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The Hilltop Spring 2023 Election Guide

Photo of shoes making a “V” to complete the word “Vote.”  Photo Courtesy of Flickr. 

During the last week of campaigning, The Hilltop compiled a list of questions and answers from the two Howard University Student Association executive candidate slates and seven senatorial candidates who responded to our questionnaire, which was sent out to every candidate. Candidates not included did not respond in time for publication. 

DeShawn Carter (HUSA presidential candidate) & Hugh Goffinet (HUSA vice presidential candidate) – DeShawn Carter: Carter is a 21-year-old junior political science major, journalism minor from the Bay Area, California.

Nia Naylor (HUSA presidential candidate) and Murphy Jones (HUSA vice presidential candidate) – Naylor is a junior political science major, secondary education and legal communications double minor from New Castle, Delaware. Jones is a sophomore political science major, strategic and legal communications minor from Forth Worth, TX by way of Greensboro, NC. 

Zion Eldridge (COAS senatorial candidate): Eldridge is a 19-year-old political science major from Youngstown & Columbus, Ohio.

Julian Szyszka (SOB senatorial candidate) – Szyszka is a 20-year-old junior international business major from Chicago, IL.

Christopher Ricks (COAS senatorial candidate) –  Ricks is a political science major from Dallas, Texas.

Brian Singleton (COAS senatorial candidate) – Singleton is a 19-year-old freshman political science and psychology double major from Detroit, Michigan.

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Devon Selmon (COAS senatorial candidate) – Selmon is a 19-year-old Afro American studies and criminology double major from Minnesota.

Daunté Evans (COAS senator candidate) –  Evans is a freshman economics major from Dominica, West Indies.

Sylvia Nganga (COAS)–Nganga is a 19-year-old freshman political science major from Apex, NC. 

The Hilltop: In no more than 100 words, tell the Howard community a little bit about yourself.

Deshawn Carter

I am a first-generation college student from Bay Area, California. I was a theater kid for most of my life until I found a passion for political news. One of my role models is Trevor Noah, host of “The Daily Show.” I hope to find my voice to help me have my very own night show aired on television!

Zion Eldridge

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My name is Zion Eldridge, and I’m a political science major from Ohio. I wanted to attend an institution that would cultivate my skills and allow me to embrace my culture and intellect. Funnily enough, when researching political families, I read that the Kennedys and Tafts had Harvard, and the Bushs and Clintons had Yale. I thought, “Why don’t the Eldridges take Howard before it’s too late?” I’m here to create a name and dynasty for my family for future generations. I will be a senator one day, so I figured Howard would be a good start. 

Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones have dedicated their entire Howard career to improving Howard University students’ overall experience. With Nia having the opportunity to serve as HUSA Senate Vice-Chairwoman and Murphy Jones serving as Mister College of Arts and Sciences, they hope to use their combined experience to serve the people of Howard University.

Julian Szyszka

Julian Szyszka is a junior honors international business major, from Chicago, IL. He is a member of the Howard University speech and debate team where he was pronounced the 2022 parliamentary debate champion and the 2023 parliamentary debate top speaker. Additionally, Julian is a proud member of the Howard University Mock Trial Team, serves as the business manager at The Hilltop, and is a member of the School of Business Executive Leadership Honors Program. He is passionate about advocating for issues pertinent to his communities, empowering himself and others to stand up for their beliefs, and leaving a unique and impactful legacy in every space he is in.

Christopher Ricks

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Hello Bison, I am Christopher Ricks a sophomore political science major from Dallas, Texas running for re-election to be one of your nine COAS senators in HUSA Senate. Focusing on matriculation, increasing access to student government and its resources, and focusing on community service and outreach.

Brian Singleton

I came to Howard’s campus so excited to get the Howard-level HBCU experience. While I LOVE my HBCU, I was frustrated by some of the seemingly fixable problems on campus. Instead of sitting in this frustration, I want to help address the student body’s problems and concerns with the school. I would love to help create a school closer to the illustrious Howard University we were all so excited to attend. So, I chose to run for Senate on the platform E.A.T, committing to engage the school community, advocate for students, and restore trust in Howard as an institution.

Devon Selmon

I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was the senior class president of my high school student council, two-year president of the mock trial team, captain of the swim team, and currently serve as the only freshman on the A-team for the Howard mock trial team. I come from a very large family and I’m a complete mama’s boy. I enjoy singing, hanging with friends, songwriting, and TikTok. I pride myself on being someone who is honest, upfront, and hardworking.

Daunté Evans

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My name is Daunté Evans. I am a freshman economics major from Dominica, West Indies. At 16, I moved to the United States to attend a boarding school. I spent two years there and I was homeschooled for my senior year. I’ve lived in many different places including Antigua, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and now here in D.C. vying for the position of your next COAS senator. I am a first-year associate within HUSA working in the Office of the Chief Financial Advisor, a member of the Howard University speech and debate team, and your 2023 Persuasive Speaking National Champion.  

Sylvia Nganga

Hello, everyone! My name is Sylvia Nganga and I am a freshman pre-law political science major from Apex, NC! I am a first-generation immigrant from Kenya and a first-generation college student. I am a dedicated and passionate leader with a goal of creating positive change in my community through service at the intersection of law, public policy, and criminal justice reform.

The Hilltop: What is your #1 priority for Howard students and why? 

Deshawn Carter

Alleviating the difficulties and stigmas that burden any real progression towards strategies that produce self-care. Mental health is not a problem exclusive to Howard University but the entire Black community. Giving students here the tools to promote self-care to then bring back home to utilize is essential is combating the mental health crisis in the Black community.

Zion Eldridge

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Transparency, most people have yet to learn what HUSA is. That’s a huge problem; most students don’t know what they do and how they pay a fee that funds their budget. I’ll commit to posting my legislation, discussing the budget process, and hosting town halls with different groups on campus. 

Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

Our number one priority for Howard students is creating a more efficient student government. Student governments’ job is to serve, advocate, and represent the study body in all rooms. By creating a more efficient government, we can ensure that we are solving the problems of all of our constituents such as housing, financial aid, and programming, in a way that makes sense to all of our students.

Julian Szyszka

The main priority anyone running to represent students and influence change should focus on is removing the barriers to accessing education present in the lives of many Howard students. When students don’t have access to basic necessities such as housing, groceries, proper transportation, proper scheduling, etc… it makes being successful as a student extremely difficult. I believe that students should be empowered to solely focus on their academics, extracurriculars, and dreams while attending university and it is our job to advocate to remove these unnecessary barriers that inhibit our students.

Christopher Ricks

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Ensuring we help all students graduate and have an enjoyable Howard experience. Relieving financial and mental burdens so we can enhance the Howard experience.

Brian Singleton

I want to create the visible change that students want to see. I think it would be so discouraging for students to voice their concerns and feel ignored or unheard. Students are already being vocal about what change they want to see, and my number one priority is to hear them and their concerns and help put resolutions into effect.

Devon Selmon

My number one priority is for Howard students to know who to go to and how to enact effective and efficient change. This is important to me because coming from a state where Black voices are silenced, I want to be someone who uplifts and supports Black voices at Howard.

Daunté Evans

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My priority for Howard students is to ensure that I serve them as faithfully and dutifully as I can. The position of a senator is one of privilege and responsibility. It is incumbent upon senators to use their station for the betterment of students and the larger Howard community. We are held to a higher standard and need to recognize that we are put in positions of power to fulfill the needs of our constituents. That is my priority for Howard students: serve them well. 

Sylvia Nganga

My number one priority as a COAS senator is student advocacy through making sure that all students from marginalized groups on campus such as first-generation, international, LGBTQIA+,  and low-income students know that their student leaders are actively listening, advocating and fighting for them. It is so important that we acknowledge that not everyone comes to college with the same resources and support. That is why with my platform, I plan to strengthen and uplift those students that way we are all supported throughout our matriculation through Howard University.

The Hilltop: What do you think are the biggest needs facing the constituency you plan on representing? How will you address these needs?

Deshawn Carter

Student engagement is essential here on Howard’s campus. We chose an HBCU experience to experience inclusivity amongst our peers. We want everyone informed of activities on campus and actually implement campus-wide events that promote engagement and diversity. A multicultural fair would give a platform to culturally affiliated organizations to express their uniqueness through music, clothing, and activities!

Zion Eldridge

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We’re producing the nation’s top doctors and lawyers. Why are current COAS students missing out on that? I want a Howard where your socioeconomic status doesn’t determine your connections or opportunity. We need those doctors, psychologists and lawyers to come in and mentor our COAS students, get them contacts, build their resumes, and keep the cycle going.

Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

One of the most major problems we see facing our constituency is the lack of financial support for Howard students. We plan to continue patterning with the Office of Alumni Relations to continue and expand the micro-scholarship program initiated under HUSA 62.

Julian Szyszka

School of Business students need their visions empowered. Everyone has different dreams and passions where they want to apply their business expertise, and it is our job to give everyone the proper platform to truly execute their dream. Right now, many students feel like the programming in the school can tend to be niche and does not account for the variety of aspirations that students may have. I want to work to help School of Business students access events that are as diverse and multifaceted as they are.

Christopher Ricks

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I think the biggest need from Howard and College of Arts and Sciences students is relieving financial burdens so students can focus on graduating and the college experience. By boosting scholarships and providing resources to students, this allows the student government to be an effective resource for all students.

Brian Singleton

N/A

Devon Selmon

The biggest need is more clear-cut communication between administrators and the student body. My platform, “Lock In Your Legacy,” seeks to start to fix this issue and forces senators to be accountable and responsible to push, not their personal goals, but the goals of the students who elected them.

Daunté Evans

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The simple truth is that there isn’t adequate funding or financial support from the school. Every day a new GoFundMe is created and as one of the top HBCUs, the mission should be to provide high-quality education for students of color without leaving a financial burden on them. Also, COAS stands as the largest school at Howard University. Yet, it doesn’t feel like COAS students are being adequately prepared for the professional world outside of Howard. Through my platform, “Go Fund Change,” financial aid, and professional development will be my priority. I will address these issues by;

  1. See to it that current scholarships and grants are more accessible to students by informing the student population of their existence in a more uniform way.
  2. Partnering with outside organizations to sponsor new COAS-specific scholarships.
  3. Making career fairs more beneficial to underclassmen COAS students by expanding the options of businesses invited and connecting more students to paid internships.
  4. Overhauling freshman seminar to resemble a more detailed, career-focused program like business orientation.

Sylvia Nganga

The biggest needs facing COAS students are the lack of campus safety, advocacy and transparency within student government. My goal as a COAS senator is to directly target those issues by authoring and passing groundbreaking legislation to uplift marginalized groups on campus with the help of students within those groups. I also want to encourage students to voice their opinion about legislation that is being argued on the Senate floor and work to allow students to be a part of the legislative process. I also plan to address the safety issues on campus and work with administrators to find solutions. 

The Hilltop: What role might alumni play in your plan to strengthen and represent your constituency?

Deshawn Carter

Our slate “Everyone In” seeks to engage with alumni as mentors by asking what did and did not work during their time at Howard University. This way we can not repeat bad history. 

Zion Eldridge

I’ve released a comprehensive plan to partner with our alumni clubs to get COAS students in their respective cities a mentor when they return home for the summer so they don’t fall behind. I  want to tap into our thousands of doctors and lawyers to increase networking opportunities for COAS students in D.C. and get us on par with SOB regarding internships and connections. The alumni are hungry to work with us, so let’s let them eat!

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Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

The alumni will play a major role in a plethora of initiatives we want to start with our administration. With the first one being our HBCU tour. We hope to work and partner with alumni clubs to assist Howard students traveling to visit other HBCUs. This tour would connect Howard students with other HBCU students and provide them the chance to experience HBCU life outside the Howard bubble.

Julian Szyszka

Alumni play a huge role as we look to connect students to a network that can truly help them push their careers forward. I want to help School of Business students connect with alumni from different schools and in a variety of roles because business is truly everywhere and the people we interact with as students should reflect that.

Christopher Ricks

Connecting alumni from across the country and industries with current students, for networking and being an inspiration to current COAS students. Helping students be successful beyond the yard.

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Brian Singleton

Alumni of Howard University have accumulated resources, connections, and experience. As a part of the HBCU culture, they are often eager to share these things with future generations of students. Alumni can bring comprehensible action plans and ideas to address problems that they may have faced during their time, and can also bring in new opportunities for students through their positions and connections in the professional world. This makes working with alumni a great opportunity to strengthen and represent the constituency.

Devon Selmon

Alumni play a huge role through active and supportive mentorship. Having mentors who have done, and succeeded at the things that you want to do, give you someone in your corner, guiding you, so that each student at Howard can produce the best version of themselves at all times.

Daunté Evans

My platform, “Go Fund Change, “provides steps we can take to address some of the financial pressures of my constituents. One of those steps is partnering with outside organizations to sponsor new COAS-specific scholarships. Alumni and alumni groups fall under this category. I plan to create partnerships with these groups as well as facilitate dialogue and action with other groups to alleviate some of the financial pressures of students most in need so there will be less Go Fund Me and more “Go Fund Change.” 

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Sylvia Nganga

Alumni are a resource on Howard University’s campus that we have not fully tapped into. I plan to partner with COAS Council, HUSA Executive, and the HUAA in order to create and fund programming where students can meet and network with alumni that are working in fields that they are interested in.​​

The Hilltop: Is campus safety a major pillar of your campaign? What kinds of legislation might you be intending to propose or sponsor to that effect?

Deshawn Carter

Within our campus life pillar, we seek to alleviate the challenges and obstacles students face on campus. We understand that mental health and safety are priorities on campus. “Everyone In” plans to help implement legislation that partners with student organizations and IVPP to create courses and after-class programs that teaches about steps you can take to be more safe here on campus.

Zion Eldridge

Campus safety is always important. I’d support a partnership between Howard University and the D.C. police system to create a neighborhood watch or “see something, say something” program. The police officers and the student body must be on a first-name basis. I’d also post a list of campus resources for hate crimes and racially charged attacks on campus.

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Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

One of the strategic initiatives that we would like to introduce under the new administration would be continuing campus safety fairs. These fairs would allow Howard students to become more acquainted with their campus police and understand the various resources campus safety has to provide.

Julian Szyszka

Removing the obstacles that inhibit students from truly just being a student is something I believe should be a priority. Campus safety is a major part of that and I will sponsor legislation that specifically looks to protect students in dorms. We saw many students’ safety within the dorms be compromised through a variety of situations, and we should do more to protect students in the places we want them to call home.

Christopher Ricks

Campus safety will follow under my pillar of community. Serving on the Community and External Affairs Committee this year, it’s possible to work with outside organizations to provide safety resources to students.

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Brian Singleton

Rebuilding trust is one of the three pillars of my campaign. I think a great way to do this is to address the safety issues on campus. We’ve had SEVERAL potentially dangerous people from outside of Howard manage to get into various student dorms over the course of this year alone. I would love to help draw up legislation to address this issue and restore the student body’s trust in Howard’s ability and commitment to protecting them.

Devon Selmon

While campus safety is important, my campaign seeks to address the issues of the student’s inability to reach administration efficiently. If they pose campus safety as a huge issue, then I as senator will make sure to address those issues with administration and work on legislation to create active and effective change.

Daunté Evans

Though campus safety is not a major pillar of my campaign, it is a major problem that is worth addressing. If elected as your next COAS senator, I will propose legislation that will increase the number of panic stations on campus that are visible to the public. Additionally, within this safety bill will be a petition for better communication between campus police, administration and the student body.

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Sylvia Nganga

Campus safety is a major aspect of my platform. Throughout this whole school year, we have heard many incidents of students that were robbed on campus, cars that were stolen, and dorms that were broken into. It’s very important that we increase on-campus security measures and allocate funding toward safety precautions. With my platform, I plan to work with the administration and campus safety committees in order to update and develop safety plans to make them more effective. I would also like to allocate funding towards the POM safety devices in order for more students on campus to have them as a resource.

The Hilltop: Do you support an increase in student activity fees, as currently being proposed by the HUSA Senate? Why or why not? 

Deshawn Carter

Yes, I agree with the increase in the student activity fee. The increase to the student activity fee should be used solely for unique and engaging events that every student can participate in which we seek to do with a cookout at the valley and a multicultural fair.

Zion Eldridge

Before we say a word about raising students’ fees, the student body needs to see the money. Why is a budget we pay confidential? I’ve got friends who work eight hours a day to pay off their student loans because Howard was their dream school, and we’ve got students dropping out and raising GoFundMe’s, so the student body deserves to see a number and know where the money is going.

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Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

We believe that more students and student organizations should have access to quality programs and have the resources to ensure that Howard students can enjoy their experience. As the demand for programming from the student body has increased, student organizations need more access to funds to ensure that we are providing students with the most quality programming. The rise in student activity fees goes not only to HUSA, but also ensures that smaller and larger organizations such as CASCADE, ASA, CSA, and the various graduate schools will have access to more funding to secure events that benefit the entire student body.

Julian Szyszka

An increase in the student activity fee has a variety of benefits that could help improve what campus life at Howard looks like. I believe this should be increased, however, we should look to relieve students’ financial stress rather than increase it. It is our duty to find a way to help students who may be financially impacted by any raise directly or find ways to alleviate the financial stresses students already have overall.

Christopher Ricks

Yes, because it will allow student government organizations and organizations around campus to have more funding, therefore enhancing student life. But I did caution as Constitutional Review Chair for the 2022-2023 year, to ensure we are able to advocate for financial support to students if we increase the student activity fee.

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Brian Singleton

While I’m not necessarily for or against the raising of the student activity fee itself, I am completely for bringing this option to the student body and allowing them to vote on whether this is a way they would like to see change created. I could see great possibilities by raising the student fee and increasing funding for leadership, but I can also think of several ways to create positive change without asking for more money from students. I think it should all come down to what the student body as a collective decides is best.

Devon Selmon

I do not support this increase for a number of reasons. Firstly, we are in an inflation, and due to that, tuition is set to increase by nearly 2 percent every semester. This is without the activity fee. Secondly, with the increase of GoFundMe’s, adding any money to the tuition can be a financial burden to all students. What’s the point in raising the fee if nobody is here to enjoy it? Lastly, the elitist mindset must be debunked. People mentioned competing with Spelman and other HBCUs, but since when has Howard competed with anyone? They compete with us. In addition, other schools receive nobody for their homecoming or spring festival. Instead of perpetuating this elitist mindset that so many Howard students have talked about hating, let’s work on being thankful for the blessing we have already received.

Daunté Evans

Raising student activity fees will allow UGSA more flexibility to host, plan, or program events that will positively impact the culture here at Howard University. Not only that, but they will be able to book higher caliber celebrities that will get Howard University more exposure. However, to do that by causing more financial burden on students, especially with the fact that tuition is going to rise regardless of the increase in student activity fees, is where I have a problem. I sympathize with this side of the argument more because I know how tough it is for college students to maintain their grades, a job, and a social life with the stressors of financial pressures. Increasing the student activity fee will only add to the stress. Until I see that increasing the fee would provide a larger net benefit than not increasing the fee, it is difficult to support it. 

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Sylvia Nganga

No, I do not support an increase in the student activity fee. Last semester, so many students on campus struggled to pay their tuition, which resulted in students having holds on their accounts and not being able to register for classes on time. There was also an increase in GoFundMe’s being made and students having to drop out of school due to not being able to pay the rest of their balance. As student leaders and representatives, it is imperative that we not just hear student concerns, but we LISTEN to them when making decisions. The benefits of raising the student activity fee make sense but it would be at the expense of students that are already struggling.

The Hilltop: What is one piece of legislation that passed this school year which you do not support? Or what is one piece of legislation that did not pass, which you do support? Why?

Deshawn Carter

One piece of legislation passed this year that I support is the Corruption Prevention Act. It is a simple piece of legislation that lowers the power of elected officials to make rules on elections due to a conflict of interests. I believe this ensures a more fair election system and gives more power to the Elections Commission.

Zion Eldridge

Easily, the Lavender Bill and its expansion. We’ve got a moral responsibility to stamp out homophobia and transphobia from the Black community and the world. Howard is raising the next generation of leaders, and those leaders set the tone for their communities. Howard MUST set a tone where our friends in the LGBTQIA+ community feel listened to. More than a committee that meets twice a year and hands a survey to Student Advocacy is required; we MUST expand and continue to build on the Lavender Committee. My agenda blocks HUSA funding to groups that don’t respect pronouns, allows the committee to meet once a month instead of twice a year, and I’d vote to fund the committee.

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Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

N/A

Julian Szyszka

I believe HUSA did not support some of the organizations that reached out for help in the fullest capacity. Outside of just financially, they should continue to support organizations by helping them try to find alternate sources or stay afloat in other unique ways. I disagreed with some of the funding decisions made and the subsequent action that was followed. I hope to pass legislation that will mitigate this in the future.

Christopher Ricks

I don’t support the piece of referenda on the ballot this spring that gives election regulation to be given to the HUSA judiciary. I believe elected leaders should still have a say and power to making our student elections fair.

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Brian Singleton

Looking through the legislation from this year was very encouraging. There was no legislation passed that I feel wasn’t closely looked at and thought through by the Senate. I am excited to work with the other members to look at legislation that wasn’t passed and improve it, as well as write new legislation entirely.

Devon Selmon

One piece of legislation that didn’t pass in the fall, and that I supported was the Lavender Bill presented by Senator Jayda Peets. I supported this because every student needs to be advocated for, and supported, and know that someone in the Senate is supporting them. In addition, after seeing them work as an ad hoc committee, it is imperative they become a standing committee to help future and current bison feel loved and supported by Howard University.

Daunté Evans

N/A

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Sylvia Nganga

The piece of legislation that did not pass this school year that I support is the bill “To Establish A Permanent Standing Lavender Committee” that was authored by Senator Jayda Peets. The LGBTQIA+ community is such a large and impactful part of Howard University’s campus and culture. I strongly believe that our student government should reflect that and adding the Lavender Committee as a permanent and standing committee is a step in the right direction.

The Hilltop: What is your opinion about the Howard University administration and your prospective office’s relationship with it?

Deshawn Carter

My opinion of Howard University’s administration is that it could be better. HUSA plans to work towards better transparency when it comes to letting students know what offices can and can not help with.

Zion Eldridge

When Howard University was founded, most members of the administration were white men from prestigious white colleges who were selected for those spots. In Howard’s modern era, the administration has produced many resources for the student body; my job is to discuss them. As the administration has become more representative of Howard’s student body, we, as student leaders and students, must do what we’ve always done: maintain Howard’s prestige and culture and fight to ensure students are heard.

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Nia Naylor and Murphy Jones 

Both Nia and myself have very strong relationships with the Howard University administration. Having the opportunity to work in the Office of University Communications, I have had the chance to witness and understand the Howard bureaucracy. I believe this will help out the administration greatly with mitigating the “Howard runaround” as it relates to students.

Julian Szyszka

I intend to work with the administration at Howard in any capacity that will lead to substantive change for students. I believe many administrative processes need to change to truly empower students at Howard University to reach their full potential. It should be everyone’s goal for the upcoming year to attempt to remove the barriers I described earlier that students face to inhibit them from even getting to the classroom.

Christopher Ricks

I believe the administration and student leaders have been making strides compared to my freshman year. Much work is to be done and I know all student leaders across campus are working on a new relationship between student leaders, students, and administration.

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Brian Singleton

I think there are many improvements to be made within the school. Some of which will need to be made in cooperation with Howard University administration. I look forward to working with the administration to bring these changes to fruition.

Devon Selmon

Administration, although a necessity, has failed Howard students. It does not adequately communicate with students and this is the exact reason I want to be a senator. To play the role of a middleman and start to change Howard to be more student-centered, rather than administration-centered.

Daunté Evans

The communication between the Office of Financial Aid and the general student body is severely lacking, so much so that students have to resort to GoFundMe’s to finance their college education. Not only do you have to wait on the phone for hours for someone from the Office of Financial Aid to answer your call, but when they do answer, it often comes off as dismissive. One of the core values of my candidacy is fostering better communication with the Office of Financial Aid and the general student body and with my platform “Go Fund Change,” you will see that: change. 

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Sylvia Nganga

Strengthening the bond between students and administration is one of the biggest points of my platform. For change to be made at Howard, it’s very important for us to have a good relationship with the administration and for them to be able to see the problems that we as students are facing. That is why with my platform, I plan to work to implement Senate workshops where students are able to meet with the administration and talk about the different issues that they are facing as students.

Copy edited by Chanice McClover-Lee and Nhandi Long-Shipman

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