Elections Politics

First Student Senate election debate reveals similarities and differences among tickets

Photo by Heather Willard
Written by Heather Willard

Greenlight, Fight, Voice — the three tickets running for Student Senate all met for the first time today at the executive debate. Inclusion of all students and groups on campus dominated a significant part of the rhetoric from all three platforms, as was better communication with administrators. However, the tickets differed on the specifics of how this should be done.

Here’s how it broke down:

Green Light

With an exec team consisting of current Senate Chief of Staff Landen Lama for president, current Senator At-Large Nicole Schneider for vice president and current SAC Senator At-Large Zachary Woods for treasurer, Green Light advocates for going out and not stopping when university administration places roadblocks in students’ ways.

When asked what their ideal relationship with administrators would look like and how they would build it, Lama answered frankly.

“Having the understanding that the Board of Trustees is not the workforce of the university — they are the end all, be all — then you understand we have to talk to those entry-level people, the administrators,” he said.

He further advocated for befriending, but also criticizing, university administrators to further student interests.

The executives were also asked how they would get everyone on campus more actively involved in Senate and Senate activities, to which treasurer candidate Woods responded: financial incentives.

“One way to get people more interested in something is to give them money,” he said.

Woods noted three points on Green Light’s platform that related to this: increasing the campus outreach committee, adding a diversity and inclusion incentive into funding and further increasing Senate fund allocations by increasing the budget.

“That will help to broaden the organizations that work together,” Woods said.

Voice

Jordan Kelley, current Senate LGBTQA Affairs Vice-Commissioner, is heading this exec team in his quest for Student Senate president by listening to the student population and giving them voice. He is running with vice presidential candidate Keyarah Newton, a political science pre-law student, and with treasurer candidate Dane Hudson, who works for Ohio University’s Fixed Income Management group.

Kelley said the way forward with university administration is to work together on initiatives and create a working relationship.

“If we can present a united front with faculty, with other student organizations on campus, then it only makes the voices of our students and the voices of our faculty stronger,” he said.

Voice also has a platform point of creating rotating office hours, which means senator officers would be held in the colleges and areas where their constituents are more likely to be, increasing participation. They also supported Senate-sponsored events that would act as alternative programming.

“I’ve heard from a lot of students that in Athens there isn’t a lot to do except to go out and drink,” Hudson said. “Alternative programming is Voice’s way of combatting this.”

Fight

Fight is this year’s outside party, as none of the exec candidates have experience in Student Senate. David Parkhill, current president of OU College Republicans, is running for Student Senate president, alongside VP candidate Allison Huedepohl, and health service administration junior and treasurer candidate Caleb Cline, who is a Northwestern Mutual Financial Advisor.

Cline was not in attendance for this debate due to his involvement with ROTC.

Parkhill and Huedepohl spoke at length about their desire to create a different atmosphere with OU administration. Parkhill argued the attitude administrators hold toward students should be changed, yet he said he has had open and productive conversations with the administration.

“If a company treated its customers like universities treated their students, they would’ve been out of business a long time ago,” Parkhill said.

Huedepohl said there was a divide among different types of student organizations and advocated for combining their strengths through the mutual connection of Student Senate.

“We’re just like everyone else; we want to be a part of your organization, and we want you to be a part of ours,” she said.

Fight also said they were excited to fight for individual students.

“We’re not interested in being an organization that is elite, we want to be at the same, we want to be inclusive,” Huedepohl said.

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Heather Willard

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