a traditional approach with formal speeches given in the auditorium. However, this year’s election utilized social media platforms to make the election more accessible and to better represent the personalities of individual candidates. The combination of the elevated use of social media platforms and YouTube campaign videos resulted 169 votes cast out of the 212 SAIS Europe students. Mendes’ campaign video alone has reach 518 views to date, with many other campaign videos boasting more than 100 views.
For the first time in SAIS Europe history, the SGA is composed entirely of international students, with no American representatives. The greater number of individuals vying for candidacy than previously has been attributed to Dr. Jennifer Varney, Director of Student and Academic Affairs, and her efforts to streamline the election process. Dr. Varney praised the attitude and approached this year’s class, saying “the class of 2016 has a really impressive ‘can do’ mentality and a positive mindset.”
Among other SGA responsibilities — including organizing the Vienna Ball, ordering student business cards, and organizing monthly social events — the SGA assists student clubs through fundraising drives. So far in 2015, the SGA organized a club fair with 26 participating clubs followed by a karaoke fundraiser, that featured prizes for the most enthusiastic participants. In the future, the SGA has numerous goals including creating a sports tournament, organizing cultural events around Bologna, designing new SAISWear and working closely with the administration to provide students with academic and career services.
Following along with this year’s “firsts,” SGA is breaking the SAIS Halloween Party tradition of hosting the party at Palazzo Gnudi, which has played host to the party for the past four years, and instead holding the event at Casalunga Golf Resort, located approximately 10 kilometers east of the SAIS Europe campus.
While there have been a number of new precedents set, the SGA has stated that their overall goal is to build a community. When asked what he would like to see come of this year’s work in SGA, Mendes explained, “We have a lot of studies to do, a lot of readings, but we really want to
create this community between the SAIS students. … because in the end, when we leave Bologna and when we leave SAIS, the friendships that we create here are the ones that will last in the future. We’re not going to be friends with our books, for example. Definitely not.”
Toward the end of creating unity among a diverse student body, of the approved student clubs at SAIS include: the Feminist Talking Circle and the Migration and Security Club, the Culinary Aficionados of Bologna, along with a number of concentration-specific organizations.
Up next for the SGA is further organizing the Halloween party as well as continuing to raise funds for student clubs.