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Student Senate candidates debated how they would represent their academic college

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Four of the 14 total candidates to represent academic colleges in next year’s Student Senate talked Friday about the challenges facing their colleges and what being representatives would mean.

One candidate from the Impact ticket attended the forum while three candidates from UNITE were in attendance. A statement from UNITE candidates said several of the candidates couldn’t attend due to Easter, family funerals and D.C. Networking Week.

Kirby Flowers, from UNITE ticket, and Austin Walsh, from Impact, are both hoping to represent the College of Fine Arts as senators. However, they do not have the same views on what is needed as the leader.

Flowers said the biggest problem the college faces is a lack of diversity education and the lack of accessibility in college buildings like Glidden Hall and Siegfried Hall. Walsh, however, said students struggling to graduate in four years is a bigger problem. He suggested that students should be able to schedule classes a full year in advance to combat this issue.

“I think that we aren’t very educated (on diversity and accessibility) because there aren’t many students in our college that face those problems, but those that do recognize that there is an issue,” Flowers said.

Walsh said he would work to create a dialogue when it comes to working with faculty and administration as he has never personally interacted with the dean. Flowers said he already has a working relationship with faculty.

However, both said they would like to increase communication with students. Walsh plans to interact with the many different student organizations within the college, while Flowers wants to hold weekly office hours and be visible.

Saira Brown, the current off-campus commissioner of Student Senate who is running unopposed for the Patton College of Education senator, said if elected, she would hold weekly meetings with administration and continue to develop the relationship she already has with faculty.

She said in order to seek feedback from students she would create a suggestion box for students to voice their concerns, and she would pick them up weekly. Additionally, she would make sure her Twitter account was accessible for students to reach her with any other concerns.

“I think the biggest problem facing Patton College of Education is the lack of coming together,” Brown said. “We need hold more events of all colleges who could come together.”

Danielle Valaitis, current Scripps College of Communication senator, is running to reclaim her current position with the UNITE ticket. She said the biggest challenge she has seen in the Scripps College is that the transition to Schoonover Center brings challenges and divides the different schools within the college.

“Making sure programs are available for students to connect with one another that do not conflict with their classroom time would be my main goal,” Valaitis said.

She said she already has a relationship with the administration inside the college through her role this past year and would hold all of her office hours inside Schoonover Center to be more accessible to students and faculty. She also said she wants to increase her online platform to make herself more available.

Valaitis is running against Hannah Britton from Impact, who did not attend the forum.

In closing statements, all of the candidates pushed for students to continue to educate themselves on each ticket’s platform and to vote March 29 and 30.

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