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(From left to right) UNITE candidates Steve Lichtenfels, treasurer, Hannah Clouser, president, and Courteney Muhl, vice president, pose for a portrait in Walter Hall on March 23. 

Impact, UNITE candidates discuss platforms in pre-election Q&A

Candidates for senate's executive positions answer questions about their ticket in anticipation of the upcoming election.

Tabling and chalking are in full swing, which means Student Senate elections are underway. Two tickets, UNITE and Impact, are competing to win senate seats for the 2016-17 academic year. 

The Post sat down with executive candidates from each ticket to discuss their platforms. A final executive debate will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. in Walter 235. Students will have the opportunity to vote online March 29 and 30 by using a link to the ballot sent via email.

If elected, what would you like to accomplish as an executive board?

Impact:

Jordan Kelley: As an executive board, one of the main things we would want to do is move away from some of the internal changes that have been happening in senate for the last two years and move toward doing things that are for the students and in the best interest of the students.

Kiera Fletcher: We just really want to make sure that we’re visible on a consistent basis that is not just during this campaign season.

UNITE:

Courteney Muhl: As an executive board … we take very seriously our goals about strengthening our relationship between the senate and the student body, because to successfully empower students the way we envision, that involves creating and establishing a successful public relations team so that we are communicating with students about what their needs are.

What is one problem Student Senate has that you would like to fix?

Impact:

Alexis Apparicio: The biggest issue that I see, especially this year, it seems like almost every resolution has been about appointing somebody or trying to reconstruct senate in a way that is more helpful to students, but in all actuality we aren’t reaching out to the students.

UNITE:

Hannah Clouser: The outreach, I would say. There, while we’ve made really great strides this year to rebuild our image, I think there is still kinda that tainted view from the old senate. And so we need to rebuild trust within the student body.

CM: I would love to see senators being pushed to reach out to their constituencies and see more cohesiveness between committees and commissions. I think now a lot of what we're seeing is students elected and appointed to these positions and they have the ability to reach a lot of people, and then ... the accountability kind of dies there.

Why are you the best candidate for president?

Impact:

JK: I think I’m the best candidate for president because I have been in senate for my three years as a student at Ohio University. All of that experience has been in positions which are reaching out to the student body. … I have worked on expanding library hours, I have worked on starting a food pantry for OU students. (I), as well as my senators, have worked on some of these projects looking at lighting on campus.

UNITE:

HC: I’m doing it because I’m really passionate about making change within the student body, and the role of the president is to be a connection to administrators and to be able to hear what the students are saying and be that voice at many different tables of the university. I have experience this year working on many different university committees with different administrators as a current executive of senate. I also have experience working with types of student groups that I don’t always share the same opinions with.

Why are you the best candidate for vice president?

Impact:

AA: I think I’m the best candidate for VP because we all work really well together. We all provide very different perspectives. Jordan is really excellent at involving student affairs. I think I’m really good at reaching out to marginalized groups. I’m the president of the (OU chapter of the) NAACP, I’m a president in a sorority, so I reach a vast audience.

UNITE:

CM: I really am equipped with the knowledge of the constitution and the rules and procedures which (allow) me to understand each position within senate, what it is called to do and how it can best be utilized. … I have also represented Ohio’s Student Senate at the Ohio Student Government Association in Columbus, at the Ohio Student Government Summit in Akron and then at the National Student Government Association in New York City.

Why are you the best candidate for treasurer?

Impact:

KF: I think I would be the best candidate for the treasurer position because I have been in SAC, which is the Senate Appropriations Commission, for two years now, which allocates money to the students.

UNITE:

Steve Lichtenfels: I’ve been on SAC since the beginning of my sophomore year. … My sophomore year I was also treasurer of UPC; I managed the budget of $100,000. … I attended SAC meetings and I helped do the annual presentation for UPC that year. And then this current year as the role of president of Phi Kappa Psi, being in a leadership role I’ve learned how to kinda make tough decisions and deal with people and manage people in kinda different way.

What campus issues do you consider a priority? Why?

Impact:

AA: I would say for me one of the issues that’s at the top of my list is the lack of cultural competency. So I would really like to see cultural competency classes implemented. We are having a pilot program in the fall, so I’m really excited about that, but also furthering that and making sure that our student leaders, whether they’re the president of an organization or if they’re in Student Senate … they’re receiving additional training.

JK: Going back to college affordability, this is really one of the biggest things and one of the biggest issues on our campus. As an RA, I see this every semester. I have students who are leaving or planning to leave because they can’t come back to this university because they can’t afford it.

UNITE:

HC: I think, overarching, there’s three really important issues this past year campus has been facing, and that is college affordability, the racial climate on campus, as well as the sexual assault crisis that’s been happening. … I personally know people who have had to leave college because they can’t afford it, and that's why we need to be reestablishing our connection with the statehouse, to be meeting with our state representatives, to be saying we need more funding toward higher education.

Many of you were part of the SOS ticket or were in senate this year. What sets this ticket apart?

Impact:

JK: That’s a hard question, but I think one of the biggest things when I look at our ticket and I look at (UNITE) is that almost all of their members, more than two-thirds of their members are people who are currently in senate, and a lot of those people who are currently in senate ran with SOS last year. Whereas, when you look at our ticket, I think there’s five of us, including the three executives, who are in senate now. … I think it’s really important to acknowledge that if Student Senate is disconnected from students, why are we going to put the same students right back in the student government?

UNITE:

HC: I think what sets UNITE apart is we are experienced leaders who are coming in with a solid plan to this body that is ready to have us, and to really be reaching out to students more and saying we have this internal structure working really well.

CM: There is this misconception that's carried within the senate election that an incumbent ticket is a bad thing. … I think what sets UNITE apart is that those senators who were a part of (SOS) are not focused on the successes of the current senate, but rather that they are able to evaluate the flaws.

Reports of sexual assault are up this year. Would you take steps to combat sexual assault? If so, what?

Impact:

AA: Absolutely. Short answer, part of our platform is to make sure that we get SAP back up and running. That is a huge resource that we lost this year, and we want to make sure that there is a plan in place that if a director leaves or somebody leaves again, it’s not shut down for an entire year, that the program is secure enough to keep students at the forefront.

KF: We’re looking into a program that works with the vendors on Court Street to help them become trained and to know how to respond to incidents like that so if those things do occur, and sometimes they do occur up on Court Street, sometimes the businesses don’t know how to respond.

JK: Sexual assault is a huge issue, not just on our campus but on campuses across the country. To combat that here, we have a few things we want to do. … So things like Better Bystanders … and making sure those types of resources are being used to address students as peers and allies in the fight against sexual assault, and not the causes of sexual assault, because when we address them like that they’re not taking in any of the information. Also instituting busing to more on-campus locations and making sure that those buses are available all of the time so that students can get home safely, but also if they need to be taken to O'Bleness to see a sexual assault nurse examiner at any time they have that opportunity.

UNITE:

HC: First of all, with the campus climate survey that is being done within the Dean of Students office, we are going to push the administration to publicly release the results of that survey. ... We have plans to establish task forces not within just senate, but within the university, within administration, faculty members, peer advocates, FEM, F--kRapeCulture, and really come together to take the results of this campus survey and then say, 'What can we do better?'  ... Also in our platform, we want to start mandating bystander intervention training because we recognize education is the most important thing, but prevention also has to happen.

CM: In looking at our preventative initiatives as well, we are pushing the CATS bus system to establish a permanent off-campus route. Currently, the daytime CATS bus will travel to on-campus buildings but not off-campus.

@mayganbeeler

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@M_PECKable

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