As the 2017-2018 school year draws to a close, the University of Northern Colorado begins to elect a new Student Senate for the upcoming year.
Election packets for candidacy became available in early February. Throughout the month, several candidate information meetings were held, and the announcement of candidates was available on March 7.
To continue the election process, a meet-and-greet for the candidates was held on Wednesday, March 28 in the Office of Student Life lounge. Candidates had the opportunity to meet with both each other and other students to discuss their platforms over dinner.
This year, three students are running for the position of student body president.
UNC junior Lobna Alsrraj, a political science major, has been involved with Student Senate since her freshman year and is one of those students.
According to Alsrraj, she wants to be the first international president because she thinks it’s important to have that diversity on campus. She wants students to be aware of the different populations on campus and wants to be a voice for marginalized identities, as well as students who don’t feel that they are a part of UNC.
Alsrraj has three main goals for her platform. Her first goal is to work on mental health, and she is campaigning for equitable resources for all students. Her other goals are to enhance the diversity on campus by working with students and the school and to restructure Student Senate. According to Alsrraj, the resource centers and the cultural centers do not have a seat on Student Senate, and thus are unable to vote.
For the mental health goal, Alsrraj is currently on a committee with Michael Kimball, where they are working on opening a mindfulness center on campus. Kimball is an associate professor for UNC’s anthropology department and has experience has a certified mindfulness teacher.
“So in order to accomplish any of my goals, I would have to work with the student body, with the Student Senate members, and even with the audience members who come in, and they have a lot of insights being outside of the organizations themselves,” Alsrraj said. “So I just really hope to create multiple committees for my goals and, you know, to work on them one by one.”
According to the Student Senate website, Tim Hernandez is another candidate running for student body president. Hernandez is a multicultural outreach and recruitment ambassador for the Office of Admissions, as well as a group tour assistant coordinator.
“I am seeking office on the Student Senate Cabinet to advocate and authentically represent and empower all students to take part in building a community that fosters unity, transparency, and diversity,” says Hernandez’s profile on the Student Senate website. “My ultimate intention within the Student Senate Cabinet is to reaffirm that all students who choose to attend UNC have a place at UNC to have their voices and experiences heard and validated.”
Some of Hernandez’s goals are to establish and disseminate student body values, create a welcoming culture and to create a community of care and reception.
On a separate note, nine UNC students are running for Councilor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
One of these candidates is Matthew Cowher, a sophomore international affairs major. Cowher is an active member of the Political Science and International Affairs Club.
“One of the reasons I’m running for Student Senate is to connect more with the people from the college,” Cowher said.
According to Cowher, he feels a sense of community with students in general at UNC, but doesn’t feel the community within individual colleges or his major. Cowher also said the Political Science and International Affairs Club is not on the online clubs and organizations list, even though it has been part of UNC for four or five years.
“I think that one thing that our university really lacks on is the clubs and orgs infrastructure,” Cowher said. “If you google ‘UNCO clubs and orgs,’ it’ll pull up a webpage that hasn’t been updated in probably four or five years.”
According to Cowher, the first thing Student Senate should really try to focus on is the mismanagement and lack of infrastructure at UNC for clubs and organizations. Cowher said clubs and organizations is one of the most important things to do as a student, as well as to be a part of that community, but UNC doesn’t have a way to do that at the moment. Cowher also said UNC needs more back and forth communication between Student Senate and the different clubs and organizations.
Another candidate running for councilor is UNC sophomore Annie Berget, an international relations major. Berget’s main goal is to increase UNC’s studies in the Middle East.
“I feel like if I get on Student Senate, I would do that because we do not have a minor for Middle Eastern studies currently, and then we don’t have Arabic as a language,” Berget said.
According to Berget, she is hoping to accomplish these goals by convincing the rest of Student Senate that it is a good idea to increase the Middle Eastern Studies, as well as hoping to get a push from faculty members.
“I’m really hoping that if I can convince the school that they don’t have to spend a lot of money on it, that they’d be willing to do it,” Berget said.
According to Berget, because UNC has a lot of Middle Eastern students, if the school could certify grad students to teach Arabic, UNC wouldn’t have to spend a lot of money. Berget said grad students could get some kind of tuition benefit to teach Arabic classes.
Political science major Joshua Alexander is also running for councilor. Alexander’s platform contains five components. These components include mental health awareness, the housing overflow issue, campus safety, community involvement and more administrative transparency.
“The one I’m advocating for the most is mental health awareness,” Alexander said. “I feel like this college, I feel like UNC could do more to reach out and give support, give more support to people who need it the most. And if I get elected, I promise to advocate as much as possible for the counseling center. I also have a goal in conjunction with the counseling center to open up a mindfulness center.”
According to Alexander, some of the political things at UNC have set the foundation for his goals, such as the housing overflow issue and the administrative transparency, which allows him to continue the progress. This past year, UNC student Drew Heiderscheidt was a councilor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Alexander said people like Heiderscheidt have set the foundation for his goals by bringing up issues, such as the housing overflow.
“I want to accomplish more in one semester than anyone else has done in their whole student government career, Student Senate career,” Alexander said. “I want to be unlike any other student representative. I really want to set myself apart in terms of my, you know, drive, my determination of doing the right thing and getting it done.”
Another position that is open on Student Senate is for councilor for the College of Natural and Health Sciences, for which three students are running, including sophomore biology major Maria Yakoub.
“I’m running because I think I’d be a good candidate for the position,” Yakoub said. “I think I can provide support for students all around campus. Also, I come from a different cultural background so that’s also a value. I also have minors in criminal justice and psychology so it’s not just NHS that I’m involved in.”
According to Yakoub, she wants to accomplish something different for the NHS college by getting involved and listening to other opinions.
Running against Yakoub is UNC sophomore Yessica Elena Rodriguez.
Rodriguez’s platform is to create a sense of leadership and legacy for students in different colleges, to show their commitment towards their goals as well as bring everyone together to accomplish one goal. According to Rodriguez, she wants to get more involved on UNC and spread awareness of the involvement opportunities on campus.
“I’m also on the NHS Student Council, and by involving the different groups that I’m currently in, it would help to bring everyone together,” Rodriguez said. “So, if there’s something that Student Council decides to do, then the college can know likewise. I’m also a part of a mentor program called LEAP that is programmed specifically for first generation minority students. So, a lot of the students that really don’t have much idea of what college is like, since their the first one in their families, would be really beneficial so that they get more of an insight to pursuing their degree as opposed to being lost in the four years that sometimes some kids get stuck in.”
Student Senate elections will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 3 to Thursday, April 5. The Student Senate elections will close at 5 p.m. on April 5. Students can vote in the University Center, or on their URSA accounts under the student tab.
The preliminary results will be announced Friday, April 6 on the Student Senate bulletin board in the Office of Student Life. The deadline for grievances is 5 p.m. on Monday, April 9. If no grievances are filed, the official results will be announced by 5 p.m. on Friday, April 13.