Staff Editorial: The SU candidates: Considering the pros and cons of their platforms

The Student Life Editorial Board usually releases an endorsement of the Student Union candidates with each election. However, this term we were unable to meet individually with each candidate or moderate their debate. That being said, we based our candidate analysis based on the information that each candidate had publicly provided. We as an Editorial Board read through and critically discussed each candidate’s platforms.

SU President

Ranen Miao – Freshman
Miao’s experience is extensive and includes serving as the president of the First Year Class Council, Waycrow Dorm President and a member of the University Student Affairs Advisory Board to the Chancellor.

In his platform, Miao says that if elected, he will increase mental health funding, expand access to menstrual products, promote safe sex, support Title Mine’s demands and partner with sororities and fraternities to work towards Title IX reform. Miao wants to increase SPB programs, expand access to subsidies for low-income students to participate in social events and design social events and he also hopes to break down the divide between SU exec members and the student body. Miao advocates for free laundry and for subsidizing low socioeconomic students for textbooks as well as for sorority and fraternity participation. He wants to join the demand for divestment, the Close the Workhouse movement, the fight for $15, work on implementing an anti-racism task force, expanding student healthcare benefits to include PrEP and hormone therapy and advocate to make all buildings ADA accessible, amongst other policies.

Miao is clearly aware of issues facing diverse groups of students on campus and aims to thoughtfully address these challenges. His commitment to many different issues is admirable, however, it seems as though he is aiming to tackle far too many issues without specific plans to do so. With such a large agenda, we wonder what Miao will actually gear his focus towards and what he will be able to accomplish as SU President. Additionally, Miao is currently a member of an a cappella group and several advocacy groups. While we commend his involvement, we are concerned about his ability to commit deeply to a cause and devote appropriate time to this essential role.

Nkemjika Emenike – Freshman
Emenike has served as the Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair during her time on SU. She is running for SU President on a campaign of increasing advocacy and collaboration within SU and the student body. Her main goals are to make the campus equitable by increasing accessibility for low-SES students; streamlining mental health services on campus by reforming Habif, publicizing mental health resources and decreasing stigma; and prioritizing safety on campus through transparency and communication between WUPD and the student body. We appreciate that she has listed specific plans to make her goals achievable. However, we are concerned that—although impressive—her commitment to her other extracurriculars will interfere with the duties of SU President.

Matthew Kim – Sophomore
Kim has served on SU Senate and as Freshman Class President during his time at Wash. U. He is running for SU president with a campaign focused on decreasing the divide between SU and the general student body, or as Kim refers to them throughout his campaign, “the People.”

Throughout Kim’s campaign, a sparkling personality is apparent. The language is personal, friendly and all in all, makes for a pleasant read. The Student Life Editorial Board admires Kim’s dedication to bridging the gap between SU and the people. This divide is very real and does need to be lessened in order for SU to perform at its highest ability. However, Kim does not touch on much else beyond engagement, and this is concerning. He does address the fact that he doesn’t discuss other issues, saying that while he has not laid out specific plans to tackle such issues, he does care deeply for problems the campus faces, believing that his vision for the overall attitude of SU will allow for necessary reforms to be made. Unfortunately, we as an Editorial Board are not comfortable that vision is enough to enact necessary change and would have preferred to see some set action plans instead of hitting them in a more generalized closing statement.

VP Engagement

Madhulika Kastury – Junior
Kastury has been a Treasury representative since her first year. We first would like to commend Kastury for providing an expansive and accessible campaign platform. Whereas Kalra has focused mainly on his experience in Student Union, Kastury has placed much more emphasis on ideas and plans. Her campaign has focused mainly on a list of seven key initiatives that ranges from fossil fuel divestment to increasing mental health resources on campus. Kastury has thus emphasized a goal of advocating for change within the University’s “bureaucratic institutions,” but she has not provided much information about how her experience qualifies her to address the issues she observes.

However, the ideas she posits are sound, and her extensive platform demonstrates that she is in touch with the student body. Some plans are quite vague, but Kastury appears to have a thorough understanding of Student Union’s role in campus advocacy. While it is clear that she would be an active voice for Wash. U. students, we would like to see Kastury speak more to her personal qualifications in the waning hours of the campaign.

Arjan Kalra – Sophomore
Kalra previously held the title of Budget Committee Chair. He managed $1.55 million in the Student Activities fund and has worked one-on-one with student group leaders. He has worked on advocacy projects in and out of SU.

Kalra is running his platform on increasing connection between SU and the student body. He wants to support students and work more closely with them. While this is a good goal, his stance of working “with” rather than “for” the students comes off a little vague; he doesn’t mention specific ideas or actions he’s planning to take. His platform of creating a stronger relationship with the community is good, but we wonder if he has the plans to be able to do so.

Executive VP

Fadel Alkilani – Sophomore
Fadel Alkilani has had a large amount of experience with SU, having previously been on the Treasury and Budget Committee, Constitutional Task Force, Academic Affairs Committee, Engineering School Council and the Religious Accommodations Project. However, that is not to say that Alkilani’s experience within SU has not been without controversy. He is currently running for the position of Executive VP, with plans of increasing sustainability, improving campus-wide religious accomodations and increasing transparency through improved archiving, amongst improving other policies. We as an Editorial Board, however, find concern in the lack of specificity provided by Alkilani’s platform ideas, as they appear vague; we wonder what ideas Alkilani has in place that would specifically enforce his proposed policies.

Anne He – Sophomore
Anne He has served as the Academic Affairs Committee Chair in SU Senate, having overseen the add/drop deadline project, worked on a four year advisor-matching survey project, fought for a non-STEM Career Fair and pushed for better religious accommodations.

She is currently running for the position of Executive VP, with plans of recruiting more students into SU, building a relationship with the new Provost and “reconnect[ing] entities within SU that have become distant in order to centralize the impact we’re making.” However, we again take concern with her lack of specificity provided on her platform ideas and wonder how she intends to enact and enforce her proposed policies.

VP Finance

Alexa Jochims – Junior
Alexa Jochims is running for Vice President of Finance unopposed. She has served on Treasury for the past two and a half years as Speaker of the Treasury for one semester and serving as the Treasury’s Activities Committee Chair for one year. According to her campaign, Jochims has spent her time in SU working to make the organization less hierarchical, increase communication throughout SU, increase transparency between SU and the student body and increase student and student group input in SU.

Jochims’ goals as VP Finance seem in line with her history on Treasury. She knows SU’s budget allocation process and has a history of approachability in the SU office. Although Jochims is running unopposed, we still wish she had provided more details as to how she plans to implement change within SU.

VP Programming

Charlotte Pohl – Junior
Charlotte Pohl is running unopposed for her third consecutive term as Vice President of Programming. Pohl, in her past terms as VP Programming, worked to solidify SU’s Game Day programming, introduced Cultural Happy Hours, presided over the Social Programming Board’s restructuring, served as SPB’s president and presided over a restructuring of the process to select Trending Topics speakers.

In her third term as VP Programming, Pohl wants to continue her ongoing projects, specifically seeing through SU’s restructuring, the expansion of Cultural Happy Hours and the continuation of Game Days, specifically focused on women’s sports. Pohl also wants to host semesterly programming workshops for student groups and co-host more programs with various student groups. Although Pohl is not without controversy within SU, she has a long history of doing the job of VP Programming successfully.

The process of actually finding all of the candidates’ platforms was far harder than it needed to be. In past years, SU has released a ballot preview that listed the candidates and allowed for students to more easily find the candidates’ platforms by searching for them online. While this did not occur with this election, we encourage SU to make information more accessible in the future.

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