Voting begins in USG elections

Wednesday marked the beginning of voting for Undergraduate Student Government elections, after a week of campaigning from candidates.

Presidential candidates Louis Sand and Ryan Smith and vice presidential candidates Chad Berg and Emily Punyko each has his or her own ideas about what’s best for St. Thomas.

Smith said that if he is elected, he will focus on three specific issues: meal plan reform, financial transparency and flexibility regarding core requirements.

“The current meal plan system … freshmen who come in have no idea how many meals they’re gonna eat,” Smith said. “If you buy the meals, I think you should be able to use them when you want. I think you should be able to double-swipe. I feel like that they should be able to roll over semester to semester.”

Smith said he would also encourage the university to create a website that would show where tuition goes and to allow students to choose to replace the mandatory ethics class with a major requirement.

“I just want to advocate for what the students want while still maintaining our liberal arts education status,” Smith said.

“I have realistic plans to increase USG’s influence and expand what we are able to do,” Sand said. “I want to focus on building up USG through achievable goals and steps, before I take on larger initiatives.”

Sand, who is campaigning with Berg, said that if he is elected, he will try to keep study rooms open in the Anderson Student Center and work with Dining Services to increase allergy-friendly food options. He also said he would continue USG’s close relationship with the St. Thomas administration.

“I want to focus on building up USG through achievable goals and steps, before I take on larger initiatives,” Sand said.

Berg said he shares Sand’s vision, which includes improving USG.

“One issue I’ve heard is that USG is not well-trained in event planning which eventually takes away from their ability to accomplish their other goals,” Berg said. “I’ve been planning campus’ largest events for two years with STAR. I believe I could eradicate USG of that issue.”

Emily Punyko said that if she is elected, she will focus on improving student involvement.

“It’s all about communication,” Punyko said. “It goes back to when I was a freshman, and how I’m sure a lot of people came in not knowing what was going on.”

Punyko said she believes that whoever is elected will be a good leader.

“We all want a better St. Thomas in very similar ways,” Punyko said. “I think honestly we would all work very well together.”

Grace Pastoor can be reached at