Meet the 2017-18 Student Government candidates

 

Eastern Michigan University students can vote for the 2017-18 Student Government student body president and vice president, Wednesday, March 29 and Thursday, March 30.

“When the student body president or vice president tells the administration or Board of Regents that something needs to happen, and a feasible plan is presented, then something will indeed happen,” said Josh Starr, current student body vice president.

“Eastern's Administration is incredibly involved with their student leaders, and being one of those leaders is an honor,” he said.

During the election days, students can vote through their my.emich accounts for one of the parties on the ballot. Ballot candidates for 2017-18 are Miles Payne and Larry Borum or Annie Somerville and Kangkana Koli.

Miles Payne, presidential candidate, is a junior from Chicago studying Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Leadership. His running mate, Larry Borum is a senior from Detroit studying Engineering Physics.

Annie Somerville, presidential candidate, is a senior from Ypsilanti studying Political Science with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. Her running mate, Kangkana Koli is a junior from Warren, studying Pre-Law and Political Science.

Students can also chose to vote for a write-in ticket by typing any combination of the candidates first and/or last name. The write-in candidates for the 2017-18 student body president and vice president are Luke Voldahl and Celine Pilon.

The Eastern Echo sat down with ballot parties Payne-Borum and Somerville-Koil to learn more about their platforms and hopes for when elected as student body president and vice president.

Why did you decide to run for Student Government?

Miles: Ever since coming to Eastern, I’ve loved the student body and all the different kinds of students here. A huge part in my journey forward is wanting to create a better change in my communities and wanting to move my communities forward in a positive direction – essentially just making a positive change in this world.

What better way to make a positive change on campus than this position?

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Larry: I was originally going to join Student Government as a senator, but when I heard Miles was running for Student Government president I thought that since I wanted to make a change on campus, I saw it as a golden opportunity to step forward.

I wanted to open myself up, get out of my comfort zone and make Eastern move forward.

What is your campaign slogan and what is the meaning behind it?

Larry: Miles has a really good relationship with our current president, Tanasia, and I have a really good relationship with the current vice president, Josh Starr. They have pretty much been our mentors and we thought they have done a really good job moving Eastern forward with all the hits that have been taken toward Eastern recently with the racial graffiti, the business card found here and dining services leaving and being bought out by Chartwells.

Our slogan: “Continuing the Fight” we want to continue the efforts that were set by our predecessors and increase the movement along toward a better path.

Tell me about your campaign platform

Miles: Being RA’s and office managers, we have a very good pulse on many residents here on campus, but we also took a step back and thought about what makes sense for students. Our platform runs on the three “big” things that make sense for students on our campus.

The first being off-campus Flex. We really want to build that relationship back with Ypsilanti and Eastern because it is a little disconnected at times. We want to build that relationship back by being able to use Flex off campus.

The second is the parking app. We’re 70 percent commuter students, no matter our race, creed or anything like that, 70 percent of us simply drive to come get an education. We really thought it would be a great idea to come up with a parking app to make parking easier for all students.

The last one, as Larry said, is continuing the fight. There has been a lot of fight in getting the Rec/IM renovated. The current Student Government has put many proposals forward in getting opt out fees and things like that. Larry and I are excited to put the last finishes touches on getting the Rec renovated.

There is a ton more stuff, like sustainability, implementing the Black Student 10-point plan and the Board of Regent’s transparency is huge for us in regards to making the athletic budget available.

Larry: The 10-point plan was originally for marginalized students and students of color. But a really good thing about the plan is that it can be applied and implemented for LGBT students, LSA students, MSA students as well and it could be applied to all marginalized students to make people aware of the social issues at hand with race, gender, sexuality or disability. I think the 10-point plan in itself can be a grand scheme plan.

With sustainability, climate change is a challenge by many top officials, like the U.S. Government. It is really, really, really important to educate people about the environmental impact we have -- especially on this campus -- and how environmental impact can affect education within Ypsilanti. It can affect families and it can affect health.

What is one improvement you would like to see based on what the current Student Government president and vice president have done?

Miles: A huge thing Student Government were really advocating for that had some bumps in the road was having Snow Health Center better suited to take more insurance options and have more focus on wellness.

Larry and I are looking forward to bringing the wellness side of things into the Rec and not just having it in Snow. A lot of students don’t know how to navigate Snow and what they do and do not offer. We want to work more with Snow to get their services more available to all students. We are excited to build upon the pitfalls that happened this year in bringing Snow Heath and Wellness Center to the forefront.

Larry: I think there have been a lot of cases where people have not been transparent and students don’t know exactly what Student Government does. I want to be that common line between the student body and the Board of Regents. I want students to know that they can trust us.

I want to be the voice for the student body – the whole student body.

A lot of students don’t feel safe because of the racial incidents that happened in the fall and the Board of Regents needs to know that and step into implementing what they can do – whether it be the 10-point plan or more educational programs on race. We want to let students know that we care about them.

Miles: We also are students and we know a lot of the trials that go on day-to-day, but the regents often don’t. We are able to build those relationships with regents so that we can meet at a common ground and really talk about how students are feeling and help the regents better understand those students.

Why did you decide to run for Student Government?

Annie: I have always had the idea in the back of my head since I transferred to Eastern. I remember two years ago when Steven Cole was running. I didn’t know anybody in Student Government, but I thought it was cool.

I feel women – especially on college campuses – need to have a louder voice. If we didn’t run, there wouldn’t be another female frontrunner. I think representation is important and I am a nontraditional student who dropped out of college for four years. I think there are a lot of students on Eastern’s campus that could relate to that.

Kangkana: Student Government has had a positive affect on me as an individual, and really strengthened the goal I have of seeing this campus become the best it can be. Through the connections and responsibilities that the position of student body vice president has to offer I hope to accomplish my personal goals for this campus, as well as that of the students.

What is your campaign slogan and what is the meaning behind it?

Annie: Our campaign slogan is “Aiming for Truth.” The idea behind it is recognizing some issues going on in our campus that kind of have us feeling not so “TruEMU.” It’s not a slab at Eastern, it’s just saying we recognize areas that need to be heavily addressed and reconstructed.

The idea that we put education first, I don’t think holds true. Thriving off the fact that we are a diverse campus when we don’t allow students who represent those diverse backgrounds to express themselves – especially when they are being attacked on their own campus.

Kangkana: We feel like there hasn't been a lot of transparency this year about whats happening to our campus be it environmentally, academically or financially and we would like to really get down to the details about what has been happening and what can be done to prevent it from happening in the future.

Tell me about your campaign platform

Annie: The first section is education first. We’ve heard complaints from students that the Wi-Fi access is bad – especially in the resident halls which I think is important because the library cut their hours last year.

We have extending the library hours to be 24/7 as our No. 1 point on our platform because it affects students who might not have the resources to do their homework in the middle of the night. Since then, Student Government has passed a resolution to keep it open 24-hours from Sunday to Wednesday, but I think it’s a continuous conversation we are going to have with administration on the importance of keeping the library open 24-hours.

We are focusing a lot on health and safety including mental health, more programming on sexual assault awareness and making sure we utilize CAPS and looking into the breakdown of diversity because we are incorporating those points into the Black Student 10-point plan. We want to take a new approach so that we can start integrating mental health into our curriculum.

We are also focusing on offering resources to undocumented and international students. We have found four students who may be affected by the [“Muslim”] ban and we are trying to find host families for them to stay with over the summer.

What is one improvement you would like to see based on what the current Student Government president and vice president have done?

Annie: I think that Student Government needs to have a stronger voice in looking at athletic spending. Tanaia and Josh both came out and said they are against the 35 million proposal but they also passed a resolution that would support the renovations of the Rec/IM. Students are going to have a fee added on every semester and to opt-out of that fee; you would physically have to go into Pierce Hall.

For me, it seems silly because we should be able to opt-out online. I think it is a tricky way to get students to pay for the renovations. I would like to see the university look at building like Alexander that actually need to be renovated before the Rec. The only problems I see with the Rec are accessibility for people who are not able-bodied.

At what point does the Rec/IM opt-out proposal that went through Student Government fall into the same $35 million proposal that the Regents are suggesting?

Kangkana: Being on student governments executive board I've had the pleasure of seeing and being apart of some of the great things Tanasia and Josh have done and we definitely want to build off of a lot of what they had done. We had our first ever mental health awareness week this year, which I planned and went very well. We would like to hold one mental health awareness event every month or so

*Editor's Note* Due to schedule conflicts Luke Voldahl and Celine Pilon were not available for an interview prior to publication of this article.


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