Presidential Candidates Interview: Gabe Denley and Celine Najm

By Peter Elijah Lim
Staff Writer

1. Your campaign slogan is “Make Beauty Visible.” How do you plan to embody this slogan and how did you create it?

Denley & Najm: We wanted our slogan to communicate that there is beauty at Franciscan, it’s just not always visible. We plan to embody this through our five goals (which are developed in further detail on our Instagram, @denleynajm2023): beautifying campus, fostering authentic community, highlighting student talent, promoting academic culture and supporting student needs.

2. What’s your experience working with Student Government and the Franciscan community?
Denley: I am a philosophy and theology double major and I’m involved in the Veritas Society with many individuals who are part of Student Government.

Najm: I have had experience in campaign management at Franciscan. My involvement on campus includes working for residence life and participating in music ministry, the Center for Leadership, the Byzantine Club and the Chamber Orchestra.

3. What are your main campus goals? What steps will be taken to achieve these goals?

Denley & Najm: Our main goals are to beautify campus, foster authentic community, highlight student talent, promote academic culture, and support student needs. We plan to beautify campus by adding art to classrooms and common places around campus like the J.C., Antonian Hall, etc., by adding more benches and tables to campus, by instituting a household adopt-a-bench program where households can choose and decorate a bench and by cleaning up the Marian Grotto. Our next goal, fostering authentic community, will be achieved through supporting households and clubs and providing a community for international students and students of various cultures through culture nights. Our third goal is to highlight student talent through Schola Holy Hours, expanded open mic opportunities, an athletics bulletin and a collaboration with the Arts and Culture series. Promoting an academic culture, our fourth goal, will be achieved by maximizing opportunities for professors and students to interact outside the traditional classroom. This can be achieved through Pints with Professors nights, increased outdoor classroom space and symphony and museum trips with professors. Finally, we plan to support student needs by publicizing Student Government office hours and providing an open form for students to connect with us through a Student Government bulletin.

4. Are there any campus rules or regulations that you feel need to be changed and how? (visitation hours, restrictions of academic or gym hours, etc.)

Denley & Najm: We seek to advocate for the cancellation of classes or heavily reduced classes on Holy Thursday and Easter Monday. This would accommodate for the Catholic call to deeper prayerfulness, silence and fasting on these days.

5. What kinds of events do you have planned for the Franciscan community?

Denley & Najm: We hope to host culture nights where the cultures on campus are represented. This allows international students and students of different cultures and communities to be represented and it allows the general student population to be exposed to the beauty of other cultures.

6. What makes your campaign different from other campaigns?

Denley & Najm: Our campaign is different from other campaigns firstly because we have a foundational principle guiding our actions: beauty. Everything that we seek to do relates to promoting beauty on campus. Further, this foundational principle does not reduce our campaign to a particular group on campus. Focusing on beauty allows us to recognize all parts of campus and pursue growth in every area. Second, our campaign initiatives zoom in on the everyday life of the students. We do not seek to provide temporary goods. We seek to provide lasting, even permanent goods for the student body. Whether it be art in classrooms, increased outdoor seating, or cleaning the Marian Grotto, our efforts would affect the daily lives of Franciscan students.

7. How do you hope to create a lasting impact if you are elected as president and vice president?

Denley & Najm: Our campaign initiatives are intended to make visible changes to the everyday life of students. Whether it be going to the Port, class, or the J.C., the experience of a Franciscan University student as well as Franciscan’s culture at large will be changed by our efforts. We do not seek to provide students with temporary pleasures, but rich, lasting and even permanent goods.