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Glimpse into 2013 Student Senate Tickets

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A well-advertised table providing a home for a crowd of orange shirts at the top of Baker reminded OU students Thursday morning that Student Senate election season is, once again, upon us.

Orange is pitted up against purple, as the two parties—VOICE and FUSS, respectively—will campaign until April 18 when students cast their votes.

Both tickets stress a desire for more interaction between Senate and students, as well as voting rights for student trustees–two issues heavily debated over the past year.

But their platforms differ when considering campaign tactics, ideas of how Student Senate should function and specific programs they hope to pursue.

VOICE presidential hopeful Nick Southall, a junior studying integrated language arts and serving as Commissioner for Residence Life, is confident. He and his running mates—current Senator for Residence Life and Off-Campus Life Anna Morton for vice-president and Patton College of Education Senator Austin LaForest for treasurer, both juniors—believe their past experiences on Senate equip them with the wherewithal to implement whatever change the student body wants most.

“We know Senate’s capabilities, we know how to get things passed,” Southall said. “We know the Senate that we’re going to be working with next year.”

“I know every year, most tickets run on that idea of ‘create awareness of Senate,’” Morton added. “I think we have the experience and the right kind of people and dedication to really to push that through.”

FUSS’s presidential candidate Matt Farmer, president of the Residents Action Council, is also sure of his party’s ability to lead Student Senate in the right direction.

“We may be the ‘outside party,’ if you want to call it that,” Farmer said. “But we are unapologetically student activists.”

He runs with vice presidential candidate Jacob Chaffin, Senate’s chief lobbying officer, a returning senior studying education. Chaffin also works with the United States Student Association, a nationwide network of collegiate student governments. FUSS’s treasurer candidate Rebekah Rittenberg is a junior studying education who is involved with OU’s Student Union. The executive board-only ticket has experience protesting issues, like tuition hikes, in the past.

“I feel like our ticket has a broader understanding of what student issues are, and how to work towards more shared governance,” Chaffin said.

The little representation of purple on the scene outside Baker reflects FUSS’s decision to take a more “grass roots” approach to campaigning, according to Chaffin.

“We’re going to practice what we preach,” Chaffin said. “It’s not about branding with us, and I think that’s something student government needs to move away from.”

Senate campaign reform is one point of their platform, proposing a $1,000 cap on party spending. Other specific programs include addressing rape culture on campus, questioning the mandatory two years living on campus and opposing the guaranteed tuition model.

VOICE also plans on reaching out to individuals for campaign support. Southall is particularly enthusiastic about overhauling the organizational liaison position if elected, creating a task force of students to reach out to organizations to find their problems.

Other ideas include a smoothie bar in Ping and reorganized bus routes.

“We definitely need to have those really cool ideas that we can work on next year,” Southall said, “but we also need those guiding ideals for when we’re faced with adversity with the administration.”

Farmer also stressed the importance of advocating for students.

“We’re trying to empower all students in university decision making, and not just a couple dozen,” Farmer said. “We are going to be advocating for students the day after the election.”

OU students often grow weary of senate campaign season, particularly when professionalism turns into mud slinging. But both tickets hope for a positive campaign season without exhausting negativity for 22 days.

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