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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Meet the three TCU Senate presidential candidates

Ahead of Thursday’s election, the Daily spoke with Krystal Mutebi, Joel Omolade and Mikayla Paquette about their platforms, goals and past projects.

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Pictured left to right are Krystal Mutebi, Joel Omolade and Mikayla Paquette.

Three senators are vying to be the 2024–25 president of the Tufts Community Union Senate: Krystal Mutebi, Joel Omolade and Mikayla Paquette. Ballots will remain open from Thursday to Saturday. In interviews with the Daily, each candidate highlighted the need for the Senate to serve as the voice for underrepresented groups on campus.

“Our executive board was predominantly POC. Our entire Senate was predominantly POC,” Omolade said. “All three candidates who are running for office right now are Black.”

Mutebi, a junior majoring in community health and minoring in biotechnology, is the current TCU vice president and was recently reelected to her fourth year as the women’s community senator. Mutebi shared her motivations for joining student government.

“I didn’t have an advocate for myself in high school,” Mutebi said. “I went to not only a white [high school], but I [was in] a group of Black students who felt like they weren’t represented. … So I started doing something about it, and advocating for not only myself but people I cared about. … I got to college, and I’m like, ‘I want to keep doing this.’”

On the Senate, Mutebi has worked with TCU President Arielle Galinsky to provide free menstrual products on campus and with former TCU President Jaden Pena to create the Empower Hour, which provides a space for female-identifying and nonbinary students to build confidence in the gym.

Mutebi’s platform centers on mental wellness and advocating for the unmet needs of marginalized students, according to her campaign statement. Also the president of the Ladies of Essence a capella group, Mutebi has advocated “for student participation in an art group to count as an art credit.”

If elected, she hopes to work with the Office of Campus Life and identity centers to increase access to mental health resources.

Omolade is a junior double majoring in community health and political science. He is the current TCU diversity officer and was recently reelected as a Class of 2025 senator.

I currently serve as the president of the RA union,” Omolade said. “I remember wishing Senate had a more active face when it comes to strikes and unionizing on this campus and being the forefront of that, rather than being reactionary.”

Omolade has served in the Senate for two years, having joined at the start of his sophomore year. In the Senate, he works on the Intercultural Council and created the Committee on Communities, Diversity and Inclusion to highlight cultural organizations.

“I currently serve as the co-chair of the [CCDI] with [Class of 2025 Senator] Tolulope Adewumi, and we have met with a lot of administrators about changing the food on this campus, making sure it’s better [and] more culturally sensitive,” Omolade said.

If elected, Omolade would create a Survivor’s Bill of Rights outlining the rights guaranteed to survivors of sexual assault by administration and campus organizations as well as a Student Advocacy Committee of student advocacy organization leaders to focus on dialogue concerning campus and world issues. He is campaigning on a platform of holding the university accountable to its promises of equity, per his candidate statement.

Paquette was recently reelected for a third year as a Class of 2025 senator. A junior majoring in civic studies, Paquette is also a member of the women’s varsity basketball team.

“I have a different mindset when it comes to student leadership,” Paquette said. “I’ve been part of a team my whole life. … If we can have a team mindset with our student body, that is how we are able to endure, and empower and change.”

In the Senate, she is working on projects such as one with the vice provost of education to increase students’ civic engagement and SUMMIT, a town hall for female-identifying student athletes of all skill levels.

In a statement announcing her candidacy, she proposed improving academic equity and transparency via more frequent Canvas grade updates and reducing additional course material costs.

“We just hit $92,000 to attend this school,” Paquette said. “There is no reason why anybody should be spending $100 for a textbook. There is no reason that somebody should not be able to take a class or have to change their major because their major is too expensive.”

If elected, Paquette would create a Fall Celebration & Orientation for each class as they arrive back on campus in the fall to build community.

Each candidate shared what they saw as the most important issue facing the student body.

“Inaccessibility is a huge problem, not just [to] resources when it comes to funding, but also just to support for mental health,” Mutebi said. “There are students who are hurting in so many different ways, and they don’t have access to resources to help them in the classroom or outside of the classroom.”

“When there are opportunities for students to speak up and vocalize their concerns, our responses are sometimes shut down. I think we saw recently with the resolutions that got passed through Senate,” Omolade said. He spoke about being left confused and in disbelief when the administration nullified all passed resolutions within hours of the Senate decision.

“I think the biggest problem right now that we’re facing is that we don’t listen to each other,” Paquette said. “We don’t understand each other. We have this hotbed of potential — we have people from all over the world all in one place all trying to get an education, all growing. We aren’t working as a well-oiled machine.”

A debate between the three candidates will be held on Wednesday from 8–9 p.m. in Joyce Cummings Center Room 270.

The Tufts Community Union Elections Commission announced on Monday afternoon that the election previously scheduled for Wednesday has been moved, and voting will now be open from noon on Thursday to noon on Saturday.

Matthew Sage and Rachel Liu contributed reporting.