Meet the Candidate: Sterling Rettke
Running for president
Major: political science
Below are excerpts from an interview with The Western Front.
What made you want to run for Associated Students President?
“I want to be involved in the communities that I’m in.”
What issues do you want to tackle?
“The main issue that is facing the school currently is the resident adviser issue. I’m in support of the RAs and I think they deserve a lot more than they get. That’d be the main issue that I get at.
“As for other minor issues, I’d say an example would be more diversity in the Viking Commons’ lunches, because our school is trying to push for more diversity, but realistically we are not as diverse as we wish we were. So we could start with simple things like having more diverse meals. Once a month we could have an extremely diverse selection of foods, like Chinese foods, Indians foods, stuff like that.
“I personally wish we had a more diverse student body but I really have no clue how to get [that]. That’s something that I feel like other people try to answer, but they have no answer. There’s no plan you can put in place to get a more diversified student body. I’d encourage high schoolers to come here, but I don’t know how to do that, personally… But I think we can work as a school and a student body to raise up these groups more than we do.
“[Also,] this is a big thing that I think should be addressed. I personally have no clue how we can make it happen, but the water fountains at this school, besides the gym ones, produce lukewarm water. Cold water fountains is a very important thing. So write that down. Cold water fountains is a needed thing at this school.”
What are your qualifications?
“In high school I was a junior class president and I was senior class [public relations person].
“I am pretty new to this, but I feel like a lot things are able to be picked up on very quickly. It’s not something that’s insanely difficult.
“The main thing for juniors was to plan prom. We budgeted prom, picked the venue, hired the music and bought all the decorations.”
Did your experience in high school make you want to do this, or have a big impact?
“I have future political aspirations that I hope to get into after I work as a lawyer and have some decent capital under me and are able to push a political career. I think this would be a great beginning step toward that overall goal. Hopefully either a governor or senator. The end goal would be president of the United States, but that’s a little unreasonable.”
[Referring to Rettke’s bio] So how would you drive out hate and judgement and replace them with love and kindness? What do you mean by that?
“I think anybody that goes out to like Red Square or does anything that actually promotes hate–which happens, not often, but it does happen–an example was last year on campus, which was handled properly. Last year when the student did the racist remark toward [the AS president], that was handled correctly and that needs to continue. That’s a very radical case. More so, in theory, if somebody uses a racial or a discriminatory slur toward somebody, like a homosexual slur or something, I think that we as a school–although we do despise those things–there’s really nothing we can personally do technically [besides] saying don’t do that. It’s considered hate speech if it’s to an extent. I think that’s just unacceptable behavior. Students that do engage in that should be penalized heavily.”
On your biography page you said, “My main goal as your student body president is to be progressive, in all aspects.” What does that mean?
“Continue to progress the school. And Stephanie [Cheng], the current president, has done an amazing job at that. So continue to do what she has done thus far and continue to give minority groups more of a voice and an advertisement throughout the school.”
You said if people email or contact you on any social media, no matter the time or date, expect a response within a maximum of 10 hours. How would you go about doing that?
“I check my email all the time; I check it probably like six or seven times a day. And I check my phone very regularly. So it’d be easy to respond. My one critique of the current administration, not just Stephanie, but everybody on the board currently, people have told me that they’ve messaged them and it takes a while for them to get a response. And that’d be my only critique, but I feel like that is a pretty big critique in the sense that you’re the top of the line voice for the students. And if they’re trying to get a hold of you, you should be able to respond in a fairly prompt manner. And personally, when I was trying to get my first meeting with Stephanie, it took like three and a half weeks to get, which I feel was way too long. She was sick, so I don’t critique her for getting the sickness, but I just feel like there has to be some sort of accountability for not being able to [respond] frequently.”
Would you say one of the main things is being more transparent?
“If I win, I want any student to come up and talk to me at any time whether through email or face-to-face. I just want to be immediately responsive to them. That’s a top goal, to represent students.”
How are you going to break the AS bubble?
“I’m not involved in AS. I’m kind of a beginner at this stuff; so I realize it’s in a kind of an underdog way because I’m not really involved in clubs or anything currently, but I just feel like I honestly can make positive change and be impactful at this university. As I’m sure my two competitors can. Or believe they can be as well.”
If you summed up the things you want to improve, what would they be?
“I want to promote diversity, but I also don’t want to provide false promises. I don’t know if you’ve interviewed the other two that are running. I don’t know what they’re personally running on, but I [saw] last year, one of the president people said they would try to lower tuition. That’s not actually possible by us. Or lower the book prices. That’s not possible by us. I just want to be completely honest and not run on illegitimate facts that aren’t possible. I hope that my two competitors are doing the same, because I think that’d be pretty dirty play if they run differently.
“Also, to sum up the RA issue. I think that is the most glaring issue, but a quite easy fix. Our school makes a lot of money and they can easily afford to pay RAs more than they pay them.”
How would you describe your campaign in a couple sentences?
“I will be extremely responsive, and the best thing about my candidacy is that I am an outsider.”
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