Sean Vera, 20, a junior political science major, won a four-way race for president of Loyola University Chicago’s Unified Student Government Association.
According to a USGA tally, Vera received 702 votes, with runner-up Timothy McMahon received 599. The other candidates, junior Jessica Hyker and freshman Sean Anderson received 542 and 400 votes respectively.
After learning of his victory, Vera immediately began making plans to usher in a new era of student representation at the administrative level.
“The school of business is hiring a new dean and the school of social work is hiring a new dean, but there is no student representation on those decision-making bodies,” Vera said. “That’s going to be a huge goal, is to, you know, get that student voice, specifically with voting privileges… so that students are not left at the wayside by decisions that the university makes.”
He added, “I think we will be able to make this a new era, essentially, of making sure that students are put at the front of decision making and that they’re viewed as the students that they are and not just a tuition bill and an ID number.”
Vera won the USGA election with running-mate Stephanie Romeo, 20, a junior elementary education major. They were elected after two days of voting.
As president, Vera hopes to run a USGA that is not afraid to “take stands on issues.”
“We can’t shy away from controversy,” he said. “There are going to be times when people disagree with us, and sometimes those people are going to be the heads of this university, but we can’t decide to take a hands-off approach because we’re afraid of what somebody is going to say about it.”
Vera also wants to increase student awareness about USGA.
“General students don’t view the student government as a relevant part of their lives,” Vera said. “We do a lot of good things — we funded the bike club, we got the solar trash compactors on campus. We’ve done all these things but I don’t think students recognize that the USGA was at the heart of those things.”
Vera blames USGA for not doing its part to engage Loyola students.
“We haven’t made the effort to connect with students who don’t necessarily have a group behind them,” Vera said. “If there’s something that people need I want them to feel like we are the ones who they should come to for help because we are them.”
McMahon, Vera’s runner up, offered his support to the president-elect.
“Congratulations,” said McMahon, 21, a junior political science and communication studies major. “If you need anything, let me know.”
Tony Catalano, 22, a senior economics and political science major, and current USGA president offered some advice to Vera.
“Be transparent in your actions,” Catalano said in an interview. “Good times or bad times, always hold yourself accountable.”