Q & A with student government presidential candidates

By on February 20, 2012

By James El-Mallakh–

Elections for Student Government Association are underway. From Feb. 20 to Feb. 22, every student at U of L will have the chance to cast their vote to decide which slate of candidates is best suited for office.

There are currently two slates vying for the position of the top four, CardVision and CardsUnite, led by presidential candidates Justin Brandt and Max Morley, respectively. Travis Gault was in the race without a slate but has withdrawn his candidacy.

Elections will decide the officeholders of the top four, which includes SGA president, as well as a panel of senators, presidents and vice presidents that will oversee the affairs of different colleges involved in SGA.

Election results will be announced Feb. 24. The slate that wins will take office on May 13. Once a slate has assumed office, they will govern the executive branch of SGA until commencement of next year.

A vote for either slate can be cast on ULink. To vote, log on to your account and click on the student services tab; at the bottom left-hand corner of this page there will be a link entitled Ballots, follow it and from there you can cast your vote.

For this week’s edition of The Louisville Cardinal, we sat down with each presidential candidate to hear their ideas for student government under their leadership.

Eric Voet/The Louisville Cardinal

Q & A with Max Morley

Slate: CardsUnite

SGA president: Max Morley

Executive vice president: “Big Mike” Schoen

Academic vice president: Osiah Graham

Services vice president: Michael Rediker

Max Morley is currently the Vice President of Development for Kappa Sigma. He is a double major in political science and communications with a minor in history. He is currently a junior.

Q: What qualifies you to be student body president?

A: I have a lot of qualities that make me qualified for the position. I have, going on three years, of experience in SGA, I have the relationships between the administration and the students, I’m ready to be that bridge between the administration and the students, I’m ready to go in, day one, use those relationships to get real change made for the students at this university. I have the experience, I have the connections with those legislators in Frankfort that are going to be able to facilitate real change, not just here at the University of Louisville, but statewide.

Q: What are your four most important priorities as president, starting with your most important?

A: My first important priority is college affordability, just like it has been this last year. Our students are paying way too much for college, quite honestly. They’re getting gouged not only with tuition, but with rising mandatory meal plan prices, rising housing prices, rising parking plan prices. All these different things are really gouging our students.
My second priority is going to be diversity. One of the things I really want to do is get a diverse amount of voices heard in SGA. I’m Greek, but I’m tired of Greeks running SGA to be quite honest with you because that’s not the kind of variety of voices we need.

My third most important goal is going to be athletics, rebuilding our relationship with athletics… I want to nail down a solid ticketing policy that’s going to work the best for all students and working with athletics and not against them.

My fourth priority is making sure that SGA is transparent.

Q: What is the greatest challenge that U of L faces?
A: The greatest challenge we face, honestly, is rising prices…the biggest problem is, quite honestly, the university taking the burden of these budget cuts and putting them on the backs of students, because that’s the last place those burdens need to be.

Q: Explain your definition of commitment to students.
A: My commitment to the students would be an unwavering attempt to do what’s right for the student body. My commitment to students will always be putting students first.

Q: Why is your top four the most qualified to lead?

A: I think what makes our team best for this year is diversity. We’re diverse not only in racially but also with our ideas… We’re able to take all the voices from across the university and bring them to the forefront of SGA.

 

Q & A with Justin Brandt

Slate: CardVision

SGA president: Justin Brandt

Executive vice president: Austin Schwenker

Academic vice president: Carrie Mattingly

Services vice president: Sirena Wurth

Justin Brandt is the former Ritual Chair and Pledge Educator of Sigma Chi. He is a double major in political science and psychology. He is currently a junior.

Q: What qualifies you to be student body president?
A: Since I’ve come to U of L, I’ve been very active in my fraternity and on campus. I know faculty pretty well. I have good relationships with them. I have pretty close relationships with many people that have been involved in SGA, I have been involved in SGA, and I serve on four committees now… I feel connected, I have a passion for it, and I think I know the right people that I can actually make some positive differences on campus.

Q: What are your four most important priorities as president, starting with your most important?

A: It’s hard to make priorities when you’re also thinking about possibilities. One thing I would really like to do is have more outlets available in Ekstrom Library.

Also, during finals, [Ekstrom] needs to be open longer because it’s too crowded.

A third priority would be to explore the fact that it costs more money to take online classes, especially for students that are already paying full tuition.

I guess just, overall, making SGA transparent so students can see what it’s doing specifically regarding budget and operations.”

Q: What is the greatest challenge that U of L faces?
A: Right now, it’s pretty much the budget and state cuts, we have a lot of plans to do a lot of great things but when we continue to lose state funding, it’s very hard to do them.

Q: Explain your definition of commitment to students.
A: I think the biggest thing is, while student body president, is to never get an ego, you still have to go to class, you still have homework. I still ride the TARC bus to school on Eastern Parkway sometimes.
Just having a sense of humility and always being open to any student that comes to you with a concern, even if it’s something that you may not be able to deliver right away… I think that’s a commitment that matters, the recognition shouldn’t be why we’re doing it.

Q: Why are your top four the most qualified to lead?
A: I could not stop about how great my team is… I think the biggest thing is we are all involved in different areas of campus and I think [we] just kind of respect each other, the work and our dedication that we have to whatever we get involved in and whenever we put our name on something, we do it well.

CardsUnite slate

Q & A with Mike Schoen- running for Executive vice president position on CardsUnite

Q: What is your number one goal as Executive Vice President?
A: My number one goal is student facilities on campus.  Specifically, working with the New Student Recreation Center, the new parking to that has to be constructed to replace the lot where the Recreation Center will be, and the new Diversity Center.  These are the next large projects for developing student lives here at U of L and I want to make sure that students have their say in all related decisions.

Q: How do you distinguish yourself from your opponent running for the same position?
A: I believe I am set apart from my opponent in my experience in SGA and my own council.  I am in my second year as a Senator, serving as the Senate Parliamentarian and on the Development Board this year and last year, when I was Speed School Student Council President last year I also served as the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  I have been working with all branches of SGA and can say that I have excellent knowledge of how SGA functions and how we can move forward into the future.

Q & A with Osiah Graham- running for Academic vice president position on CardsUnite

Q: What is your number one goal as Academic Vice President?
A: My number one goal as Academic Vice President is to finally remove the A- from the U of L’s grading scale. This current system fails to award students for the extra work of an A+ but will penalize us for an A-. As a University, we are closer than ever working with the administration, therefore we need an A.V.P. who is aggressive in the interest of students and has the respected reputation amongst Faculty to make this initiative a reality.

Q: How do you balance the contrasting desires of different constituents on campus?
A: SGA has to have representatives who aren’t afraid to find a way to relate and effectively communicate with all students at U of L because there is no balance without it. Our campus is a diverse entity including international students, graduate students, commuters, and many subcultures to be named. I am a person who has had involvement and experience dealing with multiple groups and different cultures and I feel I can break that barrier and help students realize how SGA can connect to their lives

Q & A with Michael Rediker running for Services vice president position on CardsUnite

Q: What is your number one goal as Services Vice President?
A: As Services Vice President, I would hope to serve not only the students wants, but also needs. That is why my number one goal and my main passion as Services Vice President would be working towards the accreditation of the on campus Counseling Center. With accreditation, the counseling center would be able to not just counsel, but treat students with mental or emotional health issues.

Q: What do you say to the accusation that SGA is Greek-biased?
A: I strongly believe in having every different type of student at U of L represented in Student Government. That is why I am so proud to work alongside my fellow slate members of CardsUnite. From our top four to our senators, CardsUnite is working towards a diverse SGA that fights for the voice of all students, not just Greeks.

CardVision Slate

Q & A with Austin Schwenker- running for Executive vice president position on CardVision

Q: What is your number one goal as Executive Vice President?
A: My number one goal as EVP is to bring about transparency. We have to think of new innovative ideas on how to reach out to the students to let them know what we are doing, to find out specifically what they want from us, and in doing this, along with added programming to the RSO summit, Presidents Council, and SGA cares, we will be able to give them the resources they need to succeed.

 Q: How do you distinguish yourself from your opponent running for the same position?

A: I believe what sets me apart from Mike is my experience with events, facilities, and budgeting. I have had years of experience when it comes to event planning and I have done a great job taking ideas and direction and implementing them. As the Facilities Chair I have had experience finding research and writing Acts/Resolutions to help students. I currently have and Act that has passed through Executive Board and will be presented to Senate on Tuesday February 21st for final approval. I was the Arts and Sciences Treasurer and as President. I have applied for and used CPC funding for various organizations I am involved in; I know the process, how to make it easier and better for students.

Q & A with Carrie Mattingly- running for Academic vice president position on CardVision

Q: What is your number one goal as Academic Vice President?
A: My number one goal if elected Academic Vice President will be the promotion of activism and awareness with regard to academic policy. Although vague, I believe that those two areas determine whether or not SGA is able to reach a goal. For example, a majority of students are disenchanted with the current grade scale. SGA must be actively soliciting specific student feedback in order to convince faculty that the university should consider a change in policy.

Q: How do you balance the contrasting desires of different constituents on campus?
A: A unique aspect of the office of AVP is that academics affect different students, all students, similarly. We are all here for an education, and it can be assumed that we all desire to succeed academically. My chief concern as AVP is to work on behalf of students to facilitate that success. My job is to figure out what changes need to be made to ensure that academic opportunities are within reach for each and every student at the University of Louisville.

Q & A with Sirena Wurth- running for Services vice president position on CardVision

Q: What is your number one goal as Services Vice President?
A: My number one goal as SVP is meal plan use off campus, specifically Cardinal Towne restaurants. I think this is something that students have been wanting to see for years now, and I believe I have a practical plan to do so. Plus, this makes our university more appealing to students, so this improvement not only impacts current students, but prospective and future students as well.

Q: What do you say to the accusation that SGA is Greek-biased?
A: I’ve heard many times the accusation that SGA is Greek-biased, but I must disagree. Yes, typically Greeks are serving in the elected positions, because often times it is because their organization has encouraged and pushed them to do so. However, my freshmen year I wasn’t Greek and still became involved with the Task Force Freshmen Program, as well as appointed to Assistant Services Vice President at the end of my first year. This being said I can certainly understand the outreach necessary to get higher participation rates of non-Greeks in SGA.

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Photo: Nathan Douglas/The Louisville Cardinal

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