Cilento, Vinson reflect on their term as elections approach
February 10, 2017
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Associated Student Government President Christina Cilento and executive vice president Macs Vinson always wanted to connect with a wide range of students on campus.
But the beginning of their term proved divisive, Vinson said.
“Christina and Macs as a concept is scandalous,” said Vinson, a McCormick senior. “We started this campaign by literally saying, ‘We are centering this campaign on marginalized students.’ We decided that this is what our focus is going to be.”
Shortly after Cilento and Vinson were sworn in, ASG’s election commission ruled they had obtained information on the voting margin before polls had closed and failed to disclose the information to the election commission and their opponents. Senate voted to punish the two soon afterward, adding extra challenges for the beginning of their term, Cilento said.
Economics Prof. Mark Witte, ASG’s adviser, said before Cilento and Vinson could move forward, they had to win over students supporting Joji Syed and Archit Baskaran, who ran against Cilento and Vinson. Witte said many students who had supported the losing ticket felt betrayed by the election process.
“They worked for something for years, and then on the decisive day something crappy comes along and messes it up,” Witte said.
But Cilento said the duo was up to the challenge and made sure they didn’t let the extra hurdles interfere with their agenda of raising marginalized voices. She said she felt they have accomplished a “decent amount” and had accepted the idea that they had to work harder to gain back some students’ trust.
After a variety of initiatives, from working with administrators to increase the number of low-income students on campus in the future to advocating for responsible investment decisions from the Board of Trustees, the pair feel they have accomplished a lot of that goal.
Witte said he agreed that Cilento and Vinson have succeeded in amplifying marginalized voices on campus. The pair tried to make events and groups across campus more affordable, so that all students can receive a similar college experience, he said.
“They ran on trying to stay in touch with the parts of the student body that don’t always get heard from, and I think they’ve stayed very true to that,” Witte said.
Since taking office, Cilento said she feels the pair has also successfully reacted to issues and concerns on campus and in the country, supporting students who were most impacted. Among them is the distribution of free menstrual products after an ASG survey showed a high demand among students, and the distribution of free bike helmets after the death of first-year student Chuyuan Qiu, who was killed in a bike accident on Sept. 22.
As their term nears its end, Cilento said she and Vinson are still pushing for more transparency between senators and their constituents. Cilento said the pair is planning to launch a webpage in March that would allow students to see how their ASG senators vote on legislation.
Though the pair has always wanted to encourage engagement between the student body and ASG, they both said there remains a lot of work to be done.
Cilento and Vinson are also focused on a funding reform that could increase the student activities fee to allow A-status and B-status groups more money to fund student organizations. They plan to propose their plan to the Board of Trustees before their term ends.
“A lot of the efforts we’ve undertaken as a student government really reflect this desire to keep students involved and keep them in the conversation,” Vinson said.
Ultimately, Cilento and Vinson said, they want to stay true to their campaign goals and involve all perspectives in ASG. Vinson said he hopes the next administration rededicates the organization to focusing on students with marginalized identities.
“We want to see someone who’s going to come into this position and think critically about how this job works,” Vinson said. “I want to see someone who gets me excited for the future of ASG because I think that’s one of the reasons why every day I can get myself into it.”