Historic run for presidency

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  • Jamison Whiting (left) and Aaron Friel (right) are running mates

  • Student body presidential candidate Jamison Whiting, No. 29, in action on the gridiron

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Campaigning for student body president begins today, Feb. 8. One of the candidates on the ticket is student athlete Jamison Whiting and his vice-president, Aaron Friel. If Whiting wins the election, he said he will be the first student athlete to become student body president in UNI history.

While the idea of being the first student athlete to become president excites Whiting, he is also confused about why this hasn’t happened before.

“I don’t know why it wasn’t done sooner,” Whiting said. “As with being an athlete, you have a spotlight on you, and it’s given me an opportunity to spread awareness to other things. I think we, as athletes, do that extremely well, and I want to relate that to the entire student body.”

Some UNI students see no problem with having a student athlete as president.

“I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t be president. They’re just as capable as any other person,” said Camille Crossett, sophomore history major.

Whiting, a junior philosophy and political science double major, plays football, while Friel, a senior mathematics and computer science double major, is serving as a Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) senator for the second year. Friel also currently serves as the chair of the Maucker Union Advisory Board, as well as the Organization and Finance Committee, which manages the NISG’s budget.

Whiting discussed how their contrasting backgrounds will benefit them as candidates.

“We want to engage a large group of students, and coming from two different backgrounds helps broaden the pool of students we can represent,” Whiting said. “I really want to help bridge the gap between us and the other side of the university. I really love athletics and academics. Why can’t academics raise the same level of excitement as athletics?”

Hunter Flesch, sophomore elementary and middle level education major, is also running for president alongside his vice-president, Avery Johnson, a sophomore English major.

Flesch currently serves as a senator for NISG and as the chaplain of Sigma Phi Epsilon.  Johnson is also a member of SigEp, is involved with Connecting Alumni to Students (CATS) and works as a career guide in Career Services.

“We want to have a positive impact on this campus, and when we combine our passion for UNI and student life, we feel that running for office will be the perfect opportunity to help students on a larger scale,” Flesch said. “Ultimately, we want to provide students at UNI with the best college experience possible, and running for office will allow us to do that.”

Flesch and Johnson discussed their platform’s goals, which they say are based on their slogan, “Stronger Together.”

“We want to connect with students in order to create effective change,” Flesch said. “The three main issues we are focusing on are mental health, sustainability and student engagement.”

Whiting and Friel say they are taking a relatively unconventional approach to their platform. Instead of riding on a “big-ticket” item, they want to put the focus back on representing the students.

“Our big ticket item is the two of us. We believe we are the best two people for this job, who will represent UNI in a light that brings the spotlight back on NISG,” Whiting said. “We work for the students, and we want to get back to the openness and the community of student government.  We want to be the people that represent them and are there for them, with whatever issues they are dealing with.”

Friel says that Whiting’s experience as an athlete will translate well into their campaign, but he also highlighted his other strengths.

“Jamison really impressed me the first time we met,” Friel said. “Some people have such a bias towards student athletes. But he’s a philosophy and political science double major, president of the [philosophy] club, and has so much past leadership experience from high school. We make an amazing team. We have very diverse interests, which helps us represent as many UNI students as possible.”