Student body president candidates go head to head in debate


Elizabeth Stevens

University of Nebraska at Omaha Student Body President Candidates, Carlo Eby and Nigeena Rahmanzai, and vice presidential candidates, Hameidah Alsafwani and Mark Gibbs, went head to head in the first student body presidential debate in five years.

Eby has served as a student senator for three years. Currently, he is the speaker of the senate, where he is responsible for organizing and running senate meetings. Along with other leadership and student involvement roles, he has served as the director of MavReadership.

As president, Eby said he would expand the food options at the Milo Bale Student Center, keep the library open 24-hours and work with students at PKI to develop a shuttle tracking application.

“Now, in my presidential administration, there’s four pillars that I will hold myself and my administration to: accountability, transparency, feedback and inclusion,” Eby said.

In order to accomplish these pillars, Eby will develop a presidential cabinet. This cabinet will include leaders from various campus groups. The presidential cabinet will increase communication between the students and administration.

“I just want to be here for you as a friend, leader and an advocate,” Eby said.

Rahmanzai is passionate about creating a presidential administration that is inclusive and advocates for all students as well.

“I will work hard to make sure that the needs of all students are met…regardless of if we have different beliefs, regardless of if we are different majors,” Rahmanzai said. “I’m still going to advocate for their success.”

Rahmanzai has been a part of many student organizations, both as a leader and as a member, during her time at UNO. Currently, she serves as a student senator and has been a member of the Student Activities Budget Commission (SABC).

Her time on the budget commission taught her about the dispersion of student fees. Her involvement in SABC will motivate her administration to keep student fees low while still providing resources.

Rahmanzai said she would work hard to maintain a good relationship between student government and campus organizations, so that everyone has a chance for their voice to be heard.

Due to state budget cuts, a potential tuition increase will affect a large number of students on campus. The student body president will have the opportunity to vote on the issue.

During the debate, Eby and Rahmanzi were asked their thoughts on the issue. “UNO has one of the lowest tuition rates in the country,” Rahmanzai said. “When it comes time to vote on tuition, I will be attentive and do more research to see where our money is going and if it can be used more efficiently.”

“No one likes tuition increases, but they are inevitable,” Eby said. “Instead of trying to figure out how to avoid them, we need to figure out how to prepare for them. We have to support students who may fall through the cracks and create a safety net for them.”

Both presidential candidates left the audience with closing statements.

“Under my presidency, you will have a president who’s accountable,” Eby said. “A president
who takes on every day with clear eyes and a full heart, who takes on every day with a fire burning inside him to make this place better than it was yesterday.”

“I’m going to work hard to make sure that I empower each and every one of you, and I’m going to keep fighting for resources for marginalized students,” Rahmanzai said.

Each candidate’s vice president selection was able to debate as well. One of the main roles of the vice president is to oversee the Freshman Leadership Council (FLC), which aims to get campus freshman involved in student government.

Currently, Alsfwani, who is partnered with Eby, serves as a student senator and the first female president of the Saudi Student Association. She said she would improve the FLC by gleaning input from previous members and increase enrollment and participation by recruiting during student orientations.

Gibbs, who is partnered with Rahmanzai is the current president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and a tour guide for the ambassador program. Gibbs said that his leadership experience and student involvement has prepared him to serve as Vice President. He plans to target new members through MavWeekly, Durago Days and via email.

Students can vote for student body president on March 7 through MavSync or a campus polling station.