By Sam Draddy

For The Diamondback

On the eve of the SGA’s elections, the elections commissions hosted a town hall to provide further details on the Activate Maryland candidates’ platform.

This year, there will be only one party on the Student Government Association ballot, and candidates from the party were asked general ticket and candidate-specific questions. Adjusting to the pandemic, mental health, student safety and transparency were key themes throughout the town hall.

Candidates also emphasized their previous work on the SGA and how that would serve them well in the position they are running for.

Activate Maryland’s presidential candidate, Kislay Parashar, serves as the current speaker of the legislature in the SGA and Josie Shaffer, the vice-presidential candidate, currently serves as the director of student affairs for the SGA.

“I think there’s a lot of good people in SGA and there’s a lot of good work left to be done, and I’m excited that I do have the opportunity to still change things on campus,” Shaffer said. “I’m so happy to be able to be running for vice president and I’ve learned so much from the past administration and the administration before that.”

[This year’s SGA election ballot will include a question about Francis Scott Key]

Activate Maryland’s main goals are to make education accessible to students, develop a diverse and inclusive culture on campus, focus on sustainability and work with student organizations.

Shaffer said she has worked on initiatives that include adding more crosswalks around campus and improving safety through the addition or fixing of lampposts.

As student body president, Parashar said he would work closely with the university’s sustainability committee to make the university a more sustainable and green campus for students.

In response to a question about the wave of racial violence happening nationwide and how it impacts the campus culture, Parashar said the campus is not a perfect environment regarding topics such as racial injustice and diversity, and it is important the SGA looks into developing more cultural spaces similar to the Nyumburu Cultural Center.

[UMD student affairs VP Patty Perillo talks vaccines, fall semester outlook at town hall]

“As a ticket … we all plan to work towards creating an inclusive space where all these people can come together and have the conversation,” said Parashar.

Parashar also emphasized the importance of getting students vaccinated before they return to campus in order to create a smooth transition to an in-person environment. He also stated the importance of having an in-person experience, as there will be two classes worth of students who have never experienced normal on-campus life at this university.

“The university has seen big turmoil with the COVID, the racial unrest, the elections and so many other things happening,” Parashar said. “I think it is up to the student government, to basically make sure that the students are feeling welcome to this university.”

Voting for the election begins on April 20 at 8 a.m. and closes on April 22 at 4 p.m.