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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Q&A with the 2015 AS candidates

With election week at hand, The Western Front asked each candidate two questions about their thoughts running for office.

Belina Seare: President

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A: Next year I plan to advocate for the students on this campus who are disengaged from the Associated Students, and most importantly work on understanding the different obstacles that many students of color continue to face on this campus. I plan to create a plan on how the Board of Directors, comprised of the president and the six vice presidents, can effectively communicate with the larger student population. Students deserve to understand how decisions are made on this campus, and I hope we can make the BoD the vehicle for communicating that information to students.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

A: Recently, I had the opportunity to respond to a similar question, but specifically focused on what issues were affecting students. I responded by raising these three questions that I hope will inspire more dialogue about what issues need urgent attention: First, how have students who hold marginalized identities been silenced on this campus? Second, what power do students actually have — is there truly student autonomy? Third, where are the limitations of transparency within the Associated Students and spaces of Western’s administration? I’m using this as a base to understand what this position needs to focus on. Moreover, I will work on ensuring students are present in this conversation and that I am collaborating with them on building solutions.

Jesse Doran: VP for Governmental  Affairs

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A: College affordability. That’s what I’m focusing on most. The three things I want to focus on are reduced tuition, cancelling student debt and living wage jobs for all students and graduates. These sound like these might be outside the job description, but actually its exactly what the VP for Governmental Affairs does: Represent students interests in government. I see the lack of student involvement on campus as a failure of the AS to connect with students on issues that matter to them. We don’t have radically enough demands. That’s what I am putting forward.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

A: I come from outside the AS, so I think connecting to the larger student body is my strong suit. I’m good at organizing and building student movements. I’m part of Socialist Alternative and I’m the co-founder of ASRT, Autonomous Students United to Reduce Tuition, which is a mass movement I started here on campus. And so my strong suit is in organizing mass amounts of people towards a specific political goal and involving the larger student body politically.

Patrick Eckroth: VP for Governmental  Affairs

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A: Really I want to look at a lot of structural and policy changes that would make the AS a lot more accessible and inclusive in the way that we represent students. Right now, there are a lot of barriers that exist, whether that’s individuals or clubs trying to organize or represent themselves. The AS has a lot of limitations, like there are specific ways you can reserve spaces including Red Square, which is our free speech zone so there shouldn’t really be a need to reserve that. Beyond that there are just a lot of problems with the way we do things on campus. The AS is a part of that. Mostly making sure that students have the access, confidence, empowerment and autonomy to be able to represent themselves. And so I want to help provide that access and the resources.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

A: Currently I serve as the AS Representation and Engagements Program Director, which actually does all of the work of the VP for governmental affairs, so I have a lot of organizing experience, and voter registration experience. I ran the voter registration drive for last year, which was the largest in the state, so that’s going to be a big part of the position making sure that’s continued. I’ve helped plan Viking lobbying for two years in a row now so I’d like to be able to expand on that a lot and be able to provide more lobbying opportunities that are based on different issues and environmental issues, issues that affect different communities on campus.  Involvement with the AS elections. I’ve been fortunate enough to serve on the elections board where I helped in any way I could. So overall I have a lot of experience and would like to start off running and start making changes.

Hannah Brock: VP for Business and operations (unopposed)

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A: One of my main goals for next year is increasing student awareness and transparency, both about what the Associated Students does as a whole and also about my position. I think a lot of people are unaware about what this position does, and it’s super crucial. I will be overseeing and approving a lot of the budgets and budget proposals that come through the organization. It’s super important to me that student funds are being spent ethically and responsibly.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

I have two years of experience putting on large-scale events for students, and I think that is one of the main ways of outreach. We have a lot of other resources as well, but a lot of the students hear about the [AS] through the programming that we’re bringing. I think it’s important to reflect the diverse needs and wants of students on campus and making sure all of the funding requests coming through my position, the business and operations position, is directly reflecting what students want to see, so making sure that the programing is diverse and comfortable for students and the people we are bringing and paying are doing that well. Because of my experience of productions assistant, I feel very confident in doing that.

Israel Rios: VP for Activites (unopposed)

iggest priority in this position?

A: My biggest priority is making sure students have the opportunity to accomplish their goals for what they want to do outside the classroom and make sure the AS is supporting them in that.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

I bring an outside voice. I am a transfer student, so I like to think I am bringing some fresh ideas to the board and AS in general.

Emma Palumbo: VP Student Life (unopposed)

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A: My biggest priority in this position is connecting students with campus resources. I think there are a lot of resources that are underutilized and inaccessible, and I would really like to bring students to those resources.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

I bring a lot of passion to this school and this student body and about a lot of the opportunities Western has provided me and I would like to see that for all students.

Abby Ramos: VP for Diversity (unopposed)

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A: My biggest priority will definitely be working within classrooms and with professors. I’ve personally had really bad experiences where I didn’t feel safe in the classroom because of a racial microaggression that was said or just something within gender, some really problematic things that students have said, and nothing has been done even after I went and spoke to a professor about it. I really want to take a look into why this is happening. I definitely don’t think students should be in a space where they don’t feel comfortable, especially when we are paying a ton of money and spending our time here.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

A: Currently I am the co chair for the Latino Student Union and I’m the editor-in-chief for the AS Review, so I have experience working within the AS and I understand things don’t necessarily just happen. I know that there is a process, I know things go through being voted on and everything like that. So these ideas that I have and these goals that I want to aim for aren’t going to happen right away. I’m a student and I want to change my experience and hopefully change someone else’s experience.

Gabriel Ibanez: VP for Academic Affairs

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A: My biggest priority in the position will be centering student voices, collectively demanding space for continual student input, reforming board structures, analyzing our board’s purposes and assessing and reforming when needed. We deserve to have more power within this institution. I also hope to continue the work previous Academic Affairs holders have pushed.

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

A: I believe the AS board plays an important role in a student’s life (whether they know it or not). I hope to bring a fresh outlook to my position and continue to connect departments with each other. I believe I can use my previous experiences from Western to further my own knowledge with AS and serve the community better. I am a hard worker, with a strong knowledge of many campus resources and systems, I have good social skills, and leadership skills. I strive for excellence in every situation that is presented to me.

Zachary Dove: VP for Academic Affairs

Q: What will be your biggest priority in this position?

A:  Generally, my biggest priority as the ASVP for Academic Affairs would be to ensure that Western’s administrative policies concerning educational matters are in line with the interests of all us students. The only way to accomplish that is by reaching out to students all of identities, providing room for individuals and communities to articulate their experiences, and have influence over the decisions that heavily affect their lives. It will be my job to act in the interests of all students in the formal bodies of the Academic Affairs section of the administration. More tangibly, I hope to ensure that an expansion of Advising and Counseling services happens in the very immediate future, and that it happens in an equitable and accessible manner.   

Q: What do you aim to bring to this position?

A: I’m aiming to bring multiple things to this position: 1) a critical perspective on the structures of decision making within the university and the limitations of representative student governments generally, 2) the ability to use a multitude of strategies and tactics to advance student interests, 3) the ability to identify the situations in which I need to step back and give space to marginalized students, and 4) dedication to fighting for a high quality educational system that is affordable, accessible and inclusive. 

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