Leslie Veloz, running on the “Voice of Change” ticket was elected president of the University at Buffalo’s Student Association this past week. Formerly the president of Black Student Union, she is a qualified, thoughtful and well-articulated individual who emphasizes the importance of her accessibility towards the student body and of an inclusive campus that makes everyone feel welcome. She believes that her primary duty as SA president is to be the top representative for the student body, and is ready and excited to listen to the concerns and desires of all different groups on campus. She plans to do this by organizing meetings with heads of clubs, organizations and faculty, but she asserts that her goal is not simply to represent the interests of clubs, but to ensure that the interests of individual students are the top priority. She strives to represent all student interests accurately.
The job of the Student Association is to advocate for improvement of quality of life on campus, which includes everything from parking grievances to discrimination problems to concert venues. The Student Association has a budget of four million dollars annually which it can dispense to address these concerns. One of her ideas for solving the parking problem involves prioritizing parking for commuter students who live anywhere outside of the directly-serviced North Campus community, so that students from Ellicott and elsewhere on North Campus cannot take up all the parking spots in the mornings. Many students have brought up parking problems as their main concern for this term.
She was motivated to run for SA president after she found that she was unable to request changes and answers from the administration with the bureaucratic organization as it is now. She felt that the association needed to be more pliable and prepared to take action when issues were brought before it, and not merely to review a petition and cast it to the side. She wants to promote flexibility in the position so that it will be able to respond more efficiently and righteously to student requests. Her campaign slogan was, “advocacy, community and transparency.” Her overarching goals are to bolster the voices of minority and marginalized groups, advocate for more female and people of color faculty members, and promote an inclusive, integrative and welcoming community that reaches beyond the campus itself. She plans to use social media, on-campus bulletin boards, and listservs to publicize fun campus events – working with the ones that already exist to make them more popular and attractive even to community members outside of the university.
She admits that getting students who are not already involved in city of Buffalo community programs to become involved outside of campus is a difficult task that many administrations have struggled with. She hopes to work with faculty and groups that have already been promoting community involvement, and to help strengthen and amplify their message. She brought up the possibility of convincing some professors to offer a couple extra credit points to incentivize students to broaden their experiences out in the city.
Another major concern that students have is the cost of renting the Center for the Arts for different events and performances. Many would like to have another recreational center that clubs can reserve for less cost and hassle, and Leslie said that in an ideal world she would love to have another space, but that would be a large undertaking and it is possible that the university will not be willing to pursue that at this time.
Leslie and the newly-elected Vice President ran as a team, but the Treasurer who was elected ran through a different party and had some clashing viewpoints to the Voice of Change platform. Leslie said that the main difference between their governing ideas is her focus on being the voice of individual students, while the treasurer thinks it best to serve club interests. She said that due to their different campaign promises, there will be some kinks to work out while they learn to work together, but that she believes they will be able to agree and cooperate, because in the end they both want what is best for the student body.