Update on the French Presidential Election

On Nov. 27, former Prime Minister of France François Fillon, won the nomination for the French Republican party. Fillon was able to carry 69.6 percent of the vote versus the 31.4 percent won by his opponent, former Prime Minister of France Alain Juppe. The Republican victory marked the end of France’s first-ever conservative presidential primary. Alain Juppe was forced to concede.

Prior to Nov. 27, both Fillon and Juppe eliminated France’s former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, in the race for the nomination. Sarkozy carried 21.1 percent of the vote against Fillon’s 44 and Juppe’s 28.1 percent. After the election results in the first primary were publicized, Sarkozy chose to concede, dropping out of the race on November. 20. Sarkozy then prompted his supporters to vote for Fillon. Both Fillon and Juppe served as Prime Ministers under the Sarkozy Administration.

Fillon is running on a campaign that promises to “slash public spending, cap immigration, support traditional family values and reach out to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” as reported by the Associated Press.

Currently Fillon is set to be running against Marine Le Pen, presiding leader of the conservative National Front. Le Pen is running a campaign against globalism, uncontrolled mass immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, the French political elite and the European Union.

In an interview with CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Le Pen stated, “I think that the elites have lived too long among themselves. We are in a world where globalization, which is an ideology, has forgotten, and put aside the people, the people’s interests, aspirations, and dreams.”

If elected, Le Pen plans to hold a referendum to enable the possibility of a French exit from the European Union.

Although the current French president, François Hollande, has not made an official announcement for re-election, he has repeatedly been reported saying that he will seek re-election only if he is able to reduce the unemployment rate that has remained around 10 percent over the past few years.

So far, Hollande is perceived as the most unpopular president in French history, as revealed by an Elabe opinion poll in May 2016 indicating a 7 percent approval rating.

The Socialist Party primary is expected to take place this coming January. Hollande has until then to place his name on his party’s ticket. If Hollande chooses to run, his opponents could include the current Prime Minister Manuel Valls, as well as ex-Premiers Arnaud Montebourg and Benoît Hamon.

Another candidate for the French presidency is Emmanuel Macron. Previously Macron served as a former Economy Minister to current president Francois Hollande. According to Time Magazine, “The former investment banker for Rothschild Ltd. is expected to run as the head of ‘En Marche!’ (roughly meaning On the Move!), a centrist political party he created in April as a direct challenge to the Socialist Party’s Hollande.”

There are also additional independent candidates that are set to run for the presidency, such as the extreme leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon, Greens nominee Yannick Jadot and other independent candidates.

The first round of elections will occur on April 23. If there is no clear winner to the first round of elections, a second election will occur on May 7.


SGA Victors: Weiss/Benjes, Smith, Harvey

Marlena Weiss and Ken Benjes. (Photo by Jackson Webb)
Marlena Weiss and Ken Benjes. (Photo by Jackson Webb)
On Monday, Apr. 19, the results of the Student Government Association (SGA) executive board elections were announced. The 2010-2011 SGA president and vice-president will be juniors Marlena Weiss and Ken Benjes, the treasurer will be junior Matt Smith, and the director of campus programming will be junior Jessica Harvey.

“I was extremely excited when I saw the email from Louis [Ritzinger, SGA Parliamentarian],” said Weiss. “The first thing I did was call my mom, since she had been contacting me throughout the weekend… And then I texted Ken.”

“I was talking to a friend outside Schaefer before class and noticed that I was suddenly getting a lot of texts, which turned out to be congratulations texts,” Benjes said about his finding out about the election results.

Weiss said that initially, she was “somewhat intimidated by the process” because unlike this year, the past couple of SGA presidential tickets have run uncontested. However, Weiss said, “I think that winning a contested election will make us better at our jobs since we have more of a promise to fulfill.

“I am extremely honored and excited that our campus chose us for these important positions,” she said. “My goal for the 2010-2011 year is to follow up on all the ideas I put forth in my platform and always be on the lookout for ways to make St. Mary’s even better than it already is. I plan on staying on campus this summer and will be devoting a large amount of time to SGA and preparing for the upcoming year. I wholeheartedly look forward to working with Ken to lead the campus.”

“As I said in my platform, I plan to fight terrorism on campus,” Benjes added.

Current SGA president senior Justin Perry said that he thought that Weiss and Benjes would do an “amazing job.”

Of Weiss, Perry said that it “sounds like she’s going to continue to place an emphasis on sustainability” and added that her “progressive policies on sexual health,” such as the gender-neutral housing proposal which she spearheaded would have a broad impact on the campus.

“She’s been very involved in the past,” he said.

Perry said that he felt that Benjes would be “incredibly strong” at building openness between between the SGA executive board and the senate. “It feels very divided sometimes,” he said.

Perry also commented on Matt Smith’s election to the office of treasurer. He said that “Matt has been a very vocal leader in the senate for responsible spending,” noting Smith’s role as a “senate leader” this year.

“And he’s awesome,” Perry added.

Junior Colleen O’Neil, the head of the presidential ticket that ran against Benjes and Weiss, said that although she did not win the election, she would still remain active in campus life.

“Of course I am discouraged that my running mate, Hillary [Powell], and I did not win the election but I do think that Marlena and Ken are fully capable of leading our school,” said O’Neil. “I wish them nothing but the best and am excited to see where else in the school I can be involved and invoke change. I love St. Mary’s and its student body and was excited about being SGA president for the sole purpose of giving back and making a lasting change at SMCM.

“I will still be involved and fulfill this purpose in some other manner,” she added.

SGA Director of Campus Programming Candidates

Jessica Harvey

Hello, my name is Jessica Harvey and I am currently a junior pursuing a double major in Psychology and Human Studies. I have been actively involved on campus since my first semester at SMCM. Currently, I am The Nest Chair for Programs Board, a Student Ambassador, a First Responders Advocate, and Academic Services Fellow. I have been involved in programming and leadership ever since my freshman year in high school. By serving as a current chair on Programs Board, I have developed the skills needed to plan and run programs efficiently, work with a budget, and to reach out and collect students’ input and ideas. Over Spring Break, I spent several days at a NACA conference previewing comedians, bands, poets, solo-artists and lectures to potentially bring to SMCM next fall semester for your upmost pleasure and entertainment. If elected as your Director of Campus Programming, I plan to give everyone the best welcome back week they have ever had at SMCM, as well as work with the Programs Board chair members to issue an astonishing comedy, film, lecture, and concert series. My number one goal once obtaining this position is to reach out and acquire all of your individual programming ideas and input so that I can design the activities and events that you all would like to see or participate in the most. As Director of Campus Programming I will serve as a dependable liaison between Programs Board, SGA and the student body to insure that everyone is kept up-to-date on all upcoming programs and events. Because of my previous leadership and programming experience, dependability, and persistence, I believe that I am the right candidate to be elected as Director of Campus Programming. So let your voice be heard and vote me, Jessica Harvey, to serve as your 2010-2011 SGA Director of Campus Programming.

Bryan Miller

The Director of Campus Programming should organize and provide events that entertain and engage the student body. Programs that are interesting, exciting, informative, or simply fun are important to any campus. Such activities can broaden horizons, increase social circles, raise awareness, and create unity amongst the student body.

I try to create experiences within and beyond my own social group by planning and organizing events. Trips to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium, Pride Parades and Festivals in Washington D.C., Baltimore, and New York City, the National Zoo in Washington D.C., and ArtScape in Baltimore are some of the events I have organized. Additionally, I have planned smaller events such as days for tie-dying, card-making seminars near Valentine’s Day, and baking competitions. My affinity for organizing group events was recognized by Marlena Weiss, a member of the current Programs Board. Her recommendation is the reason why I decided to look into Programs Board and begin to get involved with campus programming.

During my time at St. Mary’s I have been an active member in F.U.S.E., S.T.A.R.S, S.E.A.C., The Hawk Radio, St. Mary’s Dance Club, the Rock Climbing Club, and the Cross Country Club as well as an employee of the Daily Grind. As a result I have an extremely diverse social group that is constantly expanding and exposing me to new interests and experiences that, if elected Director of Campus Programming, would allow me to provide events essential to the unique campus of St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

SGA’s Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates


President: Colleen O’nEil
Vice President: HiLLary Powell

The ability to lead one’s school is not found within the Student Government Association Constitution; rather it is found in the candidate’s ability to read the student body and evoke change. Although Hillary and I have little experience on the procedures of the SGA we have a myriad of experience with leading others and effectively communicating to our peers. To be effective as President and Vice-President we should be able to gage the desires of our fellow students and act upon them. Hillary and I are involved in many diverse clubs and activities on campus; therefore, allowing us to be aware of what our student body is experiencing. Not only this but we are comfortable approaching those we do not know and ensuring that we are serving them as well. The President and Vice-President are liaisons between the student body and the administrators, and Hillary and I both are capable of communicating the needs of our students to the administration and following through. Our combined leadership experience has equipped us both with effective communication, delegation and organization skills. We want to be the voice for our fellow students and create the change that we know they desire.

Hillary and I both feel that being on the front lines of the SGA would be an excellent way to serve and give back to the community we love so much. Over the past three years, the St. Mary’s College community has allowed us to grow both personally and professionally, and we believe that serving as the President and Vice-President of the SGA would be a great way to ensure that other students continue to have the wonderful experiences we have had during our college careers. To represent the entire student body will be a challenge, but it is a challenge we are looking forward to. We both feel that the best things in life are those that are earned through hard work, dedication, and passion, and we are prepared to work to live up to the expectation set before us from the student body, as well as those we have set for ourselves.


President: Marlena Weiss

In December of 2008, I saw an all campus email requesting a new secretary for the Student Government Association. Having prior experience as a secretary in high school and wishing to get more involved with the SMCM community, I applied. A month later I was selected for the position. Without any understanding of parliamentary procedure or what exactly SGA was or how it worked, I accepted.

I spent that semester learning as fast as I could. Since then, I have gained an immense amount of respect for the role SGA plays here at St. Mary’s. I believe that I would do an excellent job of upholding this tradition as the next President of the SGA.

Ken Benjes, my running mate, holds two years of senate experience while I hold a year and a half of executive board experience. Combined, we have an extensive knowledge of how the SGA works. My primary interest as President is to let students know that the SGA is here exclusively to hear and act on their ideas. I want them to be aware of their elected officials and consult them frequently.

Some of the issues I would personally like to tackle next year include implementing a gender-neutral housing policy, opening the River Center as a year-round study space for students and creating an open space for discussing issues such as sexual assault, student violence, mental health, etc. I would also like to expand the library’s film collection, get students involved with programming events, introduce new, efficient technologies and, of course, continue the SGA’s current policies of supporting campus sustainability and spending our budget on what will benefit the student body in the best possible way.

I look forward to further supporting the St. Mary’s community through the SGA and I am confident in my ability to lead this important organization.

Vice President: Ken Benjes

Hi, My name is Ken Benjes. I’ve been a member of the SGA for two years now, working with the Buildings and Grounds committee, Publicity committee, and chairing the Food Services committee. Through these committees I have helped organize Campus safety assessments, Midnight Breakfast, and foam hand distribution during sporting events. During my time as a Senator I have sent out weekly updates to my constituents, and have live blogged the meetings to give the St. Mary’s community a sense of what goes on during SGA meetings. I feel that my goal as Vice President of the SGA would be to continue to bridge the gap between the SGA and the student body as a whole. Marlena and myself have spent a lot of time discussing our goals for SGA and have formed close relationships with the past two administrations, and would continue in their tradition of excellence. One of the key parts of being a Vice President is using a gavel to keep order and keep everyone on track, and I believe that I have a lot of experience with using hammers to hit things such as nails, stakes, and rocks. And as always, I will be running on a platform of keeping St. Mary’s free from terrorism. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

SGA’s Treasurer Candidate

Matt Smith

I have been in the Senate for the last two years, accumulating an expansive working knowledge of the budget. As a result, I have definitive plans for how to responsibly manage the SGA’s budget. Firstly, I promise to keep clubs as well funded as possible. Clubs are one of the most valuable resources in the maintenance of our unique campus culture and I will do my best to help fund them. I also know that clubs spend only a portion of the money we give them and a return sum of at least 20% is likely. Therefore, I do not promise a balanced budge but rather a reasonable budget, devoid of gratuitous spending but expansive enough to meet club needs.

Another significant portion of SGA spending comes from Talon Grants, which are essentially a large grant devoted to a student project. Talon Grants are an effective way to help great ideas from the student body come to life and benefit everyone on campus. At the same time many Talon Grants, though noble in purpose, do not provide a benefited to a large enough portion of the student body to warrant the high price tag. Therefore, I pledge to review Talon Grants with a scrupulous eye preventing the excessive spending they have caused in past years.

Lastly, I pledge to continue to hold regular office hours, as I already do in my role as Senate Leader. In this time I will work on maintaining order and continuity in the complicated SGA budget. Furthermore, I will always be available to students, whether they are club leaders, students interested in becoming involved in the SGA or simply those who wish to have questions answered or complaints heard.

SGA Elections: Few Candidates to Choose From

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, students will access their online Blackboard polls to vote for respective SGA candidates. Yet, some students will find certain races void of any candidates.

With 17 races total, eight of the 12 Senate races and three of the five Class of 2013 races do not have any candidates running. SGA Parliamentarian Louis Ritzinger, Class of 2010, attributes the lack of participation to “a non-confrontational campus and the fear of the time commitment,” and considers it “a huge disappointment.”

According to Ritzinger, this is “a very important year for the SGA.” On the agenda is a complete restructuring of the club system and a dwindling “special carry over fund,” which is nearly empty. Junior Kyle McGrath, candidate for Townhouse Senator, agreed and when asked about the low SGA participation this year, said, “People need to understand there is a difference between your college and high school SGA. The [College] SGA handles hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The lack of competitiveness combined with low student interest and participation has created not only vacancies in SGA positions but also missed legislative opportunities. Last year two student referendums were presented to the student body, passage of which required at least one-third of the student body voting. The first referendum was approved with 561 affirmative votes and 64 nay votes, just over one-third of the student body while the second referendum did not obtain enough votes.

Yet some students are getting more involved. Senior Warren Samuels, candidate for commuter Senator said, “I’ve realized how much of a voice we have as students and how important it is to use that voice.” Samuels went further to say that apathetic students, “whether they are interested or not, should get interested.”

Both McGrath and Samuels had their own ideas to increase participation in SGA. Samuels said, “The only way I could see participation increasing dramatically is putting issues that people actually care about put to the test. SGA should do something drastic to force [students] to respond.” McGrath on the other hand thinks “[SGA] needs to start having really grand events. There are issues that people really want to speak out. We need to hold events like forums or other outside events other than the regular [SGA] meeting [student] speaking time.”

Despite few candidates running, Ritzinger does not “think it’s fair to say this represents a decline in SGA participation” and would “wait until next year” to see if it is a trend. Ritzinger also expects to see a number of write in candidates who get elected and particpate this year, potentially reducing the effect of few declared candidates.