The closing days of the 2023 Scholar Authorities Affiliation election are quick approaching, with two candidates eyeing a time period as president.
Final week, The Every day Athenaeum sat down with SGA presidential candidates Olivia Dowler and Madison Santmyer to debate their administration’s targets and initiatives if elected.
Dowler, a junior from Weirton, West Virginia, is operating alongside vice-presidential candidate Maria Amores, a sophomore from Martinsburg, as a part of the Dwelling marketing campaign.
Santmyer, a junior from Virginia, is operating alongside vice-presidential candidate Brogan Dozier, a sophomore from Charles City, West Virginia, as a part of the Bridge WVU marketing campaign.
Voting begins Tuesday and can final by Wednesday at 7 p.m., with absentee ballots due at that very same time. College students can vote in individual at polling places within the Mountainlair, Scholar Recreation Heart and the Well being Science Pylons.
An SGA candidate debate will happen Monday at 5:30 p.m. within the Gluck Theatre of the Mountainlair and might be moderated by professor William H. Gorby, director of undergraduate advising within the WVU Division of Historical past.
The outcomes of the election might be introduced Wednesday evening after voting hours have ended.
Editor’s Be aware: The next interviews have been frivolously edited for readability and brevity.
DA: Why did you resolve to run for president and vice chairman of the scholar physique?
DOWLER: SGA has actually been the place I discovered my residence on campus, so I believed it was solely proper that I gave again. I simply could not let myself actually be a bystander within the lives of others, whereas realizing that I’ve these sources that I did not have as a lot every time I have been in locations that I have been struggling. However to have the ability to have that and put together college students, and simply actually amplify their voices, is one thing that I simply know I am unable to miss out on.
AMORES: I need folks to really feel as a lot of a house right here as I do, and I perceive that I am ready the place I may also help individuals who do not feel like WVU is their residence. And it could really feel morally unsuitable for me if I have been to only depart that behind and simply be about myself … However I believe being part of WVU and being part of that mountaineer household is knowing that you’ve got these sources within the college, on this neighborhood.
SANTMYER: I have been serving as a senator-at-large, and I form of noticed the hole between the scholars concerned in SGA and people not. And it is form of the most important factor after I take a step again and have a look at what the scholar physique wants. And I believe having a recent voice and somebody who has that insider and outsider perspective is actually good for the scholars … I am actually related with the college. I actually cared concerning the college students and care concerning the college as an entire.
DOZIER: My mother and father have been tremendous concerned in advocacy work and form of advocating for those who did not at all times have a voice … I carried that with me my freshman yr after I was fortunate sufficient to intern for SGA, and I believe it is actually essential. I used to be an intern for Amaya Jernigan, who was the primary Black president of the scholar physique … It was actually essential to me after I got here right here that somebody that seemed like me was in such a excessive function as a pupil.
DA: What are some main points going through college students at WVU, and the way would your administration deal with and start to unravel them?
DOWLER: I believe yearly — it is a huge factor — is transparency and extra of a relationship there with the College and the scholars. Particularly, like SGA, not seeming like this elite, unique little group as a result of we’re not a separate group. We’re simply part of the scholar physique. There isn’t a division between us … I do know one thing with the College, particularly that we wish to work on with, is transparency with pupil charges … I would like to get a dollar-to-dollar breakdown of that to point out college students — additionally being clear about what we’re doing, the place SGA cash goes and having that out publicly … Before everything is fundamental wants as a result of if you do not have meals on the desk, for those who do not feel protected, for those who do not feel welcomed as who you’re, studying goes out of the window. Having a enjoyable school expertise goes out of the window … I positively sit at a seat of privilege, being a white pupil at a primarily white establishment. So, I positively wish to take a step again and hearken to college students and amplify their voices with these privileges that I’m given.
SANTMYER: Our huge factor that we have been engaged on this previous yr is DEI and accessibility. I am on the inclusion committee there and [Brogan is] this system coordinator. So I have been actually working closely with the OAS (Workplace Accessibility Companies) and the ADA workplace on braille signage and the … OAS shuttle buses for benches and coverings … We’re additionally in talks with the administration to attempt to get them to require DEI coaching … That may imply, inside accessibility companies, identical to lodging, psychological well being, DEI — ensuring the professors, college, employees, anybody that is going to take care of the scholars in that capability, perceive how that works, and find out how to form of take care of college students and like … The professors and school and employees that are not as concerned with these sorts of issues are those who want it probably the most. As a result of the individuals who care about that stuff are those already displaying as much as these coaching and occasions. And we wish to be sure that all the folks working for the college and dealing for the scholars are educated on that.
DA: How do you propose to have the College and its administration take motion in your initiatives?
DOWLER: I believe one huge factor that’s implausible is that we each have already got plenty of established relationships with the college administration … I’ve gone to different universities. I may discuss to them about like, “Hey, what do you assume is at your college that may not be the identical at WVU proper now that we may carry again? Or what do you assume that college students is likely to be not seeing that causes this little disconnect?” As a result of I believe that typically the College does do issues and has causes, however they simply do not disclose these causes … Additionally, I believe realizing that we are going to be working with the College however that does not imply that we’ll at all times agree with them or simply associate with the issues they do. As a result of, on the finish of the day, we’re not right here to work for the College or the administration. We’re right here to work for the scholars and amplify their voices.
SANTMYER: Our expertise to this point has been very optimistic. We’re actually grateful for that … Having these conferences or simply brainstorming and speaking to the Accessibility Advisory Board, or the Psychological Well being Advisory Board, or identical to college students on campus. So, listening to what they’re saying, after which ensuring we’re bringing it again to the advisor or the directors … [Administrators] wish to assist the scholars .. we now have to inform them plenty of the time. They won’t see the whole lot, and we are the ones on the bottom stage of scholars. So utilizing our privilege as pupil leaders and representatives and what we hear and what college students come and produce to us … I believe is like step one. And to this point, they have been actually receptive. Clearly, cash is a giant a part of it with funds cuts and hiring freezes and all of that. That is at all times a problem that we now have.
DA: How do you propose to get the scholar physique extra concerned in SGA?
AMORES: I believe one thing that Olivia and I’ve actually talked about is how essential it’s to us that we’re not simply going to sit down and wait for college kids to come back to us. We have to exit to college students, whether or not that’s attending pupil group conferences, that is sending them emails. How can we get that data of what sources SGA can present pupil organizations? That is going to be far more environment friendly than what it’s now. I do know we at present have issues like president’s discussion board arrange by SGA. However I believe typically they’re simply not marketed that nicely as a result of SGA is simply posting and ready for folks to see, moderately than going on the market and being on the entrance traces and attempting to get that involvement from college students.
DOZIER: It goes again to our overarching purpose of being approachable. We wish to go to the completely different campuses and desk … We’ve got an open pupil discussion board; we now have two per each assembly, and college students can come, however … the common pupil isn’t going to wish to rise up on a mic in entrance of all of those folks wearing fits … So, we now have to fulfill college students the place they’re. We’ve got to go to the scholar orgs, we now have to go to Up All Evening, we now have to desk on the Mountainlair, we now have to go to basketball and soccer video games, we now have to go to Well being Sciences, Engineering … Typically folks neglect about these different campuses. We’ve got to be there, we now have to be seen and approachable.