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The Student News Site of Principia College

The Pilot

Student body presidential candidates discuss Title IX, employment, drugs and alcohol on campus

Christopher Ajuoga
Damir Conci, Neha Bandrapalli, and Brad Mulwenge are running for student body president.

The race for student body president and vice president switched into high gear during a forum on Wednesday, March 27, addressing candidates’ stances on issues such as Title IX, student employment, and community standards, among visions and goals.

This is the first student body election since at least 2018 with more than two sets of candidates on the ballot. Presidential candidates include junior Neha Bandrapalli, junior Damir Conci, and sophomore Brad Mulwenge.   Polls opened on Thursday, March 28 at 8 a.m. and are expected to close at 5 p.m. on March 28, according to a Watercooler sent by Hannah Wymer, the student body vice president. The winning candidates will be announced on Friday, March 29.

Bandrapalli, whose running mate is junior Charley Hoffman, emphasized a “comprehensive approach” to enhance student engagement and build campus culture by promising to bridge gaps between the student body and the faculty. Bandrapalli said she would focus on creating a more inclusive and supportive campus environment where every student’s voice can be heard. Badrapalli said another vision she has is for efficiency in student government. She said she and Hoffman want to ensure students are put in a position to succeed both during college and after graduation. 

Mulwenge, who is running with junior Grace Ripley, said he believes “in a vision but not a plan.” Mulwenge said that his manifesto is designed to lay the groundwork for future college leaders and make the system more efficient. Mulwenge and Ripley’s campaign slogan is “Beyond Hello.” According to Mulwenge, the slogan aims to nurture a community that takes the extra step to understand each other’s perspectives and build a stronger campus. 

Conci is running with sophomore Ethan Booth. Conci said his tenure will be focused on bridging the gap between the student body and the administration. Running with the campaign slogan “Forward Motion,” Conci said he hopes to be a student president who listens to the needs of both the student body and the administration.

Time until the polls close.
According to the student government. Polls opened at 8 a.m. on Thursday 28, 2024 and are expected to close at 5 p.m. on the same day

Title IX concerns 

Sophomore Sbewu Fipaza asked the candidates about their opinions if a student is wrongly accused of Title IX offenses. 

Mulwenge said violating Title IX policy is a serious offense, and when people are wrongly implicated, there should be consequences just as there are for those found in violation.  

Bandrapalli said the Title IX process is a complex situation that requires grace, empathy, and accountability. She said the process is a safeguard for people who are sexually assaulted.  “As a student body, we can absolutely work on making that process…more specific and putting more energy into educating investigators,” she said. 

Conci said one of the biggest problems the campus has is gossip. He said protocol must be followed and the system is made to make sure mistakes are not made. “At the end of the day, it’s about doing the right thing,” he said. 

Jobs on campus

Current student body president Donbosco Ngeso asked the candidates their thoughts on the current state of student employment.

Conci said he has been connecting with resident counselors to talk about the issue. He also said he tried to connect with College President Daniel Norton. “I went six times to his office but he was not there,” he said. Conci said he learned that Principia has been having some budget cuts and changes in leadership that have not fully settled. He said that he and Booth and the Career Office have been brainstorming ideas to explore off-campus job opportunities for domestic students and promote internships. 

Bandrapalli said she and Hoffman said a key issue they have identified is what they perceive as a lack of representation among student workers. “Their voices aren’t heard and oftentimes they feel like there’s not transparent communication from administration,” she said.

Bandrapalli and Hoffman said they would like to create a job center. Bandrapalli said this could be a centralized place where people can go for information about jobs. There is currently a career center on campus, where students go to find information about internships and summer and post-college jobs. 

Mulwenge said he was one of the first people to bring the issue to senate members. 

He proposed allocating a set number of work hours for all students. If students choose not to work, those hours could be given to someone else. Mulwenge said that this could help reduce uncertainty over jobs on campus. 

On drugs and alcohol on campus 

Ngeso said that there has been a perennial problem with drug and substance abuse on campus. He said he knows students who have been suspended due to violating the community standards. He also said there are reports of housekeepers finding hard liquor bottles in trash cans across campus. Ngeso asked the candidates what can be done to rectify this situation. 

“The first thing on my manifesto is community,” Mulwenge said. He said that the topic of drinking on campus is not talked about enough.  He said that students should hold each other accountable, and for students over 21 who wish to drink off campus, practicing safe consumption will be paramount. He urged students to have designated drivers to ensure their safety. “Change starts with us and your friends,” he said. 

Bandrapalli agreed with Mulwenge that there needs to be more conversations about drinking on campus. “There is a stigma around drinking and doing drugs, obviously. The rules are very clear, and we need to advocate for them, but also we need to provide education on why those things shouldn’t be done,” she said. Bandrapalli added that Principia cannot address this issue unless all community members take accountability to help their neighbors. 

Conci said that when admitted to Principia College, students signed a contract that explicitly says what is allowed and what is not allowed on campus. “So it’s sometimes somebody is doing something wrong, there are consequences,” he said. Conci added that it takes all members to build a community they want to see. He said it takes all shareholders to promote a positive campus culture. 

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About the Contributor
Christopher Ajuoga
Christopher Ajuoga, Editor-in-Chief
Chris joined The Pilot in 2022 and has since worked as a staff writer, photographer, feature editor, and now editor-in-chief. He not only focuses on campus news but also culture and lifestyle. Chris is expected to graduate from Principia in May 2024.
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