Candidate interview: Wilson and McKay

photo by Matthew Williams

1) Why are you running?

W: We’re running because when we hear about ASMSU, we don’t hear about things getting done. We want students to be able to have a voice in ASMSU and be excited about it. We want to make sure ASMSU is not just an organization that branches out to everything, but focuses in on things that matter.

Our most important goal is to find the things that are influential in students’ lives and figure out what brings them to MSU and what we need to do to make them stay at MSU. We want them to be involved in any way — academic, physical and emotional.

M: We’d like to get the whole student body involved, and instill in all the students a sense of ownership over the university.

W: Providing leadership is what this really comes down to. I don’t think it’s just about taking whatever the most popular opinion is, but having conviction and sticking to them. David and I have conviction, and we’re bringing that to the forefront and giving the students someone to believe in.

 

2) What is your platform?

W: The most important thing is to build a why, a how and a what. We’d like to cut out the ineffective programs and design student-to-senate talks because I feel like students don’t really have a voice in senate. Cutting down committees means honing them down to maybe one activity to focus on so they are better and improved.

We’d like to create a more sustainable campus. This entails education as to what sustainability means to the students, which can be anywhere from defining it to showing through tangible outcomes.

M: Second, we want to revamp the internal structure and external appearance of ASMSU. It’s an organization that has been around for a really long time and has done a lot of good things. We need to adjust it to the modern era so it can be effective and be more beneficial to the students.

That means getting more student voice and facilitating discussions with more MSU organizations so that we can work in tandem. We can facilitate better communication and push to ensure that the education we get is focused on quality instead of quantity, and meet the demands of a growing population.

W: We really want ASMSU to be focused on three areas of students lives: academic, physical and emotional. We’d like to emphasize that it’s not just about participation, but about quality programs so that participation can matter. We also want to increase talks with RAs and Resident Life.

 

3) What do you offer that the other candidates don’t?

W: We offer a unique blend of fresh perspective and campus experience.  Having not been heavily involved in ASMSU, we have not been shaped by the bureaucracy, so we can bring in new ideas.  However, as each of us has RA experience, we have a more expansive view of the unique needs of this great university.  ASMSU needs some fresh faces to take leadership, but we offer experience that better prepares us over other candidates.


4) What do you think the responsibilities of student body president and vice-president are?

W: The responsibilities really come down to making the decisions. In the office, it’s proving a fun, interactive component to feel like they are engaged in what they are doing and feeling like what they are doing really matters. Showing strength really facilitates that role. I have strength and stick with my convictions, and I feel like with those traits, people are bound to follow. We need students to feel like their voice matters.

M: The role of the VP is to provide leadership to committees and oversee them. It is also to make sure we are representing all students. We need to find out what we are doing for tradition’s sake, and what the students actually want.

 

5) What does student engagement mean to you?

W: It doesn’t just mean physical activities, it means touching them in ways so that all groups have an opportunity to connect. We want to focus on the academic vs. physical vs. emotional. Academic means pushing the student standard at MSU and focusing on organizations such as the Writing Center. Physical means competitive and interactive programs focused on entertainment and physical health. Emotional means integrating the VOICE Center into more discussions. If we are able to touch on what really matters…[we can] really understand what their interests are.

 

6) What does sustainability mean to you?

W: Sustainability means to ensure what we leave now is preserved for future generations. Sustainable is a way to keep what we have, and to know where we go. As an organization as a whole, the goal is to reduce the things that don’t matter, and focusing on the things that do. For ASMSU, that means transforming it into an organization that is going to continuously build on itself.

7) What do you think the relationship between student government and the university administration should be?

W: I think it should be to align ourselves with the Strategic Plan. I feel like the administration doesn’t always have the same goals as students, and we want to communicate with them to understand each other. What’s crucial is providing the student perspective.

M: In looking through the Strategic Plan, I felt like there was a lot of focus on numbers. I think statistics are important, but that can’t be all that quantifies us as a university. We want to make sure the focus is on the students and that it’s about the people who are attending the university and not the number of them.


8) What is your opinion on the proposed student fee increase?

The proposed increase is not a large amount of money per student.  $3.10 per student is not likely to have a large negative impact on anyone.  That being said, we must truly look into how the current $3.10 per student is used.  If every student is paying this fee, every student should be able to see a tangible representation of their contribution.  Fiscal responsibility means managing the funding you currently have and making it cover the areas that need it.  Sometimes this may involve an honest but unpopular evaluation of what funds best represent the students.  If the students speak through their vote and say they want the fee to raise, we will be happy to utilize that extra funding, but if not, we must be responsible with what we have.  This is a necessary aspect of sustainability.

 

9) What actions will you take to address the parking shortage on campus?

M: I believe there is already a move to increase parking, and converting parking spots by the stadium. It’s definitely an issue that needs to be addressed. We need to stress how much of a priority it is that students get to class on time. Whether that means acquiring more land or utilizing the land we already have better, we definitely need to affect that conversation with the administration.

 

10) What actions will you take to address the growing pains of our growing institutions?

W: We want to feel like we are providing an education that is quality. It’s for the students by the students. If we are increasing our population and we’re not addressing the standards, then we’re not really growing. Growing comes from measuring and then measuring again to see how far you went. If we can’t measure that growth, then there is no growth. I think if we were to discuss this with the administration we’d say we need that growth to go across the board, not just with population, but also with standards.

M: If that means that we need to stop admitting as many students for a few years to build that faculty, then that’s what needs to happen. In addition to the academic side, based on experience from ResLife, we’ve experienced a huge overpopulation. They need to either allow more students to live off campus, or adjust the operation between ASMSU and ResLife so we can stress how important student quality of life is.

 

11) How do you feel about the voiced student opposition to the smoking ban?

M: I think the smoking ban is a good, progressive legislation that happened on this campus. I personally appreciate being able to walk to campus without walking through cigarette smoke. But the way that the interaction with the smokers has occurred has been less than optimal. It was originally supposed to be student-enforced, I think, and that didn’t work out. And some of the smokers I know are bitter about the whole situation. So providing some sort of area where they could smoke that isn’t terribly inconvenient, but wouldn’t impose on others would be a way to amend that. We need to provide some amenities for smokers.

 

12) Is there anything else you’d like to say about this election or your campaign?

W: We really believe in providing students with the leadership that will not only lead them, but will also take them to the next level. We believe when students ask us a question, the next thing we can say is, ‘Here’s something tangible that we’ve done to address that concern and here’s our foundation.’ Our campaign focuses on making that foundation and building the next step. If that doesn’t resonate on a simplistic level in ASMSU, it’s not going to resonate on a larger level. So we really want to structure it that it is simple, understood and gives every student the ability to learn and become better.

M: We’d also like to stress everyone’s connection to ASMSU. It’s not just a couple people, but everyone that gets to be owners of this campus. We’d like to make that more accessible, and have greater communication with the student body as the whole. They decide their fate, we provide the guidance, but we want them to feel like their future is what they believe in.