MILWAUKEE (March 25, 2012) – Candidates running for MUSG President and Vice President took part in a debate Sunday night where they were asked questions about their platforms and challenged with student concerns. Below is an introduction to each set of candidates, followed by a summary of some of the night’s more important debate issues as answered by the candidates.
Meet your 2012-’13 MUSG Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates:
Drew Halunen and Stephanie Marecki: "With a combined 5 years experience in MUSG, we aim to make student government and the University more transparent. We will work to change the culture of diversity and inclusivity on campus through strong lines of communication and greater collaboration with student organizations.
Drew and Stephanie are both juniors in the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts & Sciences. Drew served as an MUSG Senator the past two years and currently serves as MUSG Legislative Vice President. Stephanie is serving her third year as an MUSG Senator.
Arica Van Boxtel and Bill Neidhart: "We are running for MUSG President and Vice President because we believe in a collaborative student government: one that is working for and with the students. We aim to address issues like campus diversity and transparent tuition increases with a refocused, proactive student government. We WILL do the student body good."
Arica and Bill are juniors in the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication and Helen Way Klingler College of Arts & Sciences, respectively. Arica currently serves as the MUSG Communications Vice President. Bill is serving his third year as an MUSG Senator.
Catch up on Sunday evening’s presidential and vice presidential debate:
Why did you decide to run for the positions of MUSG President and Vice President?
Drew: Stephanie and I have very different perspectives, we’ve battled many times but always come to an agreement on common ground. We can challenge one another with our different perspectives in a way that will best represent the student body.
Stephanie: MUSG is something we’ve developed an incredible passion for, both of us being involved since our freshman year.
Arica: This is where I can make the biggest impact on our campus. I would be a President who goes out, talks to students, and brings that information back to administrators. There’s no protocol as to who will walk through your door, you have to have that logic and critical thinking to deal with every situation. I have a passion for this and a great consideration of the people; I really like the listening aspect.
Bill: I want to reach out to the student body and see how much our Senate can do for the students.
Name one area of MUSG you think needs the most improvement. What sort of changes would you make?
Bill: MUSG needs to be a refocused organization. We need to increase our outreach and create a more open organization. It’s easy for student leaders to reach out to other leaders, but how do we reach out to students?
Arica: Outreach. It’s too common for students to ask ‘what’s MUSG and what do you guys do?’ When I was a freshman, I wouldn’t have known about MUSG had no one reached out and talked to me about it.
Drew: Marquette has 265 student organizations, many of which don’t have a single MUSG member in them. They don’t know what they’re doing in terms of Student Organization Funding (SOF). The SOF process is confusing and difficult; we want to establish a liaison process that will allow student organizations to get as much funding as possible.
Stephanie: A student liaison representative would connect student organizations to MUSG directly and walk people through processes they may not know.
You both mention diversity in your platforms. What do you mean when you say diversity, and what are you hoping to do about it? What would a diverse Marquette campus look like to you?
Drew: Marquette has a single African American male on its leadership council. How can this University tell the student body to be more diverse when they don’t check in their own backyards? Once the University gets serious about retaining, hiring and really considering individuals from diverse backgrounds, that’s when the student body reciprocates. How can we bring students here from all types of backgrounds and say, ‘welcome to Marquette, you are one of very few,’ we can’t do that. We need to make this campus open for everybody. When Marquette becomes a home and available to every single student like it has become to me the past three years, that’s when we’re on top of our game.
Stephanie: Diversity doesn’t just mean the cultural background of a person. We’re also talking about religion and sexual orientation, things of that nature.
Arica: Saying the word diversity and setting it aside is kind of segregating in itself. What it really comes to is inclusivity. Personally, I’ve always felt like I can’t walk into the Multicultural Center because somebody will ask me why I’m there. You look and that and you say- what does that say about our entire campus? There’s a lot of room for improvement; it’s making sure we are celebrating our similarities on campus and not just focusing on our differences but learning about those differences. Diversity shouldn’t be something conceptual; it should be a lifestyle thing.
Bill: The present Diversity Task Force is a major part of our platform. It’s a group of 15-20 really passionate students who want to take charge on this. This is where we can have these discussions, share perspectives and decipher how are we going to encourage students to make a movement on campus.
Distributing a tuition receipt breaking down the cost and allocation of Marquette’s tuition has been attempted in the past, what will you do differently this year?
Bill: When tuition goes up 4.5% a year you shouldn’t just have a Marquette News Brief that says, ‘Hey, your tuition went up $1,400. Have a Happy Thursday and we’ll see ya next week.’ Our tuition receipt is a real idea that will provide an exact breakdown of where our money is going. This information is federally mandated to be made available and Marquette has all of this information on file.
How do you plan on having MUSG representatives work with student organizations to understand funding applications and other aspects of MUSG? How will you strategically reach all 250+ student organizations?
Drew: We can look at the records, see who’s applied for funding when, who’s updated their constitution and who has the most members. We can take that data and see which organizations are most active that could benefit from our help. Strategically, we cannot reach every student organization, and that’s where our traditional aspect of making sure we have an available finance office comes in. We’re talking about a pilot program, it doesn’t have all the kinks worked out but it’s a big step in the right direction.
For more information on the 2012-’13 MUSG elections, please visit http://musg.mu.edu/2012elections/, and be sure to vote on Wednesday, March 28, online from midnight to 10 p.m. Spread the word and vote!