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Live Blog: Candidate Q&A

March 23, 2011

Candidates for ASM Student Council and SSFC are taking questions from students tonight in 4151 Grainger Hall. There are about 25 candidates here and about 20 people in the audience.

There are 29 Council seats and five SSFC seats up for election. More information about the Spring Election is here. Information about the candidates is here.

Candidates have been divided into groups that will answer predetermined questions, and each candidate will be able to answer three questions. Then the candidates will take questions from the audience.

7:05 PM

Question: How will you ensure students work together?

  • Mitch: Everyone will have different opinions, but we can talk about things until things until they work out.
  • Tom Templeton: It’s about developing respect for your colleagues, so it helps to be working together outside of formal meetings and building relationships.
  • Olivia W: It’s important to really get to know the people you work with. Opinions and criticisms are important because they let everyone see different perspectives.
  • Sam Seering: We have to cultivate trust and respect by working on issues that are fairly agreed upon first. So when you come to a controversial issue, you have the ability to work through those issues together.

Question: What are the biggest challenges this university faces?

  • Jonny K: I think the biggest challenges are different funding mechanisms coming through the university. I think having students express all their viewpoints and concerns is huge. Right now I feel like students don’t have a great mechanism to share their opinions. Student Council should be that mechanism.
  • Hannah S: In addition to funding issues, a challenge is getting students to realize that these are important and work together on them.
  • Dan S: I think the biggest challenge is getting students aware of the challenges and voicing their opinions.
  • Germain L: Funding and fiscal issues are always important, but we should reach out to people and get them involved and see how they think we should resolve this.
  • Andy L: Badger Partnership and state budget are big issues. Outreach with the students and the community as a whole would be a good issue, making sure we’re on common ground with the city and community.
  • Zach Ivins: Two main problems are inclusivity and student participation. To help inclusivity we can create an open environment where students can talk and not feel like they will be judged. Student participation goes hand in hand with this. Once people feel comfortable they’ll start joining committees. We have to make sure shared governance is strong.

Question: How do you plan to improve diversity efforts on this campus?

  • Katie L: We need to get out there and I think social media is a big way to get people together, reaching out to different communities to get them to come together.
  • Kayla L: Diversity’s a huge issue on this campus, and something that Madison has prided itself on but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. We need to create a more inclusive environment where people can talk about their identity and we can have learning exchanges.
  • Leland P: We need to make sure there is financial aid to make up tuition increases to make sure everyone can attend UW-Madison.
  • Nikolas M: If I’m elected on ASM, I’m going to go into every student group space including students of color, going into safe spaces and getting our name out there.
  • Michelle J: We need to make sure our university is accessible by increasing financial aid. I also want to physically go out to meet with different groups. On ASM, yes media is important, but personal relationships are really important. As an ASM representative, that’s really important for us to do.

Question: If elected, what kind of change do you hope to create, and how would you go about doing this?

  • Allie G: I think ASM does a pretty good job of giving students services, but ASM could also empower students and make sure that students are involved in decision-making at all institutional levels. I would help make a better outreach plan and make sure to further engage students.
  • Dan Posca: I think all of ASM should be working to tackle diversity issues, and including student groups in everything ASM does and getting a wider range or perspectives to bring back to ASM and incorporate in decision making. I think ASM needs to become more open– not just having office hours but actually going to other group meetings.
  • Amir F: If I was elected, I would use the power to change some of the bigger problems facing this university– diversity, safety, scholarship, tuition, but also getting people not involved in ASM to work with ASM.
  • Beth Huang: I agree with what has been said about increasing outreach– going to students instead of having students coming to us. I also think we need to bolster shared governance on this campus. Students need to go to the faculty senate to foster shared governance committees. We need to be able to start our own committees, like a sustainability committee. Also we need to use shared governance processes in a way that isn’t simply advisory.
  • Bryan P: The most important thing is to make students believe they have a stake in the future of the university, get students involved and get their students out there. Have hearings, petitions, anything that can make students feel like they can have an impact.

Next up: SSFC Candidates

Question: Why do you want to be a member of the SSFC?

  • Dan T: Right now I feel like the body lacks communication with the GSSF groups it provides funding to. I think there’s been a wasted opportunity with the accountability liaison to improve this communication. We need to fight as a body for more ability to decide non-allocables.
  • Ellie R: I think there’s a lack of communication with the students about where there seg fees go. I want to get that communication going because I think it’s important for students to know.
  • Sarah Neibart: I realize the responsibility of knowing where my seg fees go and I want to make sure there going to the right places for all students.
  • Megan J: Most people don’t know where seg fees are going and I want to make students aware of where they are going.
  • Matt Manes: I don’t really care if people know about where their seg fees go, but I want to work to keep the bill as absolutely low as possible.
  • Daniel G: I agree with Matt– the information is available for students. My reason for running is that we have the power to lower seg fees.
  • Joe V.: I agree with Matt and Daniel– the info is available but for years the number has just been going up and I would like to do my part to turn the table and bring it back down.
  • Tito: My main purpose is to make sure we are distributing the money well and make sure student orgs are getting the money they need to benefit the students.

Now back to Council candidates.

Question: What role do you think ASM plays on this campus?

  • Nneka: When I become a special student, I won’t be able to register until after everyone else. Another thing is financial aid is not readily accessible for all special students and I think ASM needs to do something about these concerns so students know we’re here for them.
  • Mitch: I really have no idea. I get the SSFC part, but as for the rest of it, as someone who spends a good amount of time walking around campus, have no idea what you guys do, which is why I’m running. I’d like to get inside and see how the sausage is made, if the sausage is in fact made.
  • Sam Seering: We should exert our full power of our control of seg fees and reign in the allocable and non-allocables on this campus. We need to use shared gov to work with admin and push policies that are good for students, like attendance policies and alcohol safety via education.
  • Olivia: I would have to say Mitch brings up a good point. A lot of people don’t know what ASM does. I always saw emails from ASM but I didn’t see people from ASM. I had to do a lot of reading to figure it out. I think ASM should be a bridge between administration and the student body.
  • Tom Templeton: I generally take a more limited scope of the what the role is– advocacy, service and membership. Advocacy being lobbying on behalf of students, services being through SSFC, and membership being through shared governance.

Question: How much impact do you think you will have as a potential student leader?

  • Zach: By myself, I can’t do much. But by outreaching to students I can get students behind me and make a bigger impact.
  • Germain: We need to get the opinions of people we’re representing and represent people’s opinions and try to implement stuff they want.
  • Andy L: I’m a university special student, and I think that will help give me another perspective. Having served on non-profit boards of directors, that helps give me experience to give more of an impact.
  • Hannah S: I think I have impact on Council in terms of ideas of opinions I bring. Council has the potential to make a huge impact as long as students are aware of what we’re doing.
  • Johnny K: I already am a proven student leader– have been since middle school. I would like to continue that and bring my expertise to ASM. I’d like to recruit people within the L&S school and bring them to the table to discuss issues on campus.
  • Dan S: I can promise to attend every meeting, which is saying a lot. I have my feet set in college and I intend to reach my goals. I want to educate students so they’re all on the same page in terms of issues and policy.

Question: What qualities do you think a candidate needs in order

  • Kayla L: To have courage in convictions but to also compromise with other students, and to have compassion.
  • Leland: You need to strike a balance between standing up for what you believe in and working with others.
  • Michelle J: I’ve heard a lot of people say students just don’t care, and I think that’s selling students short. As ASM, we should make them realize why they should care. What’s been intimidating for me is all these confusing convoluted explanations of ASM. We need to translate this to what makes sense to students. Instead of expecting students to come to spaces like open forum, we need to go to spaces where they feel comfortable.
  • Nikolas: ASM needs to be a sort of chameleon, exersizing people skills and working hard outside of the caucus room to get to know people, and then coming into the caucus room and putting their beliefs into action.
  • Katie L: Knowledge and communication.

Question: How would you explain ASM to a fellow student uninvolved in student government?

  • Dan Posca: This is something I’ve been trying to do for four years. The best way I can describe it is that we are your version of government. You elect us to work with faculty and staff to represent your interests, uphold shared governance and make sure your money is not wasted on campus.
  • Allie G: I think ASM is supposed to empower students across campus on all campus issues that students are affected by– making sure they have the same access ASM is given to administration, to the funding streams that SSFC deals with. We are elected to lead these things, but it’s important we’re not just playing government but empowering students and going to student groups.
  • Beth Huang: I think ASM is students’ institutional voice on campus. As the most powerful student organization on campus, we have the ear of a lot of people, at the university, state, city and federal level. It’s really important for us to represent the diversity of opinions that students feel. It’s a great outlet for students to plug into to voice how they feel. It is your voice.
  • Amir: I would tell students that ASM is the premiere student advocacy group on campus, run for and by students. If they have a pressing issue, they should go to the SAC, talk to a representative and have their voice heard.
  • Bryan: We’re here to make sure the student voice is heard. We’re not just running to see our name in the paper; we’re running because we want to make campus better for everyone.

Back to the SSFC group:

Question: With the current economy and tuition potentially rising, what is your view on seg fees?

  • Sarah N: Every year tuition has the potential to rise, and we always want to lower seg fees but it’s not always realistic. We have to make sure student organizations get the money they need when their services help all students.
  • Megan J: It’s not always possible to lower costs, but sometimes they’re out of our control so we have to have realistic goals. We need to keep funding for needed services like tutoring and safety.
  • Daniel G: My primary objective is cutting seg fees. I don’t buy a line that we can’t lower seg fees. I’m going into this to find a way to cut seg fees.
  • Matt Manes: We’re all screwed. They’re going up, and they’re going up by a lot and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it unless you want to go knocking down buildings.
  • Joe V: My goal is to determine what students really do use, and if you have to pay for it, know what you’re paying for and use it.
  • Ellie: I think there are things we are paying for that we could cut. Especially with tuition rising, seg fees need to be capped. Students pay three times as much for bus passes as they do for student orgs, which I think is ridiculous. I think we should look at things students aren’t using and cut those things.
  • Tito: I want to look at the seg fees we pay and see where they’re going and make sure they’re benefiting students.
  • Dan T: Seg fees rise because of the non-allocable budget, and because SSFC has not fought for the ability to control this budget. It’s unfair to blame GSSF groups for rising seg fees.

Now time for audience questions. SSFC candidates first.

Question: With budget cuts and rising prices, how will you provide services to students while keeping spending low?

  • Ellie: We have to figure out what organizations and services students are using the most and they should get the bulk of the budget.
  • Megan: The lesser services might need to get cut to keep seg fees low.
  • Matt Manes: In terms of services provided, personally I’m spearheading the creation of a student legal services center.
  • Tito: We need to review the importance of what we do spend.
  • Joe V: We need to figure out how to get the most services we can out of the least amount of money.
  • Daniel T: It would be unwise to cut funding to GSSF groups because that’s such a small portion of seg fees.
  • Sarah: I would not recommend cutting GSSF funding. I think we need to put pressure on the non-allocables to be more transparent, like the Union.
  • Daniel G: We have to go into this with the intention to cut in the face of tuition hikes.

Back to Council candidates.

Question: How do you plan to improve outreach to students?

  • Sam Seering: Getting into contact with individual students and student organizations. Go to the unions and dorms and talk about what ASM is doing.
  • Nneka: Outreach means face to face. It doesn’t mean emails. I’ve got three ways: 1. Virtual office hours. 2. Streaming ASM Council meetings. Her time ran out.
  • Olivia: I think student involvement ASM will rise through face to face contact with people. People don’t read emails.
  • Mitch: You could try to talk to people when they’re trying to do things, but that’s annoying. If you go the Jehovah Witness route talk directly to people who are involved with student orgs, they’re more likely to give a shit and listen to what you have to say.

What are the most important effects of the Badger Partnership?

  • Zach: It will give us a lot more freedom, but we have to make sure students are heard in the process and fight to make sure students have a voice on decision-making committees.
  • Dan S: I think the flexibility will keep UW competitive in what it does. What students want is as much as they can get, and the Badger Partnership can hopefully do that.
  • Germain: We could be a strong university with this, with more flexibility. We can get the name of the university out there and get diversity here.
  • Andy L: I have mixed feelings. One concern I have is that it could create two separate budgets for the UW System and the school. The flexibility is the best thing about it.
  • Johnny K: I think Madison has a lot of unique needs compared to the rest of the system and we need to remain competitive in the Big Ten. We need to recruit the best and the new bp will allow us to do that.
  • Hannah: It will keep us competitive, keep us on top and attract students. We just need to make sure we can be part of the decision-making process.

Question: What are the opinions of the student body and what do we want?

  • Leland: Students are involved, progressive and diverse.
  • Michelle J: I don’t know all the ideas of the student body, and that’s why I need to go out and here them. We need to recognize that we each have one unique perspective and we need to go out and listen to students. I think we need to have mandatory diversity training for ASM.
  • Katie: Every single person wants something different, and we need to communicate with each other through open forums.
  • Kayla L: The beauty of this university is there’s ideas across the spectrum. Students all want what’s best for their education.
  • Nikolas: I think a lot of the student body is pretty apathetic to what’s happening. They just want to get their degree and get out of here. The idea is to channel those that are in to creating change and bringing those students to the table.

Question: With the high likelihood that Madison will become a public authority, ASM will have more ability to change university policy. What two policy changes would you push for at this university?

  • Andy: I would push for student involvement in the community. I worked on the Badger Volunteer program and that was a great way to see what problems are facing the university.
  • Allie: One is making sure financial aid increases with any tuition increases and make sure sticker shock isn’t turning people away. We also need to make sure there is more student representatives on the board of trustees.
  • Dan Posca: Increase financial aid, and increase shared governance. I think shared gov is more attainable and I think this is a great opportunity to get more shared gov power.
  • Beth Huang: Financial aid and student representation. We do have an opportunity with this restructuring to get greater student representation and expand shared gov to a higher level.
  • Bryan: We’re all here to get an education so the two most important things are keeping education affordable, and keeping up the quality of the education that you can use for the rest of your life.

Q&A over. Time to try the new Babcock Ice Cream flavor: ASM Student GovernMint.

To find the full names of the candidates, check out the candidate matrix.

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