Q&A with SGA student body president, vice president candidates


Courtesy of #SEUFORYOU; Courtesy of Victoria Gomez

(Right to left) Michelle Flores is running for the role of president with Bri Boughter who is running for vice president. Also on the ballot is Jae DeLeon for president, who is running with her counterpart Jay Perez, pictured in the laptop.

It’s been a year of adaptations and adjustments for college students trying to navigate school and the pandemic. However, at St. Edward’s, one thing remains the same — Student Government Association election season. From April 5 through April 9, the student body will vote for the duo to represent them for the next school year. As we prepare to return to the Hilltop, students search for leaders who will resonate with their experiences and serve as a voice for them.

We sat down with both teams running for President and Vice President this election season to see what they can offer Hilltoppers.

Michelle Flores and Briana (Bri) Boughter announced their campaign, #SEUFORYOU, on March 29. Flores is running for student body president along with her counterpart Boughter, a vice presidential candidate. Flores, an El Paso native, belongs to the class of 2022 and majors in political science with a minor in international business. Rising junior, Boughter, calls South Padre Island home and is majoring in biology with a minor in sociology. 

Also on the ballot are Jae DeLeon and Jay Perez, running with the slogan #FORWHENWERETURN. DeLeon and Perez also announced their campaign on Instagram on March 29. Rising senior DeLeon is a Dallas native and behavioral neuroscience major running for student body president. Running for vice president with DeLeon is rising senior Perez from McAllen, Texas. He is a double-major in finance and political science. Of the four, Perez spent the past academic year learning from home due to COVID-19. 

Q: What does your campaign entail?

Flores & Boughter: This campaign really emphasizes the importance of sustainability, inclusivity and accessibility both in student government and throughout the entire St. Ed’s community. #SEUFORYOU was created just so the members of our community could feel like the people in charge were truly wanting to make a community and a system representative of them, their needs and their concerns. When you do go to college you should be in an environment where you do feel supported and I think St. Ed’s does have a lot of supportive resources, it’s just a matter of making them known. SEU should work for the students and for the student body. 

DeLeon & Perez: We want to make sure that St. Edward’s is prepared for the transition back to campus. We weren’t prepared for COVID, we kind of got thrown into it. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We want to make sure that campus is ready for a successful transition for students. The other side of our platform does include engagement, inclusion for people online but also for the BIPOC community, the LGBTQ community because we have seen where it needs improvement. We want students who will be at home to be more engaged, more active… to be heard. 

Q: Throughout the past year, racial discrimination has been brought to light. We recently witnessed anti-semitic graffiti on campus. What measures do you plan to pursue to make all people feel welcome on campus?

Flores & Boughter: We want to be supportive of everyone on campus, but a big part of that is magnifying minority voices. We’ve discussed having a suggestion box which is an online form where students can suggest concerns or suggestions if they feel there are places for improvement. Specifically to the anti-semitic graffiti on campus, there’s sensitivity training that we want to require and would like SGA members to be trained in reporting a hate crime. For religious diversity, we plan on providing students with a list of locations of places of worship that exist near campus so they can find friends of the same age and of the same religion they can worship with. Another thing we’re pushing for is to make the new location of the Muslim prayer room better known, which is moving to Ragsdale.

DeLeon & Perez: St. Edward’s is a Catholic University, but being Catholic is being respectful and understanding of other religions. We need to work harder on making sure that we respect and understand them (non-Catholics). We want to implement a zero tolerance policy for racism and discrimination, covering any hate towards religion, LGBTQ, BIPOC; anything that’s against that, they should be removed from campus. We say that because there are a lot of workshops that go around campus. It’s open to all students, there are some that are mandatory… but the issue with these workshops are the people that go to them are the people that want to learn. The people that are racist, causing issues, being hateful, they don’t want to learn so they’re not learning at all. There needs to be action and in order to make the community feel safe, we need to remove the people that make the community feel unsafe. 

Q: What top three issues do you feel need to be addressed at St. Edward’s?

Flores & Boughter: Sustainability, communication and inclusivity.

DeLeon & Perez: Mental health, diversity and inclusion and student engagement.

Q: Students are exhausted, to say the least, after this full year of remote learning. What do you plan to do to help students transition back?

Flores & Boughter: One of the things we prioritize throughout our campaign is mental health and allowing [students] to have resources that can help them in battling with any mental health issues. We’re fighting for the option of having one Pass/No Pass elective class per semester, even after COVID-19. We’ve had a variation of that passed both last fall and this spring, but Pass/No Pass allows students to take risks and explore their interests. It allows them to pursue new subject matter that they normally wouldn’t pursue because of the fear of lowering their GPA. We know that St. Edward’s has formed a partnership with Baylor-Scott and White Clinic and thereby doesn’t have the HCC on campus open anymore. We want to make that known that it is a resource completely accessible to students and for free with St. Edward’s insurance. 

DeLeon & Perez: Educational-wise, we want to make sure the library goes back to full hours. In terms of learning tools, we should keep the online resources that we have now like TutorMe, which has been super beneficial for people who know about it, and we need to make that more known, that we have an online tutoring service that’s free. We want to create a system where people can sign up for study groups. We want people to have the option to meet with other people in the class to have that social interaction and excel. We want to make sure St. Edward’s does mid-surveys per semester that are anonymous. That lets us know how the blended classroom is working and what needs to change. We want to provide the availability to increase on-campus therapists that maybe focus on an online format. We also want to keep Wellness Days in addition to scheduled breaks for students.

Q: As St. Edward’s welcomes a new president to campus, how will you serve as a liaison between students and President Montserrat Fuentes?

Flores & Boughter: We’re excited about having a new administration because that opens up new possibilities. Our new president is Latina and I think that also is really important to magnify. It’s cool to celebrate that fact because there is such a huge Latino population on campus. This is a new person with a new perspective and we’re excited to get her point of view and her thoughts. Being able to have that communication and have people be comfortable coming to us will help us facilitate a better, well-rounded conversation with this new leadership. We want to strengthen that bridge between administration and student leaders so that the student body has a more prosperous environment to get change made. 

DeLeon & Perez: As President and Vice President, we’d be working closely with her. A lot of times presidents aren’t directly active with the students. But that’s SGA’s job to make sure we relay information to her. It’s important for her to realize we’re a very passionate group here. Sometimes we go at it a little hard and we like to get our way. But sometimes we come off a little aggressive, so in order for us to be more patient with her, she has to be present in our community. 

Student Government elections began April 5 and end April 9. Students can cast their votes here