Meet the candidates and get to know USG: Student Body President

Jillian Schrift, Reporter

Editor’s Note: All interviews were conducted via email question-and-answer responses.

The Undergraduate Student Government has been the direct line of communication to the university’s administration, representing the interests of the student body since 1924. Voting in the upcoming election will help students see the representation they want. 

USG’s main goal is “to be the voice of the students and always put students first,” according to its website. USG provides services, resources and programs to Kent State’s undergraduate students. Over 28 funding requests have been granted and $231,000 have been allocated in the 2021-2022 academic year, according to its website. 

“It’s important for students to vote in our upcoming election because our candidates have decided to run to make a change on campus as well as represent their peers,” said Grace Schick, the USG election commissioner. 

Some of the changes that candidates hope to make include spreading the word about funding allocations, installing nap pods, implementing systems to support Indigenous students, making sure ADA accessibility buttons function correctly and more.

Around 10% to 15% of all undergraduate students tend to vote in the USG elections, according to student enrollment data. A good voter turnout is key for a successful election, as USG functions because of the students. 

The positions up for election include one president, eight directors and 10 senators representing 10 academic colleges. 

Voting will open at 8 a.m. March 21 and close at 5 p.m. March 22. All undergraduate students on the Kent campus are eligible to vote. On the ballots, students will see all presidential and cabinet candidates but will only see the senatorial candidates running for their respective college.

 The link for voting can be found on its website, Instagram and Twitter. 

Student Body President

Juliana Buonaiuto 

Juliana Buonaiuto is a junior marketing major with a minor in entrepreneurship. She is from Long Island, New York, and has been on USG for two years. She first served as the Senator for the Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship and is currently serving as the Director of Communication and Marketing. 

Juliana Buonaiuto is running for Student Body President. (Courtesy of Mary Jewell)

As a director, she planned USG’s first Week of Kindness, which was an event week focused on supporting student mental health and giving students the tools to practice self-care in their everyday lives. In her time at Kent, she has been a Flashguide and a Student Success Leader. Her biggest values are community, empowerment and growth.

Q: What is your platform/issues you are running for?

 A: Most of my platform revolves around student well-being and mental health, as well as advocacy for students with disabilities. As a student who needs accommodations, I have faced lots of barriers to success when entering the world of higher education. Being a student with a disability is already hard growing up, but gets even harder when you want to continue your education beyond high school. I have been lucky enough to have access to the support services I have needed, but this is not the case for all students, and the barriers to success are even larger for students with marginalized identities. I would really like to bring attention to the difficulties for students with disabilities and try to break down some of the barriers to success we face. 

As per mental health, it is no secret that college students are facing a mental health crisis. I hope to not only spread awareness about the mental health resources we already have on campus but also help university administrators in their efforts to expand these resources.

Q: Why do you want to be elected?

A: I want to be elected because USG has been a cornerstone of my college experience, and I want to use the tools and experiences I have gained in the past three years to create real change at Kent State in my final year here. I know it’s cliché, but I truly believe in leaving a place better than how I found it. I want future students to have an improved experience at Kent State.

 Q: What are changes you look to enact?

A: The biggest initiative I would like to push forward is advocating for the installation of nap pods on campus. Multiple universities, including the University of Akron and the University of Miami, have added nap pods on their campuses and seen major benefits to the student body. Rest is so important, especially while pursuing an education, and I want this to be easily accessible on campus, especially for commuter students. 

I’d also like to ensure that all ADA accessibility buttons and elevators on campus are functioning and that students have access to the information they need to have them fixed when they are not working correctly. I’ve seen many ADA buttons stop functioning for weeks at a time, and elevators for days at a time because information on how to contact maintenance is not readily available. 

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

A: I would really like to thank everyone for the opportunity to potentially represent you all as your Student Body President. Not everyone knows this about me, but because of the struggles I faced as a student with a disability in high school, I really was not sure about attending college and didn’t know if I would be able to make it to graduation. Clearly, I proved myself wrong, but it is really humbling to receive so much support. I know that if you told me three years ago that would be running for Student Body President, I would not have believed you for a second. Thank you to those who have believed in me and gotten me to the point where this is even possible!

Jillian Schrift is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].