Junior Zachary Dove and sophomore Gabriel Alejandro Ibanez went head-to-head at a debate for Vice President of Academic Affairs, a position tasked with increasing student awareness and involvement about academic affairs of the university, as stated on the Associated Students Board of Directors website.
Dove, a political science major, explained that his priorities deal with many issues, but most importantly expanding academic advising and counseling services.
Ibanez, a management information systems major, said he wants to have transparency with the student body and hold multiple caucuses for students to speak up.
“I want to center around student voices and student representation,” Ibanez said.
Dove said there is a lack of academic advising on Western’s campus. It is a serious problem that students have to stay an extra year because they do not have access to advising, he said.
Dove said he hopes with constant pressure on the administration, more funding will be put into academic advising. Western currently has one academic advisor to every 750 students, Dove said.
Ibanez agreed, putting pressure on the administration to fund more advising opportunities for students. The Academic Advising Center is clearly overwhelmed, he said.
“[The Academic Advising Center] has to have a drop-in hour because they get booked up to a month in advance when it comes to certain time periods,” Ibanez said.
Dove said student stresses are high because of tuition, cost of living and the debt they obtain throughout their educational career.
“Advising services are absolutely necessary for a student’s success,” Dove said. “But so are counseling services.”
Counseling services also have a need for funding, and Dove said some students have been turned away due to an overwhelming amount of appointments.
Ibanez said he understands Western has a diverse community on campus. He wants to focus on students’ voices and make sure they are all heard.
“As a Latino male, I have dealt with multiple marginalized identities,” Ibanez said. “Unfortunately I will not know the same struggle that they face.”
Dove, on the other hand, said he understands he cannot speak for a lot of the identities on Western’s campus since he is a white male.
“I will have to reach out to a lot of groups and students who are marginalized in the decision-making process and who quite frankly don’t have their voices heard as much as they should,” Dove said.