ASUWT Elections during the pandemic: Online Candidate Public Election Forum

Elections open this week and students can vote through the online ballot. In order to help make an informed decision, this article highlights the candidates that participated in the Public Election Forum held last week. Said forum included all of the candidates that will be listed by name on the ballot. However, write-ins will also be accepted during voting. 

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

President: Vincent Da

Why did you decide to run again? 

I am studying healthcare leadership. I am a junior going into my senior year. So, I get this question a lot,” Da began, “The reason that I am returning is because my peers influenced me. I really originally wanted to give this opportunity to someone else…” he explained. 

Subsequently, he went on to say that he felt that any student leader could be the president and all it takes is courage. However, despite his eagerness for someone else to take on this role, he addressed the concern from a number of his peers that felt continued leadership along with the continuation of relationships built this past year would benefit students going into next year. Concluding with this sentiment Da explained his desire is to “help people move forward in this time of crisis.”

Biggest Goal: “In this position, you have the special opportunity to form professional relationships with two various high-level groups on campus” said Da. “For faculty, I want to stress and advocate the importance of being equitable in how you teach online.” For example, he brought up international students’ needs during this time — if they choose to go back home there may be more difficulties with online learning if the class is not asynchronous. Being asynchronous allows students to have the time to work through the material at their own pace and in line with their timezone. 

He emphasized equity and access to further discuss financial strain during this pandemic and advocated for Open Educational Resources or freely accessible, openly licensed text, media, etc. To finish, he also addressed the importance of processing student fees faster, discussing the delay in refunding the usual YMCA membership to students and his desire to ensure a timely process for these sorts of things. 

Representing all Students: Da noted, UWT is a nontraditional campus. We have student parents, first-generation, undocumented students, all types of students around campus and one way that I try to represent them all is by being open and transparent. I always let anyone reach out to me and I always invite them to ASUWT to engage with us. I think that being open and transparent with any information that you get from high-level leadership and spreading that information helps relationships with students. If you want to represent all students’ voices, give them that outlet to reach out to you so that you can advocate for them.” 

Amplify Student voices to admin: “Knowing the characteristics of our campus is important,” Da informed. He referenced the fact that UWT is a commuter campus and mentioned that he  “wants to change the model” so that instead of waiting for students to come to you, you go to the students “whenever they are available, wherever it fits them.” He then moved on to state, “You also want to keep the administration accountable.” Following suit, Da referenced the collection of data by multiple means regarding student opinions and presenting that data to administration in order to ask them about “actionable framework” — which he defined as including “a timeline of how you will respond” and “what actions will come from this”. 

Director of Internal Communication and Affairs: Kirsten Lynn Hargett

Why did you decide to run again?

“I am a Biomed and psych major entering my 5th year at UWT, and last year I chose to run for ASUWT really just wanting to understand more about how our university works. What goes where, who does what, and just learning more about it. I’d always been involved in student life. This year, I have seen how it works and honestly, there’s some things that need to be fixed and the purpose of me running is just to better serve our students and to try and fix the things that I see are a problem. Instead of just trying to do a bandaid fix, actually put the time in and the work in to make a significant change,” Hargett said.  

Biggest goal: The 60-day Crime Log is a log meant to be updated with all incidents, the goal is for this log to be consistent, and Hargett explained that she feels “it doesn’t serve its purpose when it’s neglected,” as it too often has been. Hargett wants to hold administration accountable for updating that crime log every two weeks, or at least every month, so students have “the most up to date information about what’s going on on our campus.” 

Representing all Students: “One thing that I have been cultivating for the past 4 years being at UWT is that everyone knows that they can slide into the DMs, they can let me know how they’re feeling about any issue. I place myself in my office a lot of the time to make myself available for people to stop by.” Beyond this, Hargett also mentioned that she is always more than willing to meet with people, and help people with anything. 

Amplify Student voices to admin: “Being cohesive and consistent. When we all get together and we say this is how we feel about this and we are not just going to take your write off answer, we want to see your action plan,” said Hargett, she then posed the question, “What are you going to do to address the demands that we have created?” 

Director of Student Technology: Nolan Hibbard-Pelly

Why did you decide to run?

I am going to be a junior next year. For the past 2 years I have served on the STFC board, seeing more of what student gov does for the school. So I really want to join in more, and have a greater part in the student gov more. I really think that I can serve STFC well and have a greater part in ASUWT,” said Hibbard-Pelly.

Biggest Goal: Hibbard-Pelly explained how important he felt it was for STFC to be more available to the student body in stating, “We don’t get a lot of student engagement. I’d like to see a more hybrid version of our meetings that would allow students to drop in from anywhere, and bring up the issues that are important to them… basically just making the committee members more available to the campus and to who we are supposed to serve.”

Representing all Students: In terms of representation, he addressed his beliefs regarding More transparency about what STFC is, the fact that it is available to all students,  and the fact that we pay into it. Giving students the opportunity to have a say in what they fund in this way. Outreach to student groups asking what they need as we are available for students, classrooms, and RSOs.”

Amplify Student voices to admin: Lastly, Hibbard-Pelly mentioned, “Being that pathway of student voices where we both pass on information down from administration to the student body and the wills of the student body up to administration will allow that discourse.” 

Director of Legislative Affairs: Ronan Houston

Why did you decide to run? 

I think the capacity of people to do great things when they are organized is high. I think that UWT students are in a unique place to do that. I think that the legislative position holds a lot of influence on where we can focus our attention to help the students of UW and help our community,” said Houston.   

Biggest Goal: “One of the most important things when producing a legislative agenda is making sure that it is as representative of the students at UWT as possible,” he said. Moreover, he explained his means to address this in saying, “One thing that I am interested in doing is creating some sort of initiative to survey the students at UWT and see the issues that matter to them most, and where they would like our legislative focus to be.” 

Representing all Students: Houston went on to emphasize the importance of initiating “a way that we can survey students and grab their opinions and their ideas” geared towards legislation for the UW community. “Another interesting thing that I think is unique to UW is how many on-campus organizations that we have. One thing I would do as Director of Legislative Affairs is reach out to campus organizations and listen to the issues that are affecting those communities.” He went on to say that these tactics will help us to begin to institute changes that will help those communities how they best see fit. 

Amplify Student voices to admin: “Organizing students in a way where they themselves can go out and influence the administration, because while I think that ASUWT plays a really important role in facilitating that conversation between the student body and the administration, I think there are a lot of ways that students on campus can take direct action themselves.” Ronan also made reference to the protest that took place last semester — something he was directly involved in — on the presence of customs and border patrol on our campus at the career fair as a way that he feels displays the power of organized student voices. 

Director of Outreach: Seonhwa Pak 

Why did you decide to run again? 

I am a psych major, I am going to be a senior. I wanted to make the best of it. Being a senator I enjoyed serving the students and our community. I wanted to run for a bigger position to push myself and to be more involved,” said Pak. 

Biggest Goal: Pak addressed issues regarding campus life and indicated her want “to continue on the legacy of Daisy and the other ASUWT ideas of how we should promote ASUWT and how we should provide awareness of what we do, because there is still a lack of student engagement and considering this pandemic student engagement might go down even more. Daisy and Vinny were working on doing news videos and I would like to continue that legacy because we did not actually get to implement that this year. I would also like to find unique ways to promote our organization.”

Representing all Students: Pak discussed a desire “to make ASUWT more accessible and making our resources more available,” and went on to say that she “would like to do that by trying to promote ASUWT meetings in new ways, and trying to give underrepresented students a platform to express their needs.”Amplify Student voices to admin: “Taking quick and responsible action is really important.” Emphasizing the time sensitive nature issues and thus the solution that needed to be reached, Pak referenced the protest against customs and border patrol as a way that students coming together with ASUWT made a real and timely change.