The Maroon

SGA Election 2018: Q&A with the executive candidates


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The Maroon surveyed the candidates who are running for SGA president and vice president. Here are their answers:

Rebekah Vensel and Brianna Daniel-Harkins

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Rebekah Vensel Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

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Brianna Daniel-Harkins Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

Rebekah Vensel is a music industry junior who is running for SGA president. She has previously served as an SGA senator. Her running mate is Brianna Daniel-Harkins, who is a history pre-law senior. Daniel-Harkins also served as an SGA senator. They hope to meet the needs and wants of the student body.

Why are you the best candidates?

I am dedicated to being the advocate for students and know my past experience in SGA has prepared me for such a task. In the past, I have been a student voice in aspects regarding semester schedule changes, advising focus groups and enforcing greener campus initiatives. I am ready to work hand-in-hand with faculty and administration to push initiatives that the students want. I am running on a relationship-based campaign fostering the needs and wants of the students.

Where did the previous administration succeed? Where did it fail?

The grant received for the recycling bins has been truly incredible. I am so proud and humbled by the hard work that members of SGA demonstrated writing this grant.

What are your six initiatives for the next academic year?

Bri and I are running on a relationship-based campaign where we want to foster the needs and want of the students. We are running on four initiatives.

1) Your SGA: After spending a year involved in SGA ourselves, we’ve become intimately familiar with the programs and initiatives SGA engages with. We want to capitalize on our knowledge to help us identify gaps in our programming so that we can better fulfill the needs of our student body.

2) Hand-in-Hand with Faculty/Administration: We’ve spent the past year developing strong relationships with faculty, staff and administration who know us as members of SGA. We plan to utilize our already existing relationships with administration to help constituents get what they want since we have already passed legislation each of us are proud of.

3) Honesty in our Rhetoric: Too many times students face brick walls when they are trying to accomplish something on campus or obtain more information. There is a need for more transparency for these students to be able to engage with the campus in ways that best suit their own needs.

4) We Want You: We Want You is tackling the same goal as number two but in a different way. We want to give students an opportunity to access SGA and know what SGA is in case they want to take charge of its benefits. It is also providing them with a streamlined communication to connect with us without jumping through hoops.

What is are some concrete things that you will do differently than Ben and Blane if any?

Ben and Blane put their hearts and souls into SGA over the past year. Brianna and I will do the same if we are elected. Obviously, I am running and focusing on different initiatives then Ben and Blane, so the comparison cannot be seen. We will work to make SGA the very best that it can be through our four initiatives. The focus will be on the needs and wants of the students and advocating those needs and wants to the faculty and administration.

Sierra Ambrose and Joann Cassama

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Sierra Ambrose Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

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Joann Cassama Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

Sierra Ambrose is a political science junior who is running for SGA president. She has not previously held a position in SGA. Her running mate is Joann Cassama, a biology sophomore. Cassama has also never held a position in SGA. They hope to use their fresh perspectives to make a change.

Why are you the best candidates?

Throughout my three years here at Loyola, I have been active on campus through various organizations and I am a big believer in collective impact. However, as a freshman, I did not know how to get involved and I was unaware of my resources. Oftentimes, even now, I find myself having to create and search for my own resources. I know all too well what it’s like dealing with financial aid, academic advisors, residential life and other entities on campus. My decision to run has been influenced by my personal experiences and interactions with the student body and faculty on this campus. Loyola students have issued a call for action and I am the one to answer.

Where did the previous administration succeed? Where did it fail?

The administration has succeeded in establishing our university’s first Chief Diversity Officer and through this office, we have seen intentional efforts for diversity and inclusion. In addition, the administration provided a platform for both student and faculty to speak on issues that affect the Loyola community. However, the administration is not fully meeting the needs of the students. With the lack of flexibility in financial payment plans, there are students who are withdrawn from classes or have financial holds on their accounts. Additionally, seniors have expressed dissatisfaction with advising which forced them to stay an extra semester. Lastly, there is still a disconnect with Loyola students and the administration, which students feel unsupported.

 

What are your six initiatives for the next academic year?

Community Engagement: This initiative promotes community engagement through collective action. By partnering with organizations across campus, we plan to provide incentives that focus on community building with an emphasis on bridging the gap between the Loyola and New Orleans communities. We plan to implement service as a requirement for SGA representatives to engage with the community around us.

Diversity and Inclusion: Our student government should be reflective of our student body. We plan to establish a board of student organizers to meet monthly with administrators and faculty. We plan to hold administrators accountable to student needs while also providing a platform in which every student has a voice.

Health and Wellness: We want to transcend the discussion of mental health and overall well-being by giving our campus tools to protect and educate students. This initiative will partner with community-based organizations that provide resources as well as improving on-campus resources.

What is are some concrete things that you will do differently than Ben and Blane if any?

If granted the opportunity to serve as SGA president, I will be transparent about what is happening in both SGA and within the administration. I will not shy away from pressing issues that concern our student body. These positions have held a seat at the table with administrators and the board of trustees and it has not been used effectively. If elected I will advocate for our student body whether I am speaking with the president of our university or in a room full of faculty. Radical change requires real work. I am the change you can trust.

Terran Lumpkin and Bryant Istre

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Terran Lumpkin Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

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Bryant Istre Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

Terran Lumpkin is a psychology junior who is running for SGA president. She  has previously served on the University Programming Board. Her running mate is Bryant Istre, who is a political science junior. Istre served on First Year Council and the University Programming Board. They aim to improve resources for the student body as a whole.

Why are you the best candidates?

The key to representing any organization is being in tune with what their constituents’ needs and desires are. Terran and I have crafted a platform that angles at reducing one of the major anxieties all college students have and what one of the main purposes of college is in the first place: finding meaningful employment whenever we graduate.

The other key element of leadership is finding creative solutions to perennial obstacles that face the organization. New problems are rare, exciting and easy to discuss. The harder issues are the ones that persevere from one administration to the next; student apathy towards SGA, breakdowns in communication between faculty and students, adversity between SGA and The Maroon. Our ticket has held some positions in SGA but for the most part, we’re new to leading in this capacity. The key to problem solving and growth is innovation, and fresh faces and new voices are the best way to make a difference on campus.

Where did the previous administration succeed? Where did it fail?

The administration succeeded in enacting all six of its initiatives. They set out achievable goals, outlined steps and then executed. At times it felt like the faculty administration would surprise the campus with certain changes. Seniors were blindsided when they couldn’t register for classes as a result of the order of registration and very few people were aware of the thinking behind the school’s desire to change the academic curriculum to longer classes with a shorter semester. One of SGA’s key goals should be to communicate with students any pertinent actions of the faculty.

What are your six initiatives for the next academic year?

We have four initiatives for this upcoming year:

1) Professional Development: Our key outcome for this initiative would be Loyola students being more prepared to enter life after college. The various major programs on campus have differing levels of professional development. Our long-term goal is for every student at Loyola to leave with a product, a portfolio of accomplishments and the skills necessary to compete and succeed in the job market. A short-term goal would be to drive more traffic towards the career center and make sure that students are aware of the resources already in place to help prepare them for life after college.

2) Student Wellness/Involvement: This initiative would focus on increasing the cooperation and communication between organizations with similar goals and on projects that improve student experience (a specific would be the addition of feminine hygiene product vending machines in campus bathrooms).

3) City Immersion: The previous administration had an initiative that focused on getting students informed about underused resources on campus, our initiative would focus on informing them about the city, whether it be in regards to potential internships, or in regards to various festivals that New Orleans has to offer.

4) Mental Health: Two of our key outcomes for this initiative would be to reduce sexual assault on campus and to let the administration know that increasing our counseling resources is a priority. A year ago, the wait times for the counseling center often were around two weeks. If Loyola continues to take in larger classes, it will require an expansion of our university’s capacity to meet our students’ mental health needs.

College campuses are often flashpoints for sexual assault. Our efforts would focus on working with local businesses and bars to ensure that they’re doing everything they can to protect our students and by improving our ability to understand the numbers themselves.

What is are some concrete things that you will do differently than Ben and Blane if any?

As mentioned in the previous response, my hope would be to have such clear and open communication between our executive council and the faculty that no surprises would hit the campus. We would focus on going after larger goals, maybe where we can’t achieve everything we set out to do, but initiatives that will create feasible change on campus. We hope to utilize all available resources to reach our students. The Maroon and SGA should have more open channels of communication since they have a goal in common: serving the students of Loyola.

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SGA Election 2018: Q&A with the executive candidates