The Louisville Cardinal

Meet the candidates for SGA Top Four

The Louisville Cardinal asked the candidates for SGA President, Executive Vice President, Academic Vice President and Services Vice President a few questions about their vision for their offices.

Candidates for President

What is your hometown?

Victoria Allen: Auburn, Kentucky

Philip Moore: Louisville, Kentucky

What is your degree program?

VA: B.A. history and political science, minor women and gender studies

PM: Majors: political science and economics; minors: spanish and international business

How have you been involved with SGA in the past?

VA: Yes, I was the Task Force Freshman for the SGA Supreme Court Chief Justice, and I currently serve as the President of the College of Arts & Sciences and the Speaker of the Student Senate.

PM: While I have not served on a Student Council, understanding the issues of one college is not a pre-requisite for SGA President. I have attended SGA meetings, been in communication with two past SGA Presidents, and worked to understand all the critical issues that affect students  and the University. I, along with the other members of 21lou, have already given our time and effort to prepare for next year, and we have the experience to implement our plans.

Why are you running for SGA President?

VA: I am running to be the student body president because I am a fighter. I have spent my time at the University of Louisville advocating for myself and my peers, and it is with this spirit that I am pursuing the position. The role of President is one that requires a tenacity that refuses to standby and wait for problems to be solved. I have taken an active interest in the welfare of the University of Louisville, because it has taken an active interest in me. I have never been one for shying away and quieting my voice. As I use my voice in student government, I will speak for those students who rely on me to share their concerns. I am running to ensure that no student feels that they do not have someone to share their opinion with, and to ensure that it has been heard.

PM: I am running for student body president because I believe many reforms must be made to SGA and our university. As we move into the 21st Century, we require reflective representation, so our leaders may represent the diverse interests of the student body. We, 21lou, have developed a slate that addresses this concern. Besides connections and professionalism, a student body president must care and put the needs of the university above his or her own. That is my promise to you, each and every student. I will not only work to implement the platforms of 21lou, but I will be your voice as well. The job of student body president is time-consuming and difficult, and we must have a student leader that’s top commitment is bettering the student experience and a work ethic that will yield results; if elected, I will be the best advocate for all student interests.

What do you think the biggest problem is at U of L, and how would you go about solving this?

VA: The largest issue currently facing the University of Louisville is our transition into the Atlantic Coast Conference. It is an honor to be a peer among universities that have such a legacy of academic and athletic excellence, but with this privilege comes new and exciting challenges.The University of Louisville  is blessed with the most diverse population of students in the Commonwealth, and our demographics are not a common denominator with the majority of our cohort in the ACC. While we work to remain academically competitive with those universities, it also critical that we do not betray the foundation this university was built on, and begin to leave students behind. We must never lose sight of who is most important in this transition, and be conscientious about the culture we want to create. No one should forgo applying to the University of Louisville out of the fear of not fitting in, or feeling excluded from the campus culture. The dignity and respect with which we treat the heterogenous population of Cardinals must be maintained at all costs.

PM: The University of Louisville has an uncertain future identity. Over the last few years, we have experienced tremendous success and started a new chapter as we moved to the ACC, but we also have faced severe reductions in funds from the state government. However, we still developed the aim to become “a premier metropolitan research institution,” which I support, but we must also question how it will affect the student experience. While research efforts are beneficial, they should not interfere with a student’s educational attainment. As student body president, I will advocate that the student experience, at all levels, must be the chief concern of administration, which includes college affordability, quality academic programs, campus involvements, leadership development programs, diversity initiatives and student services. Another critical component of this identity crisis is the resignation of Provost Willihnganz. U of L made large strides under her leadership, and she is a true servant leader for this University. A new Provost creates a narrow window to define the effectiveness of SGA in administrative decisions, and we as a 21lou will use a business model to accomplish our goals and regain faculty and administrative focus on the student experience.

Why do you think you are the best candidate/best qualified for this position? 

VA: I believe that I am the best candidate for this position, because the university made me into the person that I am today. There have been numerous times that the university has taken a chance on me, and I have risen to the challenge, grateful for that leap of faith that continued to propel me through my undergraduate career. I have spoken to students who have had that same chance taken on them, from undergraduate to graduate to professional students. I have listened to their stories and added their experiences to my own perception and appreciation of the University of Louisville. I have spent a significant portion of my time advocating for students within the College of Arts & Sciences by listening to their needs on an individual level. I have an ear for separating individual student requests from the noise of a larger body, and finding a solution that can serve the personal and greater good. I have managed to reach out within a College of 77 majors, and hear those groups that traditionally have been forgotten. This is a skill that is an absolute necessity for an SGA President, and it is one that I am ready to utilize completely on behalf of students.

PM: When I commit to a task, I exceed expectations, and when I see an issue, I solve it. Most importantly, when I am given something, I work until I give back double or triple what I have received. I have had an amazing experience at the University of Louisville, and by the time I graduate, I will be able to look back and say I have bettered the student experience for everyone who comes after 21lou. There has been an emphasis on experience, but experience means very little without proven results. Similarly, vision without action also lacks significance. 21lou gives you both a vision of reflective leadership and completing tangible goals, while also already having the track record necessary to make influential change. Both slates agree that change occurs through administrative ties; however, 21lou has spent the last three months building that network. I, along with other members of my slate, have met with over 20 faculty, staff and administrators about running for SGA and the difference we wish to make. We also used this time as a fact-finding mission to understand the successes and difficulties of various departments and other sectors of student life in order to develop platforms that are achievable. In closing, 21lou has not stopped working. We are continuing to meet with administrators and draw up plans. While we respect the current members in office, we will begin implementation starting May 13th.

What is the coolest thing about yourself? 

VA: The coolest thing about me would probably be my hair, it’s like my trademark. Half of the time I’m convinced it’s sentient, and reacts based on my moods. The one thing I can tell you about it for sure is that it’s a great instrument for measuring humidity; it expands magnificently in all directions as the moisture in the air increases.

PM: I exceeded expectations as a litigation intern at a solicitor’s firm in London. I had never been out of the US, and I knew very little about the British legal system; however, I was able to interview for and receive an internship from a British law firm. On the job, I faced various challenges each and every day, but I continued to prove myself and equalized the playing field. It did not matter how little I knew about the subject or how confused I became; I always finished the projects I was given through hard-work and an unwavering desire to succeed. I love traveling and have gotten and will get to see so many places before I graduate; experiencing other cultures is my passion, and cultural understanding combined with my project completion skills make me the best candidate for Student Body President.

Candidates for Executive Vice President 

What is your hometown?

Caitlin Durgin: The Big Easy: New Orleans, Louisiana

Kevin Grout: I am from Florence, Kentucky in Boone County.

What is your degree program?

CD: I am majoring in economics and minoring in finance.

KG: I am a political science and history double major with a minor in economics.

How have you been involved in SGA in the past? 

CD: I have been a representative for the University of Louisville as a Student Orientation Staff Member and the President of the Society of Porter Scholars, I have been involved with Student Government Association as one of the most intricate roles needed for student government, a leader for the people. I have taken a role in communicating the needs of students, meeting with community representatives, facilitating conversations and attending student government meetings to be a student advocate and liaison. I have taken great strides to be a liaison between represented and unrepresented students by being informed and knowledgeable. To then take that knowledge and communicate with student government representatives.

KG: Currently, I work as the research specialist on the executive staff. I work closely with the current Top four to investigate our ACC benchmarks.  I see if they have policies that we may want to implement at U of L or if we face similar challenges. I have also been lucky to serve as a TaskForce Freshman to the Executive Vice President.  

Why are you running for Execute Vice President? 

CD: I find the Executive Vice President position to be the most critical in terms of progression of the University of Louisville and the city of Louisville, and serving the needs of distinct student groups including but not limited to LGBT, Cultural Center student and staff, Graduate Students and Woman’s Center. My goals as Executive Vice President (if elected) are to work closely with the Office of Community Engagement to create marketing plan for current initiatives to increase effectiveness and awareness. Begin a student committee to increase cross engagement with all student groups. I intend to work with the Academics Vice President to initiate revision of University scholarship contracts — to allow students to apply for scholarships after their admission to the University. To lead in beginning conversation and construction of a multi-cultural center that will include Cultural Center Offices, LGBT, woman’s center, health promotion and a buffet style dining hall with other kiosk style restaurants. In addition to facility updates, I intend to improve graduate students study spaces and accommodations, and enhance housing standards and affordability. As the Executive Vice President I will be the equalizer for the students and university engagement with the necessities of the students and community first. The needs are evident and now it is time to act.

KG: I am running for the position of Student Body Executive Vice President because I see a need in our SGA.  The EVP serves both as the President of the the Student Senate and the chief liaison between the Athletic Department and the Student Body.  I believe in a more active Senate that exercises its budgetary abilities and makes sure that student dollars are spent well. I also want to make sure that the Student Body and the Athletic Department are able to work together.  We want similar things, and I believe that I can foster an agreement that both sides enjoy.

What do you think the biggest problem is at U of L, and how would you go about solving this? 

CD: The biggest problem at the University is lack of communication. The lack of communication has negatively affected the student body and the community in two arenas. The first is in regards to student government; the lack of communication has created and continued to reinforce students feelings that their representatives are not meeting them half way to find out firstly what they really need, lack of updates on initiatives that were promised and additionally being discouraged by lack of representatives fully meeting the requirements of their positions. The second effect of poor communication is the student body and Louisville community being unaware of the great strides the University is making and in a sense creating feelings of ineffectiveness and disengagement amongst students. To correct the above issue I would create a Public Relations team that are passionate and proficient about campus/community climate data and marketing. This team will collect data from the entire student body, reaching beyond emails and beginning needed (in person) conversations so that our leadership can become a reflection of our campus. This team will also assist with the creation of a promotional outreach program: for schools (K-12), within the city, grassroots organizations and the student body to establish a relationship of transparency and effectiveness. The University is doing great things that we can all be proud of and it is our privilege to be aware of why we are the best University in the state.

KG: Together, Keep It Cardinal will address many of the challenges that U of L faces. I can’t wait to work with the Student Senate to ensure that the budget and policies of SGA work for the students in the best way possible.  I want to make sure that SGA, SAB and ELSB spend every single student dollar in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Why do you think you are the best candidate for this position?

CD: I am the best qualified candidate for this position because I have been selected by my peers and administrators for numerous leadership roles that have enabled me to identify and address the needs of students. Some of the direct responsibilities that I have had in previous leadership positions include overseeing of a budget and developed programming, and the supervision of executive council and members. Every position that I have been involved in has allowed me to transform every experience into an opportunity to further develop as a leader. This includes: mastering the skill of listening, effectively communicating with my constituents and developing a strategic plan. As a Student Orientation Staff Member I have had the opportunity to meet one-fourth of the campus population, and in some capacity had direct contact with the entire freshman class. The purpose of student government is not only to be a representative but also be connected and willing to advocate for the students that we are serving. Contrary to the opposition mentioning lack of experience an effective leader is defined by action and results, not by the duration of time served in an organization. An example of this is one of the great leaders of this nation:

“Despite having little experience in commanding large, conventional military forces, George Washington’s strong leadership presence and fortitude held the American military together long enough to secure victory at Yorktown and independence for his new nation”

I am the candidate that will best represent the student body because I relate, I know what needs to be done and because of my experience being a leader that is exactly what will be seen – results.

KG: Through my experiences in SGA and other RSO’s, I believe that I am the best candidate for this job. I have spent weeks researching student athletic ticketing policies of all of our ACC benchmarks. I have studied every aspect of our SGA Constitution, and I am prepared to lead the senate. In both of these crucial aspects, I believe that a vote for me is a vote for the best and most experienced candidate for EVP.

What is the coolest thing about yourself?

CD: One of the most interesting things about me is not only that I’m from New Orleans but also because I have family all across Louisiana from the swamps, the bayou and the city. The coolest thing about me is my heritage from Redeaux, Tillman, Ovide and Durgin. I love where my heritage comes from and also wherever my future will lead me. ​

KG: I’m a Kentucky Colonel! The highest honor bestowed upon a Kentuckian.

 

Candidates for Academic Vice President

What is your hometown?

Katy Ashby: Hanson, Kentucky

Alex Stewart: I’m from the far East-end of Louisville.

What is your degree program?

KA: mechanical engineering.

AS: I am currently majoring in biology and minoring in international health studies

How have you been involved with SGA in the past?

KA: I currently serve as the Vice President of the Speed School Student Council. As the vice president, my duties include planning Engineering Exposition which is the largest student run outreach event at the University.  Additionally, I have served as the Director of Society Relations for SSSC and the President of the Freshman SSSC.

AS: I have been honored to serve as a Senator for the College of Arts & Sciences. With this role, some of my involvements and initiatives have been to complete delegated tasks on A&S Council regarding social media and marketing, sit Task Force for Tuition and Fee Setting, participate in the Search Committee for the Assistant VP of Facilities, and I am also on the 21st Century General Education Task Force.

Why are you running for Academic Vice President?

KA: I am running for Student Body Academic Vice President because I will be the best advocate for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. I will fight for positive reform in the General Education requirements to benefit all students. As we see a new academic building, I will ensure that students’ interests are paramount. I am ready to represent all students to the Provost and Deans of U of L to make sure that our voices are heard.

AS: I am running because of the audacity that I have to be able to change the future. With the relationships that I am capable of forming with administrators, as well as ideas from all students and the formation of different committees to collect opinions and interests, I believe there would be a new role of SGA with a large hand in all decisions.

What do you think the biggest problem is at U of L, and how would you go about solving this?

KA: The largest issue facing our University is the graduation rate.  To stay competitive with other universities in the ACC we must create initiatives to maintain our upward trajectory.

AS: In regards to the University and academic units, I see that many of the problems lie in our technology and its user-friendliness; it is important to give students something that they can get experience out of—whether it is professional, personal, or the like.  An example of this could be exposing the opportunity for undergraduate research positions, mentoring programs, et cetera. The way to solve this issue could be utilizing technology that the University already uses, or looking into more streamline services. As some students may be aware of, there is an app called Symplicity (used by many engineering majors, law students, but neglected by others) in which students can upload their resume, and apply for job positions online. Creating more opportunity and opening this up to faculty to post listings including research opportunities and mentorships would add another layer to UofL student’s education, giving them real experience and transferrable and applicable instruction.

Why do you think you are the best candidate for this position?

KA: My experience with University officials and ties to the administration make me well suited to advocate for the academic needs of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.   I am committed to continue our growth as a top tier metropolitan research university!

AS: I believe that I am the best candidate for this position because of who I am and what I am in this for: equity to students, genuine administrative relationships, and a commitment to improvement and opportunity. If I were to have the chance to hold this position, one of the major tasks that I would like to complete is to improve student-administrative ties. With these new, sincere relationships, an mutual agenda can be made that resembles a conversation of what the students want and what the administrators want, so that all values and interests may be held accountable, leading to a campus that is ours.  

What is the coolest thing about yourself?

KA: I was recently selected as a 2015 Kentucky Derby Princess!

AS: I have sung my entire life – in large choirs, a cappella groups, madrigal ensembles, arias, and so on! Music is a very integral part of my life. It is where I find myself.

 

Candidates for Services Vice President

What is your hometown?

Kaylee Brandt: I grew up in Fort Thomas, Kentucky in Northern Kentucky. I have family all across the Greater Cincinnati and I have always loved living in a metropolitan area.

Aaron Vance: Vine Grove, Kentucky.

What is your degree program?

KB: I am a psychology major with minors in exercise science and spanish. I am also taking pre-requite courses in order to apply for my master’s programs in occupational therapy.

AV:political science (major)  / anthropology and economics (minor)

How have you been involved with SGA in the past?

KB: In the past, I have been involved with SGA in a couple different ways. First, as a freshman I attended Freshmen Arts & Sciences Council meetings and helped plan events for students. This was my first interaction with SGA and what got me interested. Then, the spring of my freshmen year I ran for Arts & Sciences senator. The entire campaign process truly helped me get to know more about the University of Louisville and our students. I’m excited to be running again this spring!

AV: I am the current Political Coordinator for SGA, as well as having been a Task Force Freshmen. 

Why are you running for Services Vice President?

KB: I am running for my specific position because U of L Services are something that makes U of L as wonderful as it is. I would love to have the opportunity to enhance these services and adapt them to student’s needs and wants. As Services Vice President, it would be my job to expand every student’s experience at U of L. This would be an honor to give back to the University as much as it as it’s given me. I also believe that Student Government Association in general can make a large impact on students and administration, and with the right people, goals can become a reality. We, as a slate of 21lou, have already started working towards these goals and without a doubt will be able to make an impact that University and students.

AV: I am running for Services Vice President to continue to serve the students and to better the University. Much groundwork has been laid by previous SVPs and now that the University is rapidly expanding, I believe that I can serve to capitalize on our growth, and to bring what the student body wants to an ever-changing campus. 

What do you think the biggest problem is at U of L, and how would you go about solving this?

KB: One major problem I see at U of L is the delivery of services. Again, U of L does a great job providing enriching services for our students, but sometimes they can be vague and hard to find. We have strong escort service for safety on campus, but do all students know this number or where to find it? Our dining services are conceptually good, but why are there not more swipe options, a dining hall, or a better distribution of dining services around campus? Organizations host educational, philanthropic and fun events all over campus, but do students have university wide calendar to learn about these? I believe that a transformation of our University App for smart devices would be the solution. By making the U of L App not only more advanced but more student friendly would excel our services beyond any comparative University and most importantly at the touch of our fingerprints.

AV: A good problem, but a problem nonetheless, is the growth of the University. The growth of our University has resulted in many different growing pains. And as this continues to be the case, a blank slate exists to be filled by the amenities and options that students will want in our expanding University. As well, our growing campus is leading into an encroachment into existing neighborhoods and placing pressures on different groups. As a Top Four it will be a prerogative of ours to connect students, student government, and Metro government to remedy this and bring solutions to problems afflicting both. As well as to increase the growth of the community in the vicinity of UofL.

Why do you think you are the best candidate for this position?

KB: I am the best qualified for Services Vice President because I am a multifaceted leader. I have learned to employ strong ideas, lead by example and value what those whom I’m leading have to say. Not every leader realizes all three of these things are pertinent, but I do. My leadership experiences in college, including Delta Zeta Sorority, student council, and Student Orientation Staff, have taught me how to effectively listen to others and truly understand what organization members or students want and need. This makes me the best candidate because it is a huge part of serving as SVP. I must be able to learn what students need at U of L and put it into action.

AV: Already serving as an advocate for the student body in Frankfort and D.C. in my capacity as political coordinator, it’s time to take these skills and work to advocate for the students of the University internally. I can attest experience in working in student government and how to navigate the system already, but the issues that affect our students in the areas of safety, sustainability, parking, community relationships and dining are paramount to student living and to continue to improve them, is to continue to improve our University. I believe I have the skills to serve as a conduit for the students and to better the University of Louisville.

What is the coolest thing about yourself?

KB: Every summer for the past 5 years I have served others in fun and leadership positions. Before I came to U of L, I was a camp counselor at YMCA Camp Ernst for 3 years. This experience let me grow outside of my high school experience and gain leadership skills before college. After my freshman year at U of L, I went to Spain for two months as an Au Pair (international nanny). Not only was I able to experience the new culture and improve my language skills of Spanish but also taught me things about myself that I never knew. Finally this past summer I was able to serve as a Student Orientation Staffer at U of L. Being an SOSer has been one of the most enjoyable and impactful experiences thus far.

AV: My Dad and I restored a 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle which was my first car that I still have!