Saturday, October 24, 2020

Following elections, meet ASMSU's new leadership

April 19, 2019
ASMSU President-elect Mario Kakos and other newly-elected members of the 2019-20 session were sworn in April 18. His predecessor Cookie Rifiotis stands by him.
ASMSU President-elect Mario Kakos and other newly-elected members of the 2019-20 session were sworn in April 18. His predecessor Cookie Rifiotis stands by him. —
Photo by Jayna Bardahl | The State News

Following the election of political science junior Mario Kakos as the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) president, the 2019-20 session's General Assembly (GA) elected the rest of their Office of the President on April 18.

The new Office of the President will consist of: Vice President for Financial Operations Tayte Rider, Vice President for Academic Affairs Brianna Aiello, Vice President for Governmental Affairs Maysa Sitar, Vice President for Internal Administration Nora Teagan and Vice President for Student Allocations Dylan Catalano.

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Vice President for Financial Operations-elect Rider

With a unanimous vote, the GA elected accounting junior Rider as Vice President for Financial and Operations (VPFO). Rider will replace graduating senior Dan Iancio, who held the position for the past two years.

Rider worked as the registered student organization consultant manager throughout this year. He said he believes this position has prepared him to “transition well to the VPFO position.”

Rider spoke on the initiatives he plans on taking on as VPFO during his speech, one of which is to “assess the services that we are currently providing and evaluate their effectiveness in terms of the student body.”

“I’d rather deliver several really effective services than spread ourselves thin over a wide variety of services that we can distribute semi-effectively,” Rider said, before making reference to carrying out the laptop rental program that was passed during the previous GA session.

Vice President for Academic Affairs-elect Aiello

Social relations and policy sophomore Brianna Aiello was elected to the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA), beating her freshman opponent Reese McCaskill Jr., Aiello won with 27 votes. Three voted for McCaskill, three abstained, five voted no confidence and one voted for current VPAA assistant Kelsie Luokkala, who dropped out of the race last minute.

Current VPAA Dylan Westrin also dropped out of the race due to his approaching graduation date.

Aiello’s campaign focused on looking at ASMSU as a "team."

“We function in order to enhance the student experience through education, empowerment and advocacy by our dedication to the needs and interests of students," Aiello said.

Following their speeches, Aiello and McCaskill Jr. were each asked the same five questions from General Assembly members, one of which questioned the individuals' involvement in ASMSU if not elected.

“At the end of the day, you can be a leader without a title, and you don’t need it to advocate and to better this university,” Aiello said after strongly expressing that she was “not leaving,” regardless of the election outcome.

Vice President for Governmental Affairs Sitar re-elected

Political science and journalism sophomore Sitar will continue to serve as ASMSU's Vice President for Governmental Affairs (VPGA) after being re-elected by the 2019-20 GA. Sitar received 32 votes, beating candidates Ragine Head who received five votes and Sergei Kelley who received three.

Sitar highlighted her strengths as a candidate during her speech, noting she's been a student advocate at "Big Ten on the Hill" for two years, "forming important connections with staffers, legislatures and officials at the state, local and federal level.

"Though I am only a sophomore, I have fostered trust through these interact actions as a consistent and passionate advocate for students," she said.

Sitar's opponent Kelley was the former College of Agriculture and Natural Resources representative for ASMSU and vice chair of the finance committee.

He began his speech addressing concerns he believed GA members would have regarding his ability to separate his personal political affiliations with his duties if elected.

Kelley referenced the relationship he had with former VPGA Eli Pales, who served his position while also being president of MSU College Democrats. He said he would separate his opinions similar to how Pales did. “I think this is something that I can hold myself to,” Kelley said.

Sitar highlighted some of the things she plans on working on as VPGA.

“In the summer and fall, I will make voter registration a priority, as I have in the past," Sitar said. "Even prior to becoming VPGA, I have made voter engagement an essential part of my life. My intention is to create a comprehensive and unbiased campaign of information for students to reference.”

Vice President for Internal Administration-elect Nora Teagan

Comparative culture and politics sophomore Nora Teagan will serve as the Vice President for Internal Administration (VPIA) after receiving 25 votes from the GA. Teagan’s opponent Selva Haidar received 14 votes, and one individual abstained.

Teagan previously served as the vice president of ASMSU's sophomore class council.

“From this past year, I’ve seen the space to grow and look introspectively within the department,” Teagan said. “When our members are served and empowered, the voices of all of our students are able to be better recognized.”

Runner-up Haidar, a College of Social Science representative for ASMSU, focused her speech on her optimism and passion for the position.

“(I’ve) watched previous VPIA’s shine when they walked in the room, everyone was excited to see them. I knew this was something I was destined to do,” Haidar said.

During the question and answer segment, Teagan expressed her plans to make ASMSU policies and actions more accessible to the general public.

“There has to be a more accessible way to access our information of our organization," Teagan said. “There shouldn't be barriers to understanding how our organization works.”

Vice President for Student Allocations-elect Dylan Catalano

Social relations and policy sophomore Dylan Catalano was elected as Vice President for Student Allocations (VPSA) against four other candidates, making it the most contested position in this year's elections.

The race ultimately came down to Catalano and his opponent Lily Alexander, who were separated by four votes.

Catalano, who has been involved in ASMSU for two years, focused his campaign on his goals and passion for the position.

“The student allocations board is entrusted with almost one fourth of the ASMSU budget every year and we need to make sure that that board is able to accurately represent diverse students interests and understand impartial decision-making,” Catalano said, before explaining that he plans to do this by working with new ASMSU Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer.

One question from the GA asked which candidate they would endorse besides themselves. Both Catalano and Alexander responded by saying they would endorse each other.

Despite Alexander’s experience, Catalano voiced passion for the position as well as initiatives he hoped to act on in his speech.

“I recognize the immense amount of responsibility and the amazing year of service that come with the job of VPSA," Catalano said. "I am excited and energized for the job and I am ready to further serve the students of Michigan State University."

To conclude the final elections meeting — which was not adjourned until 1:37 a.m. — all six newly-elected individuals were sworn into their office.

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