North Texas Daily

SGA presidential candidates focus on inclusion, student participation

SGA presidential candidates focus on inclusion, student participation

SGA presidential candidates focus on inclusion, student participation
March 30
08:00 2022

This year’s Student Government Association presidential election has two pairs of candidates — one on the ballot and one write-in campaign. 

Presidential candidate Jermaine “JT” Turner and vice-presidential candidate Aalyhia Shillow are part of the “It’s Now or Never” platform, while presidential candidate Kumail Syed and vice-presidential candidate Hamza Faisal make up the “We Are One of You” platform. Voting runs until 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 and can be done online on Campus Labs, which can be found at

Turner-Shillow campaign 

Integrative studies junior Turner is a member of the Honors College on the pre-law track. He currently serves as the Black Student Union president, SGA Intern Program director and the resident assistant for the MARTIAL Eagle Living Learning Community in Rawlins Hall.

Vice-presidential candidate Shillow is an education junior and also a member of the Honors College. She currently serves as a senator for the College of Education, director of administration for the Black Student Union and the membership coordinator of the Black Student Experience.

Shillow and Turner’s relationship is coming up on seven years, having attended the same Duncanville high school and played as double’s partners on the varsity tennis team.

“We’re good leaders that want to serve our community to the best ability possible,” Turner said. “Also, we’re people that don’t take no for an answer.”

The campaign has four major platform pillars: student engagement and campus outreach, inclusion and equity, academic and social advancement and SGA sustainability. 

Regarding student government, Turner and Shillow said they want to address student disconnect with SGA and address “complacency” within the organization. 

“Every student pays into the Student Service Fee, so whether they participate in student government or not, they still deserve to be advocated for,” Turner said. “[…] It’s time for us to have SGA leadership that is advocacy-focus based because that is what it was created upon in 1949.”

Outside of SGA, Turner and Shillow want students to feel like they belong on campus, which includes helping marginalized communities while also advocating for the student body as a whole. As Black-identifying candidates, Shillow said she and Turner are connected to other minorities on campus.

“We’ve seen the gaps and the implications that come from not having leaders understand the struggle of marginalized communities,” Shillow said.

One inclusion-focused campaign initiative includes a push for campus mental health counseling services to better match the makeup of the student body, Shillow said. Another is having sign language translators at every event on campus, Turner said.

Other initiatives include increased financial support for students. Turner said a student emergency fund run in partnership with Student Affairs and Chief Financial Officer Clayton Gibson could be used to pay for parking tickets and permits, housing and other necessities. The candidates also said the campaign will push for a $15 student minimum wage to combat the rising cost of living. 

“At the end of the day, students cannot feasibly live right now off of student employment,” Turner said.

Turner and Shillow said their previous student leadership experience has helped them form relationships with university administration, which will foster open conversations and accountability. 

“If we’re able to have a normal, everyday conversation […] when I’m bringing something your way, you’re more likely to buy into my vision,” Shillow said.

As SGA faces low voter rates and decreased student participation, the candidates encourage students to let their voices be heard through civic engagement. 

“You should always vote and participate […] if you vote, that is the first part of accountability for later on when [SGA] isn’t doing our part,” Turner said.

Syed-Faisal campaign

Presidential candidate and business computer information science junior Syed currently serves as the Association for Information Systems treasurer, Pakistani Student Association events director and is a member of the Muslim Student Association. 

Vice-presidential candidate and supply chain sophomore Faisal is also a member of PSA and MSA, as well as a member of the Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity. 

The candidates’ write-in campaign was announced at 5:48 p.m. on March 29 through the SGA Twitter page. Syed said the pair decided to run because they are members of on-campus organizations and wanted to do more for the student body.

“I believe that as a minority group student it is time for someone to stand up for our rights,” Syed said. 

Equal representation and empowerment are core pillars of Syed and Faisal’s platform. Syed said he aspires to be the voice of the student body, which he sees as culturally, racially and religiously diverse. 

Syed also said he and Faisal would help students achieve their social and educational goals by connecting with them and encouraging on-campus participation. Syed wants to support minority student organizations by supporting their events, while Faisal said he would like to sponsor culturally diverse events such as a Dia de los Muertos celebration in collaboration with the Multicultural Greek Council.

“We are connected to many student bodies and can be very vocal,” Syed said.

Another campaign initiative focuses on advocacy for students working part-time jobs during their studies. Syed said he would push for more flexible deadlines in class for these students, as well as a higher on-campus minimum wage. He also wants to advocate for more flexible work hours for international students, whose weekly work hours are limited by federal law. 

While Syed and Faisal’s campaign was announced after some students had already voted in the election, Syed said they see the experience as a learning opportunity no matter the outcome. 

“If we’re not elected, we can run again next year and gain experience [in this election],” Syed said.

Editor’s note: In light of full transparency this election season, the North Texas Daily would like to disclose possible conflicts of interest in this year’s election. The current editor-in-chief, Maria Lawson, collaborates in campus organizations with members of the Turner-Shillow ticket. However, for this reason, she has remained independent from this year’s election coverage. Each ticket was given the same interview questions and opportunity to share their platform. 

Featured Image: A promotional poster stands in front of the doors to the SGA office on April 28, 2022. Photo by John Anderson

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Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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