Meet the Candidates from BecomingTU, The All-Women Temple Student Government Campaign Team

It’s officially the second week of the Temple Student Government Executive campaign season. We caught up with Francesca Capozzi, Kaya Jones, and Laryssa Banks, the candidates from the all-women campaign team BecomingTU to talk about their history, their leadership, and their vision for the university, should they win next week’s election. 

From left to right: Kaya Jones, Vice President of External Affairs candidate; Francesca Capozzi, Presidential candidate; Laryssa Banks, Vice President of Services candidate. | PHOTO: Saba Ahmed

From left to right: Kaya Jones, Vice President of External Affairs candidate; Francesca Capozzi, Presidential candidate; Laryssa Banks, Vice President of Services candidate. | PHOTO: Saba Ahmed

Disclaimer: Interview has been condensed and edited for style and length.

Why did each of you want to run?

Jones: My father always instilled in me to give back to the community in which you’re surrounded, and I carried those same values with me when I came to Temple. From the beginning of my career at Temple, I’ve been a part of Parliament and now the current student government [administration]. I just felt like it was right for me to finally take a leadership position.

Banks: I know how important student affairs can be in student success. When I worked as an Owl Team Leader, I really got to see the influence I had, and I want to continue that influence working in TSG. I also think that it's good to have an outside and fresh perspective. Oftentimes people who have previously worked on TSG continue to work on TSG and will sometimes lack that student perspective or have a very set view.

Capozzi: From the moment I stepped on Temple’s campus, I fell in love with it. And I knew the best way to give back to a school that has given me so much is through leadership. I became an Owl Team Leader and through that position I was able to connect with so many different types of students, Temple administrators, and community members. That’s what pushed me to first apply to be the Director of University Pride and Traditions on the current administration. From holding this position, I’ve seen how much of an impact Temple Student Government can have, not only on the university, but on the community as well.

What does BecomingTU mean to you?

Capozzi: When we created our platform and looked back and asked, what’s one word that encompasses everything? We came up with “becoming” because it encompasses the entire idea of wanting to make Temple the best version it can be, through our initiatives, through our pillars, “be celebrated, be inclusive, be transformed,” Temple can become the best version of itself.

Jones: We’re making long-term initiatives that will result in Temple becoming the best it can be to serve the student body, and the community––that’s involving alumni, graduates, international students, any of the minority groups.

Banks: BecomingTU to me is a movement that is bringing the university together from every corner of the university. It is bringing everyone together to make sure that their voices are heard. It's creating transparency between the students, our community, the administration, and alumni. 

What initiatives are each of you most excited about?

Banks: I’m genuinely excited for all of them! A lot of our platform wants to enact positive change on the university, and I am very excited for these to implemented. 

Capozzi: Partnering with alumni. I know alumni partnerships are happening, but we need to make them bigger and better. Alumni are such a huge part of this university; your time at Temple doesn’t just end after your four years, so I want to ensure that students are making those connections with alumni, so once they get out into the workforce they have these connections, they can network. Through that we want to make sure that we have university-wide networking events, not school-specific. It can open people up not only to networking but also to new ideas and career paths.

REFINE: Do you have any plans for the new Owl Network service that was just rolled out?

Capozzi: I think that’d be a great thing to partner with; I think it’s awesome. It’s another way to connect students and alumni, which is essentially our ultimate goal.

Jones: Something I’m so excited for is the initiatives under [the] “Our Community” [section in the platform]. My relationship with the community is strong, and I want every student to feel that way. I want there to be a stronger sense of trust between our neighbors and the people that live across the street from us, so that everyone can come together. We have initiatives for group fitness programs, where we’ll invite our neighbors to come and work out together. One of the initiatives I’m most proud of is the New Student Orientation tours. Currently, Temple outsources to a Mural Arts tour company, and we would really like to give that power to the people that know this area best. With doing so, I think that will erase some of the negative misperceptions parents or students have about the North Philadelphia community.

Capozzi: Something else I’m excited for is our initiative under the “Traditions” part of our platform. We want to start a Founder’s Day. It’s essentially a fun day for everyone that is connected to Temple, somewhat like the Fox 100 Festival. We want to bring students, our community, administration, alumni, faculty––everyone together on one day just to celebrate Temple and all that it has to offer.

Some of the members of BecomingTU’s campaign team after the first debate last week. | PHOTO: Madison Leake

Some of the members of BecomingTU’s campaign team after the first debate last week. | PHOTO: Madison Leake

The BecomingTU campaign is made up entirely of women. Was that intentional from the beginning?

Capozzi: We picked the people we thought were best fit for the jobs––most hardworking, most determined, ones that would get the job done.

Jones: And people that were also willing and interested in what we had to say. It wasn’t intentional, but as it started to come about, it was empowering, especially with everything that’s going on with the political climate outside of Temple and seeing and all these women getting into politics and actually representing the nation. I feel like we’re representing a part of this university that lacks representation.

How will you challenge the notion that you’re eliminating an entire gender by being comprised of all women?

Jones: One thing we’d like to note is that this is just our campaign, not our administration. We are fully open to [other genders] being a part of our administration because they’re knowledgeable about these things, and will help them come to fruition just like any woman would.

So besides being an all-women campaign, what do you believe sets you apart from your opponent?

Capozzi: Tangible, concrete initiatives. Everything we put onto our platform, there was thought and planning behind it, , and there was this idea of, can we get this done if we get voted into the next administration? And everything we put on this platform answered that question with a “yes, we can get that done.” We don’t want to promise anything that can’t be done.

Jones: Yeah, feasibility. That’s what our platform is about. From Fran[esca’s] and my past experience, we’re aware that the things that are on this platform are able to be done within the year, and we’re excited to see them done.

What do you think is BecomingTU’s biggest strength? 

Capozzi: Our cohesiveness. Through that, we’ve not only been able to bond as a group, but also get done what we need to. We’re transparent, we make sure everyone is involved with conversations we have.

Jones: We’re all active agents of change. I think that when we put out something into the universe that we would like done, we’re determined to accomplish it. 

Banks: The team's biggest strength is that we all have a common goal, and that's to help the students. We may have our own things that we are passionate about to help the students, but we are ultimately thinking what is best for the students.

And Francesca, how did your experience on this year’s TSG administration prepare and motivate you to run?

Capozzi: As Kaya said before, I think something that helped me prepare was what we know Temple Student Government has the ability to do. Yes, Temple Student Government has a big impact on this campus, but there also are limits. Also the connections I’ve made. I’ve sat in on Board of Trustees meetings, administration meetings, and have made these connections with administrators. So if we are voted in, I already have these relationships to get things done more quickly. 

Our second issue, coming out next month, is all about self care. So what’s your favorite way to practice self-care, especially when you’re super stressed out?

Banks: Staying in with some food and watching Netflix, or hanging out with my friends and getting a good laugh. 

Capozzi: I made a playlist of songs that make me happy and that connect with me. I listen to that playlist so I’m constantly getting those good vibes in my head. And every day, I make sure to take at least an hour for myself, whether that be to watch Netflix, read a book, or call my mom, I make sure to take anything that’s stressing me out, put it away, recalibrate, and keep going.

Jones: I reach out to my support system: my mom, my best friend, or my boyfriend, and I ask them for words of encouragement. Also praying. On a day like today, I sat down this morning and just prayed and let everything out, because that’s when I can be most vulnerable.

Jones, Capozzi, and Banks in the Alter Hall Skywalk. | PHOTO: Saba Ahmed

Jones, Capozzi, and Banks in the Alter Hall Skywalk. | PHOTO: Saba Ahmed

It’s a tight race between BecomingTU and their opponent, RiseTU*. These elections are not something to be complacent about. The student government administrations handle funds for student organizations, create and implement initiatives for the student body, the university, and the surrounding North Philadelphia community. TSG, like any government, is impactful on your life whether you realize it or not. Stay in the loop with BecomingTU’s and RiseTU’s social media, The Temple News’ election coverage, and each campaign’s platform. 

As we are an independent magazine that serves every woman on Temple’s campus, REFINE will not be endorsing an executive campaign for Temple Student Government so as not to exclude any one of the women we serve.

*REFINE contacted RiseTU for an interview.