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The key points from the ASA Candidate’ Forum

The key points from the ASA Candidate’ Forum

A point-form recap of what happened at Monday night’s ASA election forum

Candidate Platform Speeches

Each candidate was given two minutes present their campaign platform and convince students they would be the right choice.

Hannan Mohamud — VP Communications Candidate

Platform:

  • Advocate for mental health initiatives on campus.
  • Increase the amount of information relayed to off-campus students.
  • Engage students more effectively
  • Brings experience as an RA and UniTea volunteer
  • Address mental health problems
  • 3-11 will bring change
  • Wellness is different for people
  • Promote student engagement in Wellness Week
  • Activities and to promote diversity
  • Augustana advantage is diversity
  • Focus on better communication with off-campus students
  • Bridge between ASA and students body
  • Hold Office hours in the Forum and Dish
  • Find entertaining methods for advertisement
  • Create ‘Wellness Wednesday’
  • Brings peer Support experience with UniTea
  • Is passionate about mental health and other people being passionate about it
  • Current VP encouraged her to run

Taylor Johnson — VP Academic Candidate

Platform:

  • Smooth transition into 3-11 by working alongside academic advisors to create a quick guide to help students navigate system and make it available on the ASA website
  • Increase communication between ASA and students by implementing a policy requiring ASA members to have one office hour every week in the Forum
  • Continue with ‘making your Mondays pop’
  • Make ASA meeting minutes available to students by posting them
  • Construct an interactive map of Augustana
  • Advocate for a nurse on campus or near campus

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

Making sure the transition to 3-11 is as smooth as possible.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

Experience being in an ASA committee last year and very passionate about student government and politics.

Nnenna Achebe — VP Finance Candidate

Platform:

  • Celebrate Augustana diversity
  • Increase funding for clubs
  • Improve ASA’s role with diversity
  • Diversity should be Augustana advantage
  • Improve transition for international students
  • Improve inclusion of LGBT students
  • Advocate mental health
  • Work to ensure budgets meet those needs
  • Transparency is a big issue

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

The 3-11 schedule.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

Brings a different perspective on things as a science student.

Danisha Suchak – VP Finance Candidate

Platform:

  • Increasing awareness of student discounts and increase the availability of student discounts
  • Create discount cards given out to every student at the beginning of the year
  • Increase awareness of student grants by spreading information through media outlets that are available on campus, social media, cafeteria announcements and other outlets by working with the VP Communications
  • Advertising for on-campus student jobs

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

The 3-11 schedule. First years get transitions week and they’ll understand what’s going on. The biggest transition will be to returning students, who will not have a week to be told what’s happening and how it’s happening. Relaying that information will be a huge challenge.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

Experience. Having been on the ASA for two years, understands where the budget goes. Experience helps understand the needs of students and understand how to make the budget better

Aliya Kadirova — VP Finance Candidate

Platform:

  • Effective use of budgets
  • Transparency
  • Will seek more jobs for students and keep them posted on the opportunities
  • Discounts and promotions
  • Communication is a better source to reach out students
  • To seek more jobs and keep them updated
  • Diversification of services
  • Will work for students to have more opportunities for awards and grants

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

The 3-11 schedule.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

My commitment towards for my position.

Ben Curry — Presidential Candidate

Platform:

  • Mandatory Non-Instructional Fund, with that we’ll be able to break down what this campus needs for funding
  • Look into what to fund
  • Get a student rep on board for MNIF
  • Look at needs of students
  • Pushing toward improving the direct representation for Augustana students
  • Make students understand the importance of what the ASA does
  • Start using the SU as more of an asset

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

Mental Health. Still underrepresented on mental health and only have two councillors that deal with the entire campus. New fee will help alleviate that problem.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

Experience, I have looked at myself as to how I can better represent students.

Amara Onyia — Off Campus Representative Candidate

Platform:

  • Bring off and on campus students together
  • Create events for off and on campus students to sit down together
  • Use things that are relatable such as mental issues as bridging point
  • Hand out pamphlets and talk to students
  • Address the mental health of off-campus students

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

Focus on international students, new students and off-campus students ensuring everyone is okay.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

I am both off-campus and international student.

Chidzea Mutize — Councillor at Large Candidate

Platform:

  • Bring in resources that are available in North campus for sexual assault victims but not in Augustana
  • Bring more awareness to sexual assault on campus
  • Increase mental health and awareness, everyone has different needs
  • Can never have too many resources, work together with students who are willing to help their peers in different ways.
  • Bring back After-U and increase awareness of it.
  • Bring more job fairs to campus

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

The 3-11 schedule, and mental health and wellness. A lot of time will be available during 3-week courses to educate students about sexual assault.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

I care about these issues and want to help everyone out.

Alex Ho — VP Student Life Candidate

Platform:

  • Promote existing ASA events and services
  • Working division of student services
  • Implement a new system: Transitional stage before elections to give a gist of opportunities and tasks of each member of the ASA
  • Increase sense of community

What is the most important thing the ASA should address?

Community helps a lot. Being introvert is easy but community influences a lot.

What makes you the right candidate for this position?

I will try to beat myself, I have to prove myself. More than being popular. Passion matters, self-growth.

Question Period

Candidates took questions from the audience.

How do you plan to address the issue of clubs not applying for funding?

Nnenna: I will increase the amount of times during which people can apply for club funding. Ensure that club execs know about the funding.

Danisha Suchak: Quality of applications is not there. Increase awareness of grants.

Aliya Kadirova: Use students for tutors and engagement.

Alex Ho: Remind clubs about the money that’s there and encourage clubs to hold events and engage students.

Question to Councillor at Large candidate: After-U is not a program that happens every year and one of the reasons behind that is that the After-U program requires a very dedicated student to bring all the necessary connections to bring that program here [to Augustana]. My question is, how do you ensure that After-U will continue after you’re done serving on the ASA if you are elected?

Chiedza Mutize: If we keep pushing the program people will start asking for it and we won’t have to do as much work to push for it, people will just ask for it.

Question for VP Finance Candidates: How do you think you would be able to create a little bit more transparency for on and off campus students, as well as raising money throughout the year in combination with clubs or any other fundraising ideas you may have?

Nnenna: To increase transparency, I would make myself more accessible to students. I’d also provide a monthly detailed budget to show students where their money is going.

Danisha Suchak: Transparency is there, it’s the awareness of the availability of the budget that is lacking. We do charge a ticket price for First Class Bash, Winter Formal, and Last Class Bash, because we don’t use the entire budget for events as we also have awards and grants, charging ticket prices covers half of the event cost.

Aliya Kadirova: To justify the ticket prices, we should mention things like the champagne fountain. To increase transparency, we should post the budget every month.

Question to anyone willing to answer: How would you be able to raise money for the ASA to substitute or add to the budgeting that the ASA already has?

Danisha Suchak: [In response to previous calls for monthly budget updates] We do provide monthly budget reports at our meetings, so it is accessible to students. [In response to current question] Ask businesses for sponsorship and in exchange the ASA advertises for the businesses which increases external revenue that can be used for external grants and services.

Aliya Kadirova: Ask local businesses for sponsorships, given that Augustana does hold a number of community events and is a large part of the Camrose community so it’s right for us to ask for funds.

Question for Nnenna Achebe: You talked about club diversity, what do you mean by club diversity and how are you willing to advocate for clubs?

Nnenna Achebe: There are many different clubs, there are clubs for physical activity such as the Triathlon club, there are clubs for international cultures, and I feel that their presence needs to be more known on this campus, because they don’t know how to get money, are afraid to hold events and afraid to ask for money. Work to make more deadlines for club funding and make it known that the funding exists so clubs can have events throughout the year.

Question for President candidate and VPA candidate: How do you feel about structural reform of the ASA? Do you feel there are certain areas that are underrepresented, overrepresented, need to be changed completely, things like that?

Taylor Johnson: The ASA should look into structural reform, I really like the way student government in North Campus is laid out. I think it would be good to have representatives from each faculty [arts, sciences], and I’d like to have another Councilor At Large. It needs to be reformed a little bit.

Ben Curry: Move clubs from VP Student Life to VP Financial, because with clubs you’re mostly dealing with budgets.

Question to the candidates of VPA, VP Comm, President: *How do the three of you plan on starting the conversations for long range planning?

Taylor Johnson: We need to ensure the transition into 3-11 is smooth but also the future running of the system is just as smooth. We need to make sure that students’ questions are answered. Suggest making 3-11 quick guides.

Ben Curry: Better communicate to students about the reason behind certain things and be constantly looking at long range planning.

Hannan Mohamud: Make positions more visible to students and create small guides for new execs to follow.

Question to Off-Campus Rep Candidate: For those off campus people who suffer from anxiety, depression, how do you plan on targeting them and bringing them out so that they actually know there is something that they can do that they feel safe going to and that they know they can talk ?

Amara Onyia: Have events at the time that students are on campus for class.Have two sessions a day. Creating online space for mental health, where students can reach out for help.

Question for President, VP Academic, and VP Comm candidates: How are you gonna be able to attack the concerns of social media posts and attacks against diverse groups, or create awareness of the venues or avenues for students who do believe that they are victims of online bullying?

Ben Curry: The difficult part about Chitter, is that it is anonymous and on campus here as Augustana faculty, we just need to bring more awareness, we need to educate more people, we need to get the word out that it is not okay to act in certain ways. The difficulty with online bullying and Chitter is the fact that it’s anonymous, and so people feel that they can say whatever they want and won’t be persecuted. Unfortunately, it comes down to the point of if you are being targeted on an anonymous website, delete the app. It’s hard, we’ve even tried in the past to contact Chitter and get back a post, but it’s impossible they won’t do it.

Hannan Mohamud: Racism was an issue before Trump. The ASA showing that it’s there is important. Overshadow the negative messages with positive messages, and information on resources available to students who’ve been targeted.

Taylor Johnson: The most important thing we can do is raise awareness of the problem. Talk about the conversations of mental health, bullying, racism, all these sorts of things, the more we talk about them, the less the stigma and more people are educated, the less it becomes a problem. Make existing services available to people targeted on Chitter and implement new services if the need arises.

Question directed at Hannan Mohamud, VP Communications candidate: How do you plan on promoting student engagement through other platforms?

Hannan Mohamud: I plan on changing Wellness Week, having Wellness Wednesdays, or certain times during the month when people who are feeling low can speak to someone. Use peer support to help with mental health.

Question addressed to all candidates: In what tangible ways can you actually help students instead of just talking about 3-11?

Hannan Mohamud: Just by being visible. Work closely with the Student Engagement Coordinator, because she is in charge of mental health and a bunch of other things and resident coordinators are as well, just to work closely with them to say ‘hey , these are the resources I’m offering and maybe they can come up with something that’s a great mental health resource plan and we can work with them and make it long term if students like it.

Taylor Johnson: Making sure that we’re all on the same page, making sure that all execs and councillors all have the same information. Continuing the work of Hope McDonald as VP Academic, making sure that resources are available online.

Nnenna Achebe: Listen to students on campus, be optimistic about schedule changes.

Danisha Suchak: Need a feedback system to know if 3-11 is working and is beneficial to students.

Chidza Mutize: Make videos about the frequently asked questions on 3-11.

Aliya Kadirova: Assist in Beartracks 101

Ben Curry: Work with faculty.

Alex Ho: Be vocal with students

Amara Onyia: All members of the ASA should be able to answer student questions regarding 3-11. Explain 3-11 to students and empathize with their grievances.

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