During the Consolidated Students of UNLV Senate meeting on March 20, former Senate President candidate, Zachary Johnigan withdrew from the election with the following statement:
“At this time, the HOPE ticket does not meet the minimum requirements to be recognized as a ticket as per the CSUN By-Laws. At this time I will have to withdraw my candidacy for election to the CSUN executive board. This campaign was a good learning experience. I will use these experiences for my leadership journey moving forward into the future of my service to students and my community. I also intend to continue the mission that was instilled upon me while I served at the College of Southern Nevada, which is to empower our communities and students to achieve, succeed, and prosper.”
The former candidate for Student Body Vice President Mateo Portelli recounted Johnigan’s comments stating, “Following remarks made by Senator Johnigan during the Feb. 27 Senate Meeting, Senator Toledo publicly disavowed the HOPE Campaign and removed himself from the public campaign trail. On March 14, two weeks later, and after discussing with close advisors and fellow students, I sent an email to Advisor Dow requesting that my name be removed from the ballot.”
When asked about the campaign as a learning experience, Portelli recounted learning about student priorities, explaining “Rebels have clear and present concerns about the safety, fairness, and accessibility of their campus. Parking on campus is a mess, paying for college is a stress, and we have so many resources with so little awareness.”
Continuing, Portelli began discussing the relationship he had observed between students and their elected government. He said, “It’s also self-evident that the majority of students (at least with whom I had the pleasure of speaking) have great ideas for improving our campus and various colleges, but either feel like their own senators are too distant, or feel that CSUN cannot be trusted to execute on projects because of previous sessions’ inactivity.”
“Rebels deserve a student body government that will aggressively and passionately advocate for their concerns, using their (the students’) time and money wisely,” Portelli remarked.
Portelli also discussed his interaction with Empow3red. “When I had made my decision to remove my name from consideration for Vice President, I had a phone call with current Senator and CSUN President-elect Makayla Franklin. She spoke about this situation with grace, and gave me peace of mind that she will be a strong leader who promotes diversity of thought and background throughout the Executive Branch and will fight to improve the professional conduct of the Student Government,” Portelli said.
Portelli continued to affirm commitments to the same policy goals as during the campaign, as well as express support for the newly elected executive ticket. “I have no doubt that Empow3red will be strong advocates for the UNLV Student Body, and I look forward to supporting their Administration as much as I can, while keeping with the mission of HOPE to reform campus parking, strengthen student services, and reduce students’ financial burdens,” Portelli added.
Finally, Portelli shared, “As for advice? Get involved. If you read something in the CSUN Constitution you dislike, push to amend it. If you read something in the CSUN By-laws you dislike, push your Senator to repeal and reform it. If you see something in your Senator you dislike, respectfully bring this up to him or her; if you don’t see change as likely, then run against him or her in the Fall. Be active — this is your campus as much as it is anyone else’s in current leadership.”
Portelli posited that there are certain reasons every student should be invested in the happenings of student government. “Every single student, by virtue of paying tuition, is an involuntary shareholder in student government: You pay for CSUN, whether or not you want to. It’s best, then, that the mechanisms of your student government are not just closely watched to promote transparency, but indeed they are given oversight by you, the student body,” Portelli elaborated.
Finally, Portelli explained that these lessons extend beyond the scope of CSUN. Portelli concluded, “Do not be afraid to demand public records, to attend meetings of the Senate or any of its committees, or to email officers in CSUN. Be active with the Scarlet & Gray Free Press. As with every major organization and project, and as is true with our local, state, and Federal governments, CSUN will only get better when you care for its success. And never lose hope!”