Inside the minds of your Student Association executive candidates

This year contains a tightly contested race for the presidential office, while all other offices remain uncontested.

As Student Association elections approach, the candidates for the executive officer positions were contacted for an interview via email.

This semester, only the presidential office is contested, while the candidates running for vice president, treasurer and secretary remain unopposed. The candidates for the presidential position are Adrian Pizano, Athan Lau, Jennifer Fierro, Josie Cooley and Sepand Ashanayi. The candidate for vice president is Carter Dierlam. The candidate for secretary is Michael Combs, and the candidate for treasurer is Ben Prugh.

Josie Cooley is running for Student Association president and is a junior accounting major. Cooley states she “would like to see more collaboration with admissions and in each of the colleges.” She also would like to hear more student voices through members of SA, stating, “We are organizations for students by students.” Cooley has been a Student Association member for three years and says, “Through trial and error, we have found things that work and things that don’t,” to answer the question she asks before planning every event: “What would students want to see?” She believes that measuring success for her initiative of making “campus a better place for students” could be tough as they would only be seen “from a poll/survey or just word of mouth.” Cooley believes that “any type of action aimed at bettering the atmosphere on campus is good action whether it can be easily measured or not.” As a cabineteer, the most frequent issue Cooley hears is, “There are not enough t-shirts at events.” In order to combat this problem, Cooley would like to “[work] closely with the treasurer and [make] separate budgets for shirts, sweatshirts, etc.” Her belief in “collaboration and teamwork when it comes to solving solutions” is evident.

Jennifer Fierro is a junior biology major on the pre-med track who is running for Student Association president because she is “committed to serving students and making their experience at the university better.” Her main goal as Student Association president is to “be a good representative” and maintain transparency. She believes in keeping an open mind for “accurately representing each student on campus.” She is currently a DEI committee member for Student Association and a peer mentor. “Both of these positions have really helped me grow my love for TU and its people as I got to help plan events and work closely with first year students to guide them and show them why our university is such a special place,” states Fierro. She wants to ensure “students feel heard,” and let them know that their “opinions and voices have a place at TU.” Fierro would measure success for her initiatives by setting goals and keeping a ”focus on how the student body is doing as a whole. What’s being done that should be changed? What are we excelling at that we should keep focusing on?” A major issue that has been presented to Fierro is advertisement. “Advisement is a vital part of student success. Unfortunately, without the proper support from advisors, students often find themselves lost and having to navigate through college on their own. I would like to find a way to have proper advising methods in order to ensure each student feels supported throughout their time as a student at the university.”

Athan Lau is running for Student Association president as a junior completing a double major in psychology and management with a specialization in human resources. A key issue that he would like to address in Student Association is the gap between the student body and Student Association. Lau believes “many students are aware that SA exists, but aren’t sure of what we do, especially with the resources we provide for the student organizations.” Lau has held a variety of positions during his time at TU including Senator-At-Large and Secretary of the Government Operations Committee as well as member of the faith-based & athletics FRSC, Asian American Student Association and Badminton Club. These experiences taught him the necessary skills to work in a team and initiate projects as a leader. If Lau were to become president, he would measure his success in the role by conducting a review session after events to determine areas of improvement and what went well. “Similar to how I led the Lunar New Year Festival, I conducted a review session to discuss what went well and areas of improvements. By working with a team to debrief the event, we were able to measure our achievements and take accountability for our successes and failures,” says Lau. He considers lack of communication and transparency a major issue he has heard in the student body. Additionally, he believes that there is difficulty navigating resources for student organizations and thinks these issues could be solved through developing a student government that is adaptable to change.

Adrian Pizano is running for Student Association president as a sophomore political science major. His principal goal would be to “fix the transparency between SA and the Student Body.” He wants to “diversify SA” and thinks that “most of the time, students only think of cabinet or senate as single units.” Pizano would like to “better connect the branches within SA” and “better manage these connections to create a better organization.” Pizano served as a Senator last year and has “worked on bills that have been enforced on campus” giving him experience in legislation. Currently, he serves as Director of Senate Operations and Resident Assistant in John Mabee Hall. He also served two terms as his high school’s Student Body President. These organizations have given him “the opportunity to work with different students on campus, host events and gain leadership skills.” As Student Association President, Pizano would measure success based on “the quality of events and making sure different students have different options for separate interests” as well as giving recognition when SA members have put in good work. One of the issues most frequently brought to Pizano’s attention by the student body is the need for a fall break. “Lots of students are drained at the end of October, and simply need a break,” he says. As TU does not have a fall break, Pizano wants to put his best effort in getting one. Another issue being brought to his attention is funding in student organizations, arguing that “the new funding process this year was a step in the right direction, but I want to expand on that. I want people to get funding for their events in a timely manner without worry that costs will not be covered.”

Michael Combs is a freshman majoring in chemical engineering on the pre-med track with a minor in biomedical engineering. He is the only candidate running for secretary in this year’s executive election. “One of the issues I would like to address within SA is the disconnect between the whole student body and the SA staff. Much of the student body know a small amount about SA but does not truly know what we do,” he states. Combs says, “My past leadership experiences can help me in the position of student body secretary by preparing me to manage the many tasks that come with the position. I can leverage my past experiences to help organize events, manage budgets, and collaborate with other student leaders. Additionally, I can use my experience to help build relationships with other student organizations and members of the student body, strengthening my ability to serve as an effective secretary.” He seeks to measure success of his initiatives by “focusing on the impact that they have on the student body.” Combs would like to “assess the feedback from surveys and focus groups, look at the attendance and engagement of my initiatives and measure the overall satisfaction of the student body with the initiatives.”

The Collegian reached out to Sepand Ashanayi and Ben Prugh for interviews via email, but neither responded.

This year, the executive election will begin on Feb. 8 and close on Feb. 10. Students can vote on Harvey by pulling up organizations, then click on Student Association, where a vote option will be presented.

Post Author: Adam Porterie