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Freshmen SGA Senators Look to a New Year

Photograph of Panel for Interview


As the SGA election came to a close Wednesday evening, the campus was buzzing with anticipation over who would be the freshman class’ next senators under the Student Government Association.

After weeks of campaigning both on campus with flyers hanging up on every elevator and bulletin board as well as campaign efforts spreading on social media with numerous Facebook posts and videos, the results were finally in.

Nine senators were chosen: Cat Seaver, Doug Botelho, Yasir Batalvi, Nicolas Rodriguez Gallego, Clara Jorritsma, Tohfa Signh, Matt O’Brien, Christopher Martone, and Benjamin Calitri.

The senators Benjamin Calitri, Matt O’brien, Yasir Batalvi, Cat Seaver, and Tohfa Singh spoke with The Suffolk Journal about their plans for campus, ideas for the future and personal lives.

Batalvi, a government major with a concentration in public policy and law from Toronto, Canada said, “I’m looking forward to gaining experience, being a voice for my peers and creating positive change at Suffolk University.”“I’ve been elected by the students of the Class of 2020 to represent them, work for them and fight for them, and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” said Batalvi.

He extended on his plans to create a smartphone app for the university. The app, he said, will have easy-to-use features in order to access resources at the university while on-the-go. These features he hopes to include the ability to book study rooms in the library, the map of all of the departments and offices at Suffolk.

For some, elected as a freshman senator will serve as the beginning ground of a potentially long, political run for some of these students. “I’ve learned that a lot is possible at SGA,” said Batalvi after learning more about what the upperclassmen have accomplished in the past few years. “There is a pervasive misconception that student government doesn’t matter, or can’t effect change, however, the long history of successes at SGA prove otherwise. It’s true that change is difficult, and that the road of improvement is tough. But something I have learned from upperclass students in SGA is that when you wonder whether something is possible, with hard work and persistence it usually is.”

Considering that all three senators are studying government and had plans to continue being associated with the government after graduation, they were asked whether they had any plans to work toward a higher office within the SGA.“So far I’m dedicated to my role as SGA Senator and my position on the Finance Committee. I’m focused on doing the best and the most I can this year, in my role,” said Batalvi, “I want to continue to be involved and effect positive change, wherever that takes me. If that means taking on greater responsibility, then that’s something that I would be open to considering.”

It has been clear in the news and around campus that Suffolk has been having troubles with housing, food, and the board of directors switching presidents relatively often. The senators were asked what they find needs to be improved about Suffolk.

Batalvi answered, “I believe that Suffolk University deserves better than a pattern of unstable leadership at the high offices of our institution. Our dedicated faculty, promising students, and hardworking staff deserve better,” when referring to instability in the office of the university president and board of directors. “The solution to an issue like this will necessarily not be singular. The first step is awareness and open communication between all the participants and the students of Suffolk, and I’m hoping to facilitate that in my role.”

As the interview came to a close, each senator made one final statement to the class to the class of 2020. Batalvi clearly stated, “I’m grateful and humbled by the trust you have placed in me and by the opportunity to represent you. I’m not blind to the challenges our university faces, but I’m excited by the promise and potential of everyone I’ve met, to do our part in improving our home, our Suffolk. I truly believe Suffolk University’s best days are still ahead of us. This is only a beginning, not an end, and so I hope that we all continue to participate and get started with the work of making Suffolk the absolute best it can be.”

The senators have a long year ahead of them and very clear paths set ahead of themselves. Hopefully their determination and hard work will lead the Class of 2020 into a successful school year.

*This article has been edited for content size. No specific statements have been altered. The original version of the article can be found at: The Suffolk Journal | Freshmen SGA Senators Look to a New Year, by Catarina Protano.