The ASUPS 2012 election campaigns have proven livelier and more competitive than last year’s, with four presidential candidates and three vice-presidential candidates in the running.
The election debate, held on Valentine’s Day, brought several contested issues to the surface. Among the most discussed were plans for Club Rendezvous, the lack of study space on campus, the general apathy of the student body, the role of ASUPS with regard to political resolutions, and the amount of the executive salary.
The Trail talked with all of the candidates to learn more about their platforms and reasons for running.
Katy Appleby is running for president. She is a member of Gamma Phi Beta and the founder of Logger Nation. She is currently working on a double major in Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Business Leadership Program.
You’re the only female candidate running. Can you comment on the lack of female candidates in a school where women outnumber men almost 2 to 1?
I believe that gender has no effect on the campaign for me. I believe that the fact that the other presidential candidates are all male has no reflection on how the women of our campus community feel about leadership roles, and I do not have a good answer as to why there are not more female candidates for executive positions. I do know that it has been 23 years since the first and last female president was in office and that continuing to perpetuate the male presence in the executive office is possibly a poor representation of our campus demographic.
What is your opinion of the current allocation of club funds?
The allocation of club funds is undergoing change through the current administration and is something Scott and I wish to continue. This change is pushing for a more systematic allocation process, looking at how many students are directly benefitted by the allocation as well as how these students and this organization plans to give back to the campus community. It is my firm belief that if student funds are being allocated to student run clubs and organizations the funds must have a benefit to the greater campus community not only the potentially small group of students directly benefitting from the allocation.
Scott Miller, a sophomore, is a vice-presidential candidate, an English major and has been a Senator at Large for two terms. He is running for office with Appleby.
During the debate you said bureaucracy is not a bad thing, and that your experience working with people in that bureaucracy is what makes you a good candidate. What challenges do you believe candidates Nathan Little and Chad Harper would face as a result of approaching bureaucracy as something that needs to be cut out?
I believe that progress comes through working within a system and improving it, rather than rejecting it. Taking an adversarial approach with the administration or with ASUPS’ internal workings will actually hinder progress. The administration is here to help, and we have a lot of really hardworking staff and faculty who care about students—sometimes they just need a student perspective to help move things in the right direction. But their intentions are good and they’re always willing to work with students.
As far as ASUPS internally, the system isn’t really that bureaucratic. The distribution of power and the inertia in the system, like how it’s so hard to change the constitution, provide stability for the government and prevent abuses of power. They also protect the students from negative changes.
What makes you stand out from other candidates?
The biggest thing I can offer is ASUPS perspective and experience. I wanted to run with someone from outside [of] government to ensure that our administration had both perspectives, and I chose Katy because she’s a great non-ASUPS leader. So in that sense, the best thing I offer is that I come with Katy, and combined we know how just about every major campus organization functions—and we know people within them.
I’ve spent a lot of time learning the ASUPS Constitution, By-laws and Financial Code, as well as talking with heads of departments and ASUPS officers, to make sure that I know the most about the executive positions as possible. There’s a lot of boring reading that is essential for making sure ASUPS abides by its own rules and functions properly. And I still have a lot to learn.
When should ASUPS step in and represent the student body through political resolutions?
I don’t see myself ever writing a resolution that expresses a political view—that isn’t my job. But if a large group of students brings a resolution forward, I’m more in support of it. I think that college students have very little political power in America, and it’s important to exercise our ability to speak freely and to protest when we oppose an action of our government. Like I said at the debates, the reason I supported the second coal resolution was that it directly affected my health, the health of my peers and the quality of the air in the Tacoma community. Everyone who lives here has a responsibility to take care of our town.
Chad Harper is running for president. He is a US Politics major and an Economics minor. He was the president of the Political Science Association and a Perspectives Leader for Freshman Orientation Fall 2010.
What do you have to offer that separates you from the other candidates?
What I have to offer that’s different is that I’ve been involved with a number of organizations off-campus and could use that experience to increase the amount of engagement with the greater Tacoma community. I’ve also been vice president of my high school student council and I have experience managing a team and prioritizing initiatives. Liam and I also come from working-class backgrounds, which I think lends itself to a stronger work ethic.
During the debate, Liam Tully said you both had done the calculations and figured out that the executive pay could be cut to $500 a month. How did you arrive at $500?
During my interview with Marcus it was brought to my attention that the vice president and president make about $700 a month currently. I was not even aware that they had salaries. In my opinion, it seems a little excessive. The job is very demanding and they work incredibly hard, but I feel that money could be put to better use. $500 a month seemed like a more reasonable pay. I’m a work-study student and I certainly think they should make much more than me, but again, $700 seemed a bit much. Cutting $200 a month from the VP and president over a nine-month academic period leaves $3600 to be used towards funding clubs, which is the most important aspect of social life on campus and ASUPS’ main function.
Liam Tully, a sophomore, is a US Politics major with a minor in Business. He is running for vice president with Harper.
What kind of experience do you have that relates to the vice-presidential position?
I was the head of web strategy on a congressional campaign during my gap year between high school and college, and I was a Page in the Washington State House of Representatives. I served as president of the State Leadership Team of the Washington Association For Learning Alternatives, which gave me two opportunities to lobby state legislators on education issues, and to present our program to crowds of three to four hundred people. I’m currently an active member of Puget Sound Model U.N.
You said bureaucracy is a major setback for ASUPS. Could you expand on that? How would you cut bureaucracy out of a bureaucratic system?
I hope I didn’t give that impression—I wouldn’t try to cut digestion out of a digestive system either. To clarify, bureaucracy in and of itself is not the problem. But there are common issues that come up in a bureaucracy that must constantly be monitored and corrected. In this way, our system is no different from anyone else’s. I only want to see ASUPS live up to the sign on President Truman’s desk pledging to stop the buck there. This doesn’t have to be a school where a student who comes up with a great idea is directed to an office that should be able to help him, but ends up having that office send him to another office, which sends him to a third office, which ultimately explains to him that there is actually no office that can help put that plan into action. A bureaucracy is going to be bureaucratic, but you don’t want to let it get out of hand.
During the debate you insisted that the Rendezvous is fine as is, but two other candidates made compelling and even personal arguments to the contrary. Do you think you came off as “out-of-touch” with the needs of clubs like UT because of that statement?
I probably did come off as a bit out-of-touch, huh? That’s my fault; I didn’t really explain my ideas fully. The truth is, seeing Club Rendezvous reach its full potential has been my baby since my freshman year. I’ve talked with [Student Programs Director] Serni Solidarios about it for hours on end. I have a vision for that venue, and its not the sleek, perfectly clean, golly-gee place some faculty envision. Yesterday I talked to my fellow candidate Nathan Little, and we actually found we agreed on pretty much everything that needs to be done with the place.
Brian Ernst is a Politics and Government major with an emphasis in Comparative Politics and a minor in Music. He has served as an Honor Court Justice, the Residence House Senator and is currently the Senate’s Club Liaison.
What are your ideas for improving campus sustainability?
Specific ideas around sustainability will center around projects that will benefit the entirety of campus. These ideas, which include the reinstitution of a composting system on campus, the decreased sale of plastic water bottles, acquisition of reusable to go containers, an increased number Zipcars and use of energy monitors in residence halls among others, come not only from my own research but from suggestions from Students for a Sustainable Campus and members of the Sustainability Advisory Counsel.
Can you give specific examples of ways in which Puget Sound could engage with the Tacoma community? Why should we build those relationships?
Increased engagement with the greater Tacoma community will be extremely positive, not only for the economic benefits that this will undoubtedly bring local businesses, but also for the opportunity that this will provide UPS students to become increasingly involved with the city that they now call home. This increased engagement will take place in the form of discounts between students and local businesses culminating in the use of points for cash at local businesses like the Metropolitan Market and Farrelli’s. This sort of engagement with the Tacoma community will be positive because it will allow discounts for students while benefiting local businesses. Greater engagement with the community will also take the form of retooling the ORCA program to allow students greater access to the city of Tacoma. Furthermore, increased interaction between ASUPS and the offices of Multi Cultural Student Services, Spirituality, Service, Social Justice as well as the CIAC will lead to more opportunities for community engagement.
Rachel Borsini is a junior with a double major in Economics and Spanish. She’s running for vice president with Ernst. She has been a member of RDG since freshman year, acted as an Resident Assistant (RA) in Seward and is currently a member of Pi Beta Phi. She spent last summer studying abroad in Santiago, Chile and then studied in Granada, Spain, during the fall semester.
How would you allocate more funds to student clubs?
This past academic year, 10.15% of funds were allocated to student clubs here at Puget Sound with the required minimum being 3%. I think there needs to be a more efficient way to fund students clubs as well as possibly having club sports viewed on a separate level than other clubs. There are certain club sports that are simply more expensive to fund than others, so by exploring other mechanisms to fund these such as an initial base fee per person it could lead to more efficiency and stability.
What are your specific ideas for promoting sustainability?
We believe that by allocating a certain portion of the student fee of $210 to sustainability we will actually be able to start projects that would help to promote a more sustainable campus. By collaborating with SSC as I stated earlier we could work to create the most effective programs. Also by working to eliminate the plastic water bottles in the SUB, it would promote students to use re-usable water bottles. We would also love to bring back the recycle bins around campus to help promote recycling and possibly including a list/sign of what can be recycled so that people have the knowledge of what they can recycle. It would also be great to have a more frequent student market rather than just one per semester. With that being said, working to expand the student garden so that in the future they could partake in the student markets as well.
Nathan Little, a junior, is a Politics and Government major with a minor in Economics. He is the co-president of Ubiquitous They, a writer and participant in UT Sketch, a Combat Zone contributor and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Little is the only presidential candidate without a running mate, and has built his campaign on radical unconventionality.
What challenges do you believe it presents to campaign without a running mate? How do you think that affects students’ perception of you?
I don’t think not having a running mate will negatively affect my campaign. Since the tickets don’t actually exist in any official sense and the executives are actually elected in independent races, I hope that people will look into who will fulfill the position of VP best and then vote for them. It almost makes it a little more democratic; vote for the person who best fills the position instead of who looks best standing together. You get to mix and match your options.
During the debate you said bureaucracy is an obstacle for ASUPS. Could you expand on that?
I do think bureaucracy is the primary impediment to ASUPS action and excitement about ASUPS. And beyond it being a road bump, I really regret its existence at a more fundamental level.
In terms of overcoming the bureaucracy, well, that will be difficult. The first thing any healthy bureaucracy does is setup convoluted and contrived ways to make it hard to take it apart or bypass it.
So I’m going to try to ignore it. If I have an idea I think is awesome that isn’t making progress I’m going to use my office as a grandstand to shout my problems to the student body. If my ideas are good, the student body will listen and apply pressure to get them enacted. Do I think people will listen to me in the first place? I don’t know for certain, but if there is one thing I know, it’s how to make a spectacle of something.
How would you respond to Chad Harper’s proposal for cutting the executive salary?
To be frank, I don’t care about it. I think it was brought up as a distraction, because people will always think elected officials should be making less money. I don’t plan on cutting my own pay, but if the student body really thinks things will be better if I am making less money, well then, I’ll dock my pay as soon as they let me know.
At the debate you said you would focus on free speech as a major issue. Why is that?
Freedom of speech, and First Amendment rights in general, are things I care passionately about. While I have always felt that way, the issue that made it a concern of mine on this campus was the controversy surrounding the Rattler last year. I know that the Rattler was a contentious issue, and I hope that people will understand that my views on it are nuanced, and that just because my defense of free speech was sparked by the events following the publication of the Rattler, I do not agree with all of its content nor with its manner of dissemination.
At any rate, the jokes in the Rattler were not tasteful. At the same time, they were not a mass call to rape. They were an attempt at being edgy, one which fell flat on its face. They most certainly did not deserve an institutionalized witch-hunt. I think that a University that treats its students like that is fundamentally at odd with the ideals of higher education and with the ideals that unite us as nation. It is true, the school does not censor people on a routine basis, and most of the times we say and do as we please. However, I cannot help but feel that the times when we most need the freedoms of expression and speech are the times when they are the least popular and hardest to give.
ASUPS President Marcus Luther and Vice President Garner Lanier said they were surprised by how much autonomy they were given when elected. “I expected coming into ASUPS for it not to be as free and willy-nilly,” Lanier said. “It really is a totally open playground.”
Under the Luther-Lanier team, ASUPS underwent a series of changes ranging from foundational bylaws to marketing strategies. Among the most meaningful changes, Lanier counted the creation of the ASUPS Facebook page, Twitter account and increased communication. He said he made it his personal goal to sit down and have a conversation about the process whenever students made financial requests. Luther and Lanier are also credited with making substantial revisions to the ASUPS Constitution.
Lanier expects voter turnout to double this year due to the work he and Luther have done to make ASUPS more visible. Both said the ideal presidential and vice-presidential candidates would be approachable, motivated, and willing to work as part of a team. “Students should look for someone who’s going to be willing to take the time to talk to them,” Lanier said.
This year the vote will be held online. Students should receive a link to the voting website via email on Thursday, Feb. 23, and the link will also be available on the ASUPS Facebook page.