Get To Know Your Candidates

From left to right: Srivani Edupuganti, Anish Padala and Mark Farid speak at the annual SG candidates debate hosted on March 29 by The Mercury. Debate Photos By Viet Khue Vu, Headshots By Vedant Sapra.

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Before you vote, The Mercury put together a breakdown for all the candidates for Student Government. The deadline to vote is Wednesday, April 5, at 5 p.m., and link to voting can be found in your UTD email.

InspireUTD

Srivani Edupuganti

Computer science junior Srivani Edupuganti is running for president under the ticket InspireUTD, with experience in Chi Alpha Iota, an LGBT-affirming, gender-neutral diaternity, and as SG secretary. Edupuganti said her leadership involvement on campus allows her to recognize the importance of uplifting the voices of all to ensure students’ well-being.

“I have a clear understanding of what it means to be president, the limitations of the role, and how to best leverage that position to make Student Government in this campus as a whole stronger,” Edupuganti said. “I think I have realistic expectations, but I also have big goals.”

As an international student, Edupuganti also aims to target barriers to student opportunities. She would like to give international students with F1 visas the chance to access resources such as summer internship courses for free.

“You will notice problems, and you’ll sort of take them for granted,” Edupuganti said. “When I first learned about the fact that UTD charges international students to take the summer internship course, I was like, that’s a really awful policy … Thinking about what I would do as the president made me look at these assumptions and realize that I don’t know whether or not we can change that policy, but that’s something we can at least try and do.”

Edupuganti stresses the importance of listening to students’ issues on campus and providing them with a system that allows goals to be achieved and requests to be heard.

“I think that it is really important that what the people want should be what the people get,” Edupuganti said. “And I think that recognizing change as a long-term goal is important. We are not going to be able to get instant gratification if we want meaningful long-lasting changes.”

Leah Sullivan

Vice presidential candidate Leah Sullivan is a data science freshman running under the InspireUTD ticket with an aim to increase inclusivity, accessibility and mental and physical outreach to students.

“How can you help them? How can you make their experience the best it can be?” Sullivan said. “How do you make people coming into UTD who aren’t entirely willing to go here want to go here as a student representative? What are you doing to make their experience the best it can be?”

As the SG website liaison, a member of SG’s Communications Committee and the academic development director for the Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, Sullivan has a passion for improving student life and campus involvement.

“There’s a reason I’m so involved in the government,” Sullivan said. “It’s because I’m good at what I do, and I really love it, and I think I will be able to carry that into the role of vice president if I get elected.”

Sullivan said she ventures into candidacy with an immense dedication to representing marginalized groups and hearing students’ voices. She wants to show Comets that SG is truly there to help and should be used as a resource for all.

“We all want to hear student voices,” Sullivan said. “Everyone wants to know what students are thinking. We can do things for students. And we want them to come to talk to us about their thoughts.”

Comets United

Anish Padala

Healthcare management junior Anish Padala is running for Student Government president under the Comets United ticket, prioritizing increased communication and cohesion between the student body, SG and administration.

“As elected officials, we should be more available to the student population, and we should be taking in their side of the story so that we’re able to directly help and give them the changes that they desire for the people of the university,” Padala said.

Padala said his experience with SG gives him the means to establish a better standard of student life by bridging the gap.

“As the chair of Residential Affairs and the Campus Housing Advisory Committee, I realized the depth of the lack of communication,” Padala said. “This is just one area of campus life, but I am sure there are other areas where the disconnect is prominent. These issues won’t be solved in one year, but they need a constant and collective effort.”

Padala states that he intends to work tirelessly with the rest of SG to create a better experience for current and future Comets.

“I hope that with my priorities, I can allow [students] to see what Student Government is really doing and that we truly, genuinely care about the students and that we are working for them,” Padala said.

Sara Juneja

Sara Juneja is a neuroscience sophomore running for vice president under the Comets United ticket, aiming to connect students and admin and increase students’ belonging and recognition on campus.

“If I do get elected, I’m hoping I can have a more connected Student Government so that we can actually take everything students are telling their senators they elected and pull that together to make the changes we need to make,” Juneja said.

Juneja’s priorities as vice president include providing menstrual leave to empower women, a program to establish study sessions for neurodivergent students and a forum to allow students to converse with each other about concerns they might have at UTD. She hopes to handle these issues with as much transparency as possible to increase student trust.

“I’m always going to be honest with everybody and communicate every single thing I’m able to get information on … even if it feels like it’s being withheld from them,” Juneja said. “I’m going to do my best to make sure every time they feel like they can at least trust somebody.”

Juneja wants to strive for change and find alternate approaches to ensure students can access critical resources.

“Anish and I both have that goal to make people feel like no matter what kind of people you are, we are taking what you’re saying to administration, and we’ll tell you exactly what everyone has to say about what you’re hoping will happen,” Juneja said.

Independent

Mark Farid

Computer engineering junior Mark Farid is a presidential candidate with the goal of serving students by increasing school spirit and implementing stress-relief spaces and study lounges. 

“As your student body president, I will focus on implementing small consistent changes over time to enrich the campus experience,” Farid said.

As a commuter, Farid said he recognizes that the majority of Comets think UTD lacks a social scene and lacks accommodations for study areas and downtime.

“I started digging down and trying to figure out ‘what do I get from school?’ Because from what I read on Reddit, it seems like a lot of students don’t see the social life here,” Farid said.

Farid’s platform revolves around enhancing student participation in organizations and campus events and, in turn, students’ enthusiasm to be on campus and attend their classes.

“I want the idea of less disconnect between students and organizations, and the other goal is finding a place for commuters who don’t have a place on campus,” Farid said. “And when they’re not just dealing with the hustle around them, you can increase class participation.”


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