It isn’t often that three sophomores run for Student Government Association executives, but that didn’t stop Jeremiah de Sesto, Hannah-Rose Basson and Obamide Samaye. They don’t see it as a weakness, but rather as a good reason to elect their ticket, Bridge.
“We are the only three people on a ticket who are going to be here a year after we make changes,” Basson said. “If that isn’t a motivation, I don’t know what is … we’re going to be living through those exact changes that we make.”
The changes that their executive ticket hopes to make include connecting the University of Georgia’s community with Athens-Clarke County’s, getting student voices more involved in SGA and connecting students with campus resources to aid their success.
De Sesto, Bridge’s presidential candidate, described the economic difference between UGA and the Athens community as an issue that needs to be addressed. He lived in Russell Hall his freshman year, and described seeing community housing a stone’s throw away from his high-rise dorm. Russell Hall itself was built on the site of a majority-Black community, Linnentown, which was destroyed by Athens and UGA during urban renewal in the 1960s.
“We want to hold the University of Georgia administration accountable, ourselves accountable for acknowledging the history, the rough past,” de Sesto said. “We want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to serve the city of Athens, to make sure that it’s a home first, before a college town.”
One of Bridge’s goals is to work with UGA’s Enterprise Information Technology Services to expand Wi-Fi to community housing in Athens, said de Sesto, who is majoring in international affairs, management information systems and international business.
Samaye, an economics major and Bridge’s candidate for treasurer, wants to address students’ difficulties accessing resources like financial assistance, which he said he had difficulty accessing in the past.
“There are so many resources that UGA has, but it’s not useful if it’s not easy to access,” Samaye said.
Samaye said the ticket wants to implement an SGA-sponsored financial scholarship. They also want to provide free menstrual hygiene products in UGA bathrooms by partnering with the Period Project at UGA and the University Health Center.
Basson, a biology major, has not been involved in SGA in the past, and said she brings an important perspective to the ticket as vice president. She said most students don’t know much about SGA and don’t know how to get involved, so if elected, the ticket plans to hold town hall meetings to allow students to directly communicate their issues on campus with the SGA.
Basson has worked as a tour guide for the UGA Visitors Center, which she said taught her about serving students. She’s also served as a small group leader at the Campus Ministry Association.
Samaye said Bridge also wants to promote diversity on campus, for staff and faculty as well as the student body. He said the ticket wants the university to implement a “diversity process” when hiring and tenuring faculty.
Basson, who is originally from South Africa, also said the ticket wants to deal with issues that international students face. She said Bridge wants to implement longer international student orientations, as well as create a bilingual peer mentoring program for students who do not speak English as a first language.
De Sesto said that overall, Bridge wants to make students feel included and like they can have their voices heard. He said when Bridge wrote its platform, it had a focus group of about 40 students to determine what students want to change about campus.
“The Student Government Association is the voice of every Bulldog, but at the end of the day we care about the Bulldogs who don’t have a platform on campus,” de Sesto said.