Former NISG President Katie Evans reviews candidates’ platforms

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Former NISG President Katie Evans reviews candidates’ platforms

Vice Presidential candidate Danielle Massey (left) and presidential candidate Maggie Miller (right). Evans favors Miller and Massey's platform.

Vice Presidential candidate Danielle Massey (left) and presidential candidate Maggie Miller (right). Evans favors Miller and Massey's platform.

JACOB MADDEN

Vice Presidential candidate Danielle Massey (left) and presidential candidate Maggie Miller (right). Evans favors Miller and Massey's platform.

JACOB MADDEN

JACOB MADDEN

Vice Presidential candidate Danielle Massey (left) and presidential candidate Maggie Miller (right). Evans favors Miller and Massey's platform.

Katie Evans, Guest Columnist

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Aaron Friel: Two UNI alums have graciously offered to write reviews of the candidate platforms this year. Katie Evans is a Class of 2016 graduate with degrees in philosophy and political science. As an alum of Northern Iowa Student Government, she served as a Senator and won her campaign for President of the Student Body in the 2015 election. In her roles as an NISG Senator and President, she has served on and chaired myriad committees. Jamal White and Tristan Bernhard’s campaign (“Jamal-Tristan”) platform is available at jtfornisg.com. Maggie Miller and Danielle Massey’s campaign (“Miller & Massey”) platform is available at millermassey.com.

Disclosure: Evans was roommates for one semester with Danielle Massey, one of the candidates this year, as stated later in her platform review.

A few days ago, I was asked to provide commentary on this year’s student government candidates’ platforms. Having served in the role of NISG president for the 2015-16 year, I have a good idea of what issues are facing students and the feasibility of projects. When I started my own student government campaign, I thought it was all about the experience one had and the number of years in student government. It isn’t.

What is more important is attitude, work ethic and vision. Each ticket has experience and good ideas. Instead of going through each platform bit by bit, I’ll briefly highlight some important initiatives and issues that they discuss. On a side note, presentation can be valued more than content. In other words, each candidate should have spent a lot of time editing their platforms for clarity, consistency and accuracy; these descriptors will be similarly important when writing proposals for administration, speeches for the legislature and answering questions from reporters.

Both tickets mention several of the same issues, such as gender inclusive housing. This is an issue that has been discussed for years and is rarely a priority. To be successful, this needs full support of administration and the Department of Residence staff. Further, it is not enough to just have resources/spaces available, they must be promoted to students.

Both candidates address diversity and inclusivity. I’ve heard not enough headway has been made on the Diversity Exit Requirement proposal, but I like that Maggie and Danielle are still trying to keep it alive. Comprehensive diversity education is key to creating a more inclusive environment. One-time diversity training is not enough. If the exit requirement is not feasible, Jamal and Tristan’s idea for a diversity certificate is a good alternative, but it is still just that — an alternative. An additional idea that has seen some success at other universities is a first-year course on diversity, among other topics.

Another important issue that needs continued support from NISG is resources provide to victims of gender-based violence. Last year, there was a substantial desire for more accessible victim advocate services. Jamal and Tristan’s idea to expand bystander prevention training in the residence halls is good, but not enough. Maggie and Danielle recognize that existing resources need to be looked into.

I wish Danielle and Maggie would have addressed another key issue on campus – Sustainability. Next year, there will be an increase in Green student services funding, and Eric O’Brien and the Office of Sustainability have always been great partners for NISG. Jamal and Tristan would like to expand the bike-share program, which has been a pretty successful NISG initiative in the past.

Both tickets agree about a few other initiatives such as a 24-hour student center. As a late night studier myself, I certainly understand the desire to have a safe, accessible location for studying; however, I want to encourage both tickets to spend the time looking at more than just the Maucker Union for this. One increasingly popular alternative is the library and Chris Cox is a great supporter of NISG. He was willing to do some pilot programs to see how many students would take advantage of additional hours. We had talked about extending the hours until 2:00AM to start with. I hope these conversations have continued in the last year.

They also address mental health issues on campus. One distinction is that Maggie and Danielle hope to extend the counseling center to have evening hours and the Jamal and Tristan team want to have some time set aside for walk-ins to decrease the amount of time students are waiting. Why not work toward both of these initiatives? I encourage both to not forget about psychiatric care and continue to ensure that this mental health resources is also accessible. Mental health awareness is an ongoing, consistent task.

A clear avenue that I see Maggie and Danielle as the superior candidates is in regards to state and local politics. Both have had years of building relationships with legislators and working with the city council. One doesn’t realize how important this political work can be until there is a city council ordinance that affects student rental properties or a mental health bill at the state legislature. On other issues, experience is not as important, but in this truly controversial political climate, practiced advocates for UNI will have an advantage.

After considering these issues and reading through each of the platforms, I think both tickets have good ideas; however, Maggie’s and Danielle’s ideas are more polished and come from years of supporting students on behalf of student government. I should know, I was with Danielle at her first External Relations Committee Meeting. In full disclosure, Danielle and I were in several student organizations together and did live together for one semester. If anything, this just means I know exactly what her work ethic is and where her passions lie: with students. Either way, I wish both teams the best of luck and will be available to assist whichever team comes out victorious.

 

 

 

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