By Aleksandra Sidorova
Last year, the Student Association saw the highest ever voter turnout and the largest pool of candidates in general elections, with two candidates for each of its two top leadership positions — president and vice president. Now, they have one candidate each, and are missing candidates for treasurer and three senators entirely.
Carter Mosher and Sumeet Vishwakarma are running uncontested for president and vice president respectively.
Mosher has been involved with the Student Association in some way since he began his studies at SUNY Plattsburgh in fall 2020. He aims to spend his senior year at the top of the SA as its president.
In his first semester, Mosher became senator for public relations through a special election held within the SA Senate at a time when it “desperately needed” someone to fill the position.
“It’s not often you see a first-semester freshman on Senate,” Mosher said.
He served as the 58th and 59th SA legislations’ public relations chair and managed their social media.
Last year, also as part of the 59th legislation, Mosher was also appointed coordinator of activities and helped plan trips that proved especially popular among students — two shopping trips to Burlington, Vermont, and a Halloween trip to Salem, Massachusetts, the tickets for which sold out within hours of going on sale.
He currently serves as senator for the arts within the Senate after being voted in during the special election Feb. 23.
Mosher knew he wanted to run for one of the eight positions on the Executive Council, but wasn’t sure which he would be most comfortable in. He said he is “quite close” with the current SA President Taiba Azeem and “really close” with her predecessor, Ahmed Metwaly. SA Executive Council Adviser and Director of the Center for Student Involvement Jacob Avery gave Mosher the push to run for president, knowing what he’s capable of.
“He kind of encouraged me to run for president because he knows my potential and he knows how much I’ve done for the SA,” Mosher said. “It’s not like I didn’t want to run for president and that I needed convincing, but that definitely helped me make the decision fully that I really wanted to take on that leadership role.”
Mosher said he understands his running uncontested may make students feel like they don’t have a choice, “which can be really frustrating,” especially if the candidate is meant to represent them. Mosher said having competition would be more fun for him, too.
Mosher’s goals as president of the SA are to increase awareness among the student body of the SA and what it does, tune his student advocacy toward events that happen on campus and continue the current legislation’s work in boosting student involvement.
A big goal for Mosher is awareness. He recalled his own experience as a first-year.
“It took me the first two months before I realized what the SA was,” Mosher said.
He aims to include information about the SA in orientation programs for new students and promote it to the student body, which he also believes will result in higher participation in SA elections.
“I feel like the SA maybe didn’t do enough promotion of [elections], and I feel like that’s something that’s always been an issue, students either not wanting to get involved or not knowing how to get involved,” Mosher said.
Mosher also hopes it will increase student involvement to the levels the college boasted pre-COVID-19, with more than 150 clubs and always something happening on campus. During COVID, the number slipped down to 30, and currently there are about 60, according to Avery.
“COVID really just killed the school,” Mosher said. “I feel like COVID-19 really brought down a lot of the joy of being on a college campus, and I want to bring back that joy.”
In regards to advocacy being timely with current events, Mosher mentioned conversations about campus safety in light of the recent false shooter threat at Plattsburgh High School. Advocacy, requiring strong communication skills, comes easy for Mosher.
Mosher double majors in marketing and international business and is from Johnstown, New York. He said he is social, outgoing and “always with people,” looking to have a good time, start discussions and get to know them.
To Mosher, communication and rapport within a team is key to its success and stability. He plans to get closer with the rest of the 61st legislation during its meetings over the summer.
“[A stable team means] knowing each other, working together and knowing what it means to advocate for students and to basically be the voices of students,” Mosher said.
Vishwakarma, like Mosher, knew he wanted to run for an Executive Council position.
To prepare, he asked current serving officers about their responsibilities while he was in the process of gathering the 115 signatures required to run for Executive Council. Vishwakarma concluded that the position of vice president suited his goals and what he wants to “improve in the university and bring to the students.”
The VP responsibilities that attracted him are presiding over meetings, supporting the president and advocating for students as well as building relationships with them. Like Mosher, Vishwakarma is especially good at the latter, as he said he is always “open to everyone” and works to be involved in conversations and understand any questions that come his way.
Vishwakarma has been a senator in the SA for almost two months, which he said will help him in his vice president role because he is already familiar with how SA functions. He was elected in the most recent special election alongside Mosher, among the four winning candidates out of nine total. Vishwakarma called Mosher a “good competitor” and a “really good senator” and said he looks forward to both assisting Mosher as part of his duties as well as learning from him.
During his term, Vishwakarma aims to improve student activity, as well as the quality and variety of campus food. Campus safety is also a concern for Vishwakarma following an accident March 8, in which a student was hit by a car. He said he will be addressing some of the complaints he heard even before he becomes vice president by appearing in Senate and Executive Council meetings.
In regards to student involvement, Vishwakarma said he wants to keep the current momentum in the rise of student activity and see more diversity in club events. He believes this can be achieved by encouraging programming that appeals to the entire campus.
“We have observed that clubs are growing, though events are mostly based on their ethnicity and not involving everyone, which we can try to improve in the next academic year,” Vishwakarma said. “I think this whole academic year was really successful for the SA, and I would keep up the same work and try to improve more, if possible.”
Vishwakarma acknowledged the worry his running uncontested can have on students, but the position can’t stand empty, either.
“We need people to stand up for this position,” Vishwakarma said. “Even, in the future, if I have a competitor, the most capable person should get elected.”
Vishwakarma’s goal is to steer the college closer to environmental sustainability. He said there is a lot of funding for environmental sustainability projects with no ideas on how to use it, and likewise, a lot of ideas that haven’t yet been implemented. The 60th legislation has already passed a resolution for environmental sustainability at SUNY Plattsburgh Nov. 3, 2022, and Vishwakarma will continue its work.
Vishwakarma is a sophomore from Ahmedabad, India majoring in computer science with plans to pursue a minor in management information systems. Besides his involvement in SA, he is vice president of Club International as well as a student ambassador in admissions and a summer orientation leader. He works at Einstein Bros. Bagels and interns for the ITS Helpdesk in the computer lab.
For fun, he likes to sing, dance and venture into the nature surrounding Plattsburgh. Vishwakarma said he is “fascinated” by the college’s location and sees it as more conducive to studying rather than a city, “which is a very stressful place to live.”