By Spenser Hickey
While the presidential election just took place, the OWU equivalent, the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs’ executive election, has less than 24 hours remaining.
Voting is on Friday, Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is done online through students’ J/CX accounts, the same system used for Homecoming Court voting.
Over the past week, the 10 candidates running for president, vice president, treasurer and secretary all sat down individually to discuss their campaigns and their goals if elected.
The elections lead off with a president/vice president ticket, and this year there are three candidates: juniors Ariel Koiman and Anthony Fisher, junior Andrew Paik and sophomore Memme Onwudiwe, and juniors Martin Clark and Tim O’Keeffe.
Koiman and Fisher are running their campaign on the theme of experience, both their experience on WCSA and the experience of the student body, which they believe will be improved if they’re elected.
Koiman said he’s running because he knows “how the administration works and how to get stuff done.”
Both Koiman and Fisher serve on WCSA’s Campus Relations Committee, which Koiman co-chairs. Fisher said Koiman picked him because they’ve been on WCSA since their freshman year and work well together. Koiman said Fisher is a very vocal participant in Campus Relations and is very enthusiastic.
A focal point of the campaign, according to Koiman, is improving mental health on campus. He said that OWU’s counseling service is severely understaffed; last year there were around 50 students left on a waiting list for counseling at the end of the year, which Koiman said was horrendous.
The “About Us” page of OWU’s Counseling Services only lists three members on staff. Koiman said he is considering funding a WCSA initiative to help Counseling Services and emphasizing the desire to improve students’ mental health to the administration.
He said he also hopes to incorporate mental health into the Healthy Bishop initiative, which currently focuses on healthy eating and exercise.
Koiman and Fisher said they hope to better inform the student body on major changes to policies such as the alcohol policy, which is currently being revised, and the recently revised Sexual Misconduct Policy.
“Students need to be more aware of these [changes],” Koiman said. “We want to facilitate that.”
Another goal of the Koiman-Fisher administration would be to increase student awareness of WCSA’s role, something both candidates have done in theirs.
“People are profoundly more cognizant of who we are and what we’re doing,” Koiman said. “However, it still needs a lot of work.”
Koiman is a class of 2014 representative and former public relations officer in the Vietnamese Student Association, while Fisher is a residential representative, scholarship chair of Phi Delta Theta and president of men’s rugby.
Andrew Paik and Memme Onwudiwe said they decided to run after talking to senior Anthony McGuire, current president of WCSA.
“I’m running to help people make differences, and make differences myself,” Paik said. Onwudiwe said he has been active in student government since high school.
One of their priorities, according to Paik, is increasing transparency between WCSA and the student body.
He acknowledged the work done by Koiman, Fisher and other members of WCSA’s Campus Relations Committee, but said not a lot of people know what they actually do.
“I would make sure there’s a lot more communication between the student body and WCSA,” Paik said.
If elected, Paik said he plans to uses his position as WCSA president to ensure the OWU administrators address student concerns.
Both Paik and Onwudiwe said they would put more focus on WCSA members’ attendance, which has been an issue this semester.
“We’re going to be a lot tougher on that,” Onwudiwe said. “We’re going to make sure when people run they’re aware of their duties.”
Paik said he didn’t have other specific policy goals if elected, using the flood in Smith Hall last year as an example of how crises could arise unexpectedly.
Both Paik and Onwudiwe were elected to WCSA last fall. Paik currently serves as interim co-chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, while Onwudiwe is a member of the Student Conduct Committee.
Paik said in his brief time as co-chair he’s worked to expand Beeghly Library’s hours and to create a TEDx-hosting club.
Onwudiwe said that in his term on the Student Conduct Committee, he’s been involved in revisions to the Sexual Misconduct Policy and the Alcohol Policy. He is currently a residential representative, as well as a former member of the soccer team and a Golden Bishop Award winner last year.
Paik is an at-large WCSA representative, a member of the both the Student Honors Board and the Economics Student Board, treasurer of Pre-Law Club and secretary of Phi Delta Gamma.
Clark and O’Keeffe made sophomores Maria Urbina and Lauren Holler, candidates for secretary and treasurer respectively, part of their campaign, though they are voted for separately.
Ordinarily candidates for secretary and treasurer run independently; Clark and O’Keeffe said Urbina and Holler’s inclusion was a first in campaign history.
The decision was motivated by their experience together; Clark is the current WCSA secretary, O’Keeffe and Holler are co-chairs of the Residential Affairs Committee, and Urbina is co-chair of Campus Relations.
Clark said their time on the Executive Committee has made them “almost like a family.”
O’Keeffe added that they are familiar with each other and the administration, and thus can be much more productive than a new set of leaders.
One of Clark and O’Keeffe’s goals would be increasing WCSA’s role in the community and the community’s awareness of what WCSA does.
O’Keeffe said he wanted WCSA representatives to attend more events on campus while wearing WCSA sweatshirts.
Clark said he planned to allow concerned students to meet with WCSA members during set hours in their office on the second floor of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center.
They said they plan to increase the number of student organizations with non-voting members on WCSA: currently the Student Union on Black Awareness, Campus Programming Board and Council of Fraternity Presidents are the only clubs that do.
O’Keeffe said they would also add clubs “with a really big impact on campus”, such as PRIDE, the Pan-Hellenic Council and Environment & Wildlife club, to get a diverse selection of at-large members on WCSA.
While Clark isn’t on a committee, O’Keeffe said his Residential Affairs Committee has addressed issues relating to sustainability, cleanliness, and increasing food options.
Both Clark and O’Keeffe have been on WCSA for two years and are members of Sigma Chi; Clark is the new member educator and O’Keeffe is on the Executive Board.
Clark is also treasurer of OWU’s Marketing Group and a member of Black Men of the Future. O’Keeffe is president of both ProgressOWU and HaitiOWU, a member of President’s Club, and a Residential Assistant in Bashford Hall.
Urbina is the only candidate running for WCSA secretary.
She said her goals are making sure all members attend meetings and taking detailed minutes to keep everyone informed. Though she is running unopposed, she said she will still do as much campaigning as possible for her running mates.
While she is guaranteed to win her election, she said she hopes the other three members are elected.
She said she thinks the Executive Committee will be most effective if it is a cohesive group.
Urbina is a co-chair of the Campus Relations Committee, and has done work with tabling, creating Facebook events and coordinating a student government summit with other colleges to be held at OWU later this month.
The treasurer election also has three candidates: sophomore Lauren Holler, and juniors Saar Rajpuria and Peter Reveles.
Holler’s position on the Clark-O’Keeffe ticket led the other two candidates to seek their own spots.
Rajpuria was endorsed by the Paik-Onwudiwe campaign, while Reveles said on his campaign’s Facebook page that he supported Koiman and Fisher.
Holler, an economics management minor and the only current WCSA member running, said she is running because she has necessary skills to be successful.
If elected treasurer, she, along with the Budget Committee, would oversee allocation of Student Activity Fee funds to registered clubs and organizations that request them.
Holler hopes to make Campus Programming Board a co-organization of WCSA rather than a separate club, a common practice at similar-sized colleges that would make the funding process more fluid and streamlined.
As the current co-chair of Residential Affairs, Holler said she has worked closely with O’Keeffe on projects related to sustainability, Public Safety and Chartwells.
Rajpuria said he decided to run for treasurer because he has experience as treasurer of other clubs.
He said that while he’s not in WCSA, he has experience filling out budget requests to them, so he plans to make the request process more student-oriented.
While Holler has WCSA experience, Rajpuria said what matters is “the right experience,” knowing budgeting and finance. He said he thinks voters will see that he has it.
Rajpuria said he is an economics management major and accounting minor, treasurer of Phi Gamma Delta, a member of the International Economics Honor Society and a member of the Economics Student Board.
Peter Reveles said he is running for treasurer to be more involved. While he admits he isn’t as familiar with WCSA, he said he could really excel at it.
“I think I completely stand a chance against someone who has [WCSA] experience,” Reveles said. “I may not have experience but I am passionate and willing to do the work.”
Reveles is the vice president of the Paranormal Research Society, and he said being in that role motivated him to seek office in WCSA. He said he’s also worked as an instructor teaching iPhone programming to high school students.
While WCSA holds no pre-election polls, levels of Facebook support may suggest the winners, as each candidate used Facebook as a tool to inform voters and rally support.
As of 5p.m. Monday, the Clark-O’Keeffe campaign event had the most support, with 198 people listed as attending, to the Paik-Onwudiwe page’s 84 likes and the Koiman-Fisher event’s 32 attendees.
Due to Holler’s place on the Clark ticket, she leads the treasurer race in Facebook support, while Rajpuria’s page has 51 likes and Reveles’s has 32.