Thursday, December 2, 2021

Q&A with ASMSU's fall general assembly candidates

October 4, 2021
<p>ASMSU holds a General Assembly meeting on Feb. 27, 2020. </p>

ASMSU holds a General Assembly meeting on Feb. 27, 2020.

Photo by Jack Falinski | The State News

On Sept. 19, the University Elections Committee of ASMSU approved 10 candidates from various colleges for the special fall election.

The candidates that are running are as follows:

College of Communication Arts and Sciences: Subah Bhatia, Daniel Zivian

College of Nursing: Avery Benner, Eleanor Hoss

College of Education: Ella Woehlke

College of Music: Jayar Benner

Lyman Briggs College: Kirthi Krishnan, Zaaki Mandwee

Broad College of Business: Andrew Ky

College of Engineering: Ian Barber

From Oct. 4-8, the student body will have the opportunity to vote for the remaining college reps.

Student government reporter Ashley Zhou spoke to each candidate regarding their background, proposals and their developments for ASMSU.

Q: What experience and qualities do you have for this position?

A: 

Bhatia (via email): "I think that this position requires one to be a good leader, to have visions and aims for their college and community and to be willing to propose and execute actual change on the ASMSU platform instead of remaining a silent bystander in meetings and discussions. I made the decision to run only after reflecting on whether I’d be a good fit for this position and realizing that my experience in leadership and creative policies over the last few years have indeed made me a good fit for representing the (Communication Arts and Sciences) student community at ASMSU."

Zivian: "I would say that I consider myself a very good speaker, I’ve been told as such people at least ... I’m all about getting ideas out there and a general good sense and interest in government because although I’m not studying in James Madison, I’ve always had a political interest. Kind of started when I was little with my family; my dad is a lawyer ... I’ve learned a lot about local politics from him and his participating in that. So a lot of it’s not necessarily rules or regulations that I’ve had down by heart or anything like that, but it’s a general osmosis of having grown up in the environment that I grew up in."

Hoss: "I think I’m very involved with the College of Nursing personally. So I am the student advisory council representative for my cohort, and I’m also the treasurer for the Nursing Student Association. So I have a lot of experience just working with the students in the College of Nursing so I have good connections that will help me within the ASMSU being in the general assembly."

Woehlke: "I’ve done a lot of leadership positions throughout my years just like in high school and college. So since I’m a sophomore, last year I did a lot of stuff through the student government at my last school, which I went to the University of Toledo. And I also did a lot of stuff within my classes. I was part of the honors program there, so I did a lot of research on the impact of COVID-19 in education, so that was a big thing for me. In high school, I was the student council president for my high school — loved representing the student body. I did a lot of things like creating town hall meetings and stuff like that to help better represent my class so that’s why qualifications."

Krishnan: "In terms of the position that I’m running for, it requires you to advocate for the people that you’re representing, so in this case, it would be the student body and other (Lyman) Briggs students. I think that I’ve had experience advocating for people before in other positions that I’ve held, and I think that the most important quality in a position like this is that you’re open and willing to listen. It’s very important for you to listen to the people that you’re going to be representing because at the end of the day, the decisions are being made about them and not you, right? So, you always got to keep the people in mind that you’re representing at heart and that’s a quality that I think that I exemplify."

Mandwee: "It’s not really about experience. It’s more about having a vision and having an ability to lead and having an ability to promote change. So it’s not really about experience, even though I have that. In high school, I was the president and founder of my debate club at Rochester High School. I was a part of all the different organizations that you can imagine: (National Honors Society, or) NHS, Spanish NHS, social studies NHS, science NHS, I was part of the environmental club, president of the environmental club. So you know, I’ve got a lot of the quote experience, but what we really need is a vision, we need leadership, we need change and someone that is able to propel that change and promote progress for the ASMSU. So it’s not really about the experience."

Ky: "I was part of my high school student senate for all four years. I served as class president for three years and then stood on the executive board for one. I have public speaking experiences and leadership skills. I’ve led big projects back in high school as well."

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Barber: "I’ve been pretty active in the College of Engineering for quite a while now. Obviously, I’m a senior now so I’ve been around awhile, and I know a lot of students both older and younger because I been there and I am there, right? I’ve been involved in a lot of our engineering student orgs, and I just feel like I really know our student body that I’ll be representing and that’s what I’m here to do."

Q: What is the first action that you would propose for your college?

A:

Bhatia (via email): "My policy platform that houses my ideas and vision for the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is called The Pen Program, and is designed to achieve two intertwined goals: spurring creative innovation and improving student health. I have ideas that I’d like to see implemented through ASMSU in three main areas, CAS-specific policies, student health, and student education. Out of the actions I have outlined for CAS specifically, I’d push for more and better support for student-led programs. This includes an increase in ... funding, support, and advisory help for student-run initiatives like podcasts, blogs, films and more. Secondly, I’d like to bring in creative sponsorship programs by working with professional companies to bring a taste of the professional world onto campus and help students work in the fields that inspire them."

Zivian: "I am a part of Telecasters, and one thing that we have been trying to get is slightly better communication with the ASMSU. Being on the ASMSU, my first order of business would probably be actually trying to ensure better communication with Telecasters. I believe it’s a strange arrangement, I don’t think we quite have a seat, but we do send someone to the meetings because stuff can impact us ... But I think I would also expand that to other clubs in (CAS), we have the Street Teams, we have Spartan Sports Report, Focal Point, those are all big groups doing big things and one of the things that distinguishes them from other groups is these are stuff that’s seen ... So generally I would want to investigate exactly what level of contact .... my Telecasters, or any other organizations, have with the ASMSU, and I would want to probably do something about that because it’s a little shotty at the moment."

Hoss: "I definitely want to focus on COVID protocols and the general health and safety of students because especially the College of Nursing is a health professional program, and we haven’t had much representation with the health sciences it feels like, and I think it’s very important right now to have people that are studying that, talking about COVID, and just like general health safety, especially in the fall when flu is going around and everyone’s getting sick. I think it’s good to just have a voice of reason in that sense."

Woehlke: "I’m thinking about revisiting the fifth-year internship to make it more equitable for the students of my college because I know it’s expensive to be able to have to go an extra year of school basically. I’m trying to look into more options about potentially reworking that, and then another thing that’s not really as specific to my college, but I’ve been talking to other representatives about, would be potentially adding a room within the IM buildings for females to work out in or people who feel like they need a safer space to work out. So that’s the two things that I’m working on right now."

Krishnan (typed in email): "COVID has made (students) a lot more understanding of circumstances, and it’s been something that’s really opened our eyes to the challenges in people’s lives and helped us to be more empathetic and realize that there is so much that can impact a person’s experience. I want to take this understanding and compassion and continue to apply it to our lives as students here at MSU. That’s why the first thing I’d want to see happen is the S/NS system being brought back and giving students the option to opt into it during any given semester. It’s a change that I think would be really beneficial because it’s important for us to continue to be aware of the challenges and barriers people may face to their education and do whatever we can to make it easier."

Mandwee: "For my specific college, I think we have a problem with students getting into the classes in Lyman Briggs ... One of my bills would probably be to expand the availability of classes, specifically for Lyman Briggs, I have a ton of other platform ideas and such for campus generally and for changes — academic, non-academic changes — that I would like to implement for the school and changes for ASMSU, our student government as a whole because I think there are many many issues with that."

Ky: "Just trying to advocate more for mental health as well as potentially bringing back a pass-fail grading system or a way just to make the grading system a little more fair because let’s say some student gets a 2.0 in a class and then the class average is also lower than that but it appears to be bad. For specifically to help the Broad School of Business, which I’ll be representing, we’re hoping to work closely with the Broad Student Senate to bring more legislation, create programs that will help students get involved more in startups, research and stuff like that as well."

Barber: "I guess I don’t have any specific strong actions that I’m trying to make right away. I’m just here to be a voice of my peers and whatever comes up that they would like me to introduce or to represent our interest in any folks that other reps maybe have going on."

Q: What is a change that you hope to see looking forward to the future for ASMSU?

A:

Bhatia (via email): "I think that the place ASMSU is at right now, is sadly not very practical and useful to the student community. The organization holds the power to create some real positive change on campus and is unfortunately not using its full potential to do so. One change I hope to see in the future in ASMSU is to make it less of an empty advocacy platform, where ideas, good ones too, are put forth but never translated into actual policy and impactful benefits for the students of MSU. I hope to see it become the space it was intended to be, one where good ideas are discussed as well as executed, and a place that actually gets things done."

Zivian: "I have a particular interest in religious tolerance although any of my friends will tell you that I’m not the picture of observance ... I believe there were some incidents with The Rock (on Farm Lane) recently, and although I don’t think it is within the capabilities of the ASMSU to legislate a rock, other things can be done, and I’m interested in making campus more equitable for students of all different religious persuasions ... It’s been one of my personal apprehensions about student government and a trap that I hope I do not personally fall into would I be elected: trying to stay the course and not lash out at someone, and I hope I don’t experience any level of hate from peers. This logic that I want to apply to campus I think also applies to ASMSU in that you got a lot of people with a lot of diverse opinions and world views who might see themselves as tolerant in a way that matters but not realize that they’re being intolerant in a really bad way and they just don’t see it."

Hoss: "I just hope to see it broaden people’s perspectives on things and just maybe open people’s eyes to the health parts of the student life. I just want to educate people more on the health side of everything."

Woehlke: "I think it would be great, since I’m a sophomore, I think the sophomore class has had quite a hard time with everything going on. So I want to see more sophomore representation within ASMSU because we are really lacking, and I think that our voices need to be heard especially in this time because I feel like we’re kind of a forgotten class."

Krishnan: "ASMSU is already a very diverse student body as is, but I would like to see it grow to be even more diverse and inclusive. I know they’ve been doing an amazing job making sure that all perspectives are being heard, but I would definitely like to see that continue because our study body is extremely diverse with so many different perspectives and it would be very very cool to see a student government that reflects that."

Mandwee: A lot of students know me as the person who kind of started the boycott ASMSU thing in the summer. A lot of people know I was kicked out of the ballroom at The Union when ASMSU was hosting the event there because they did not wish for me to be there because I was against a lot of the things that they do and against a lot of the things that they don’t do because frankly, in my view, the ASMSU has not lived up to what it should be. They have not really done anything in their capacity to help students. So my main issue was with the organization as a whole. They do not really work for the students, they kind of work for themselves, they kind of care for themselves and for their own resumes and so on ... I’m against the entire system, but if I’m able to join ASMSU that would give me a platform, not necessarily to pass out the progressive and visionary ideas that I have but at least I have a platform on which to express my dissatisfaction with the entire system and be able to do that as a representative in ASMSU."

Ky: "Just to see more diversity in the people hearing others' opinions more without getting all political and controversial stuff like that. Just being sure everyone has an equal voice and say in each situation like that."

Barber: "I guess I’d just like to see a lot more people involved. ASMSU does a lot for our campus, and I feel like not a lot of people know about it or really get involved in trying to make sure we can keep these things happening. And it’s important that we all have our representation filled and that’s something I hope that we can have more of going forward."

College of Nursing candidate Avery Benner denied an interview, College of Music candidate Jayar Benner did not respond.

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