Campaigning for the First-Year Senator election began on Sunday. This year’s candidates are Justin Kochanski, Kelly Tafoya, Josh Schoenblatt, Ekta Narvin Haria, Taylor Larson, Joseph Gale and Ashley Garvais.
Kochanski is a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Bartlett, Ill. His past leadership experience includes representing his high school for several nonprofit groups, varsity soccer captain and National Honor Society secretary. At Drake, he is involved in the Student Services Committee for Student Senate and Students Today Leaders Forever. He also led the petition to end the First-Year Seminar Friday sessions.
“I would strive to maintain and enhance a connection between the members of Student Senate and the actual students being represented so that real issues are being addressed on a weekly basis,” Kochanski said. “Also, I would like to explore the possibilities of enhancing the drain systems so that we don’t have a ‘Drake Lake’ every time it rains on campus.”
Tafoya is a public relations and political science major from Fort Collins, Colo. In the past, she has volunteered for several charities including Meals on Wheels and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and she has held leadership positions on sports teams.
Tafoya said she wants to improve involvement in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Respite Care, the ONE world poverty awareness campaign and Project Rachel, which was named after a Columbine victim. She also wants to open the dorms in January so students can be here for the Iowa caucus event. Campus security improvement is also a big concern of hers.
“I would like students to have to swipe their IDs to get into any building so that only Drake students and faculty have access,” Tafoya said.
Schoenblatt is a political science major from St. Charles, Ill. He has been involved in student government since fifth grade, and during that time he led the design and construction of four homecoming floats, was co-chair for a homecoming parade, was captain for a mock trial team and attended a leadership conference at Harvard University. Currently, he is a member of the Executive Board Relay’s Committee for the Student Activities Board and of the Student Fees Allocation Committee on Student Senate.
“I want to help make Drake University into a school where anything is possible, whether it is by creating a new club that promotes more acceptance of being different or a club to watch squirrels,” Schoenblatt said. “If the first-year class wants something, I am willing to stand up and say I want it, too. Because whoever is elected is not there to make the decision for themselves, they are there to make the decision for the other 850-plus first-year (students).”
Haria is biology major with a general business minor from Mombasa, Kenya. At Drake, she is the first-year representative for the Student Activities Board, an intern for the Diversity Interest Senators, a member of Drake UNICEF and a member of Alpha Phi Omega. In high school, she founded the charity organization OAM Wajibika. Her priorities are to address the first-year students’ needs, increase interactions between first-year students and upper classmen and improve Welcome Weekend activities.
Larson is a magazine and law, politics and society major from Orion, Ill. She is a floor representative for Herriott Residence Hall, and she is part of the Community Outreach Committee on Student Senate. She was also involved in her high school’s student council. Larson supports the implementation of a J-Term and wants to open communications between students and Senate.
“My plan is to use the university’s Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as other campus publications to spread the word,” Larson said.
Gale is a business major from Plymouth, Minn., and is the only candidate running who is a member of the First-Year Interest Committee. In addition to FYIC, he is the photo editor for The Times-Delphic.
“We are a class of amazing people,” Gale said. “We have done great things already and will continue to make our presence known at Drake. I can help lead us to do more great things.”
Garvais is a law, politics and society major from Minnesota. She represented her high school class on student senate and was on student committees that met with administrators.
“I voice any problem that the class has, no matter how small,” Garvais said. “Everyone’s ideas and thoughts are important. I will be the representative of those voices and these opinions.”