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Meet the 2021 Student Senate Candidates

Jared Poortinga

Candidate for Student Body President

What year are you at Drake? I am currently a Sophomore.

What are you studying? I am studying Law, Politics and Society and History with a minor in Philosophy.

Why are you running for Student Senate?

I’m running for Student Body President because I feel as though I have what it takes to make positive changes here at Drake. For far too long, Drake administration and Student Senate have neglected the student body and I believe in my ability to fight for the student body so that we can finally put in place policies that benefit all students.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

If elected, there are many things I want to accomplish, but this is what I am prioritizing at the moment:

  • Ensuring free speech on campus. Every student deserves to have a voice and deserves to have that voice protected.

  • Fighting for administration accountability and transparency. We deserve to know what the administration is doing, and they need to be accountable to us.

  • Destigmatizing/Funding mental health. There is so much wasteful, unnecessary spending on Drake’s campus that does not benefit the students. We need to reorganize the budget in order to prioritize things that do benefit students like mental health/counseling. Drake has left its mental health/counseling department in shambles for years and it’s time we fix it.

  • Low-cost textbooks. With some of the reallocated funding, we need to do something about the way overpriced textbooks in the University Bookstore. If elected, I will do everything in my power to strike a deal with the bookstore to get prices lower. With some of the reallocated funds, I also want to offer a stipend to students to use at the University bookstore. Hopefully in doing this, we can get the University Bookstore prices below outside retailers which will create two positive outcomes: 1) Lower costing textbooks for students! 2) More students will buy from the University Bookstore, thus allowing more revenue to cycle back up into the budget for us to use on other projects to benefit students!

  • Bi-weekly Student Body polling by the Student Senate. I will make it a priority to bridge the gap between the Student Senate and the Student Body by instituting bi-weekly polling that will allow us to see what students support so that we can work to implement those policies.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

We need to change the priorities of Drake Student Senate and Drake Administration. All too often Drake takes part in wasteful spending that does nothing to benefit the students. They spend a lot of the money we give them on attracting new students to campus, but once the students are here and they have their money, they neglect them. It is time we start implementing policies that benefit us!

Hubbell or Quad? Hmmm… Quad for sure

Griff or Griff II? Griff (sorry Griff II a.k.a George)

Morgan Nicole Coleman

Candidate for Student Body President

What year are you at Drake? Junior

What are you studying? I am studying International Relations, Spanish and Arabic.

Why are you running for Student Senate?

I am running for Student Senate this year because I’ve truly enjoyed my current role as Equity and Inclusion Senator thus far. In my time at Drake, I’ve prided myself on being a leader and “getting my foot in the door”, so that I can use my platform to uplift others and create the changes that I wish to see. I recognize the role of student leaders in shaping campus culture, and I desire to build upon my previous leadership experience to continue this development in the role of Student Body President. I believe in leading with compassion to bridge the gap that exist for various communities on campus.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

If elected, I am hoping to collaborate with student leaders, administration, faculty and staff to make this university more equitable and inclusive. I want to increase access to Student Senate and build trust between Senate and the student body. I want to work to proactively address the challenges that we face regarding the transition to a post-COVID era. If elected, I will work to ensure that stakeholder groups are privy to the discussions needed to make major decisions that impact their communities. Most importantly, I want students who are historically marginalized and unheard to feel like they have a voice and adequate representation! I intend to be a microphone through which they will speak truth to power.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

At the moment, accountability is essential in the transformation of the Drake community, and this accountability applies to everyone! Additionally, promoting a safe and culturally responsible classroom environment is essential. Drake has many areas for improvement, and I want to be a leader who works to facilitate that growth.

Hubbell or Quad? Hubbell! Specifically for weekend omelets!

Griff or Griff II? OG Griff!

Ella Stafford
Candidate for Student Body President

What year are you at Drake? I am a sophomore.

What are you studying? I study religion and writing.

Why are you running for Student Senate? I believe that Student Senate needs a fresh face to bring together students voices.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

I want to bring the student body together as one, and remind Drake of what it is like to be a community. I’d like to bridge the gap between varying communities on campus and create a more welcoming environment for all students.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

I’d like to see reform within Student Senate and change the way student government interacts with the student body.

Hubbell or Quad? Quad cheese quesadillas forever!

Griff or Griff II? Griff

Joseph Owens

Candidate for Vice President of Student Organizations

What year are you at Drake? Junior

What are you studying? Business Student double majoring in Marketing & English

Why are you running for Student Senate?

I am running for Student Senate because I believe that student organizations reinforce engagement in the academic, multicultural, social, spiritual life and service of Drake University. RSOs help students become more involved on campus, allow them to meet new people, help them develop leadership skills, and allow them to show their commitment to a cause. I have personally been impacted by a number RSOs on Drake’s campus and they have done those very things for me. I want to have the opportunity to help in the process of impacting the experience of student organizations and their leaders!

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected? My primary goal as of right now is to aid and facilitate the transitions of RSOs from a COVID Era to a Post COVID Era so that they are able to perform as an organization to their fullest potential. If elected, I want to accomplish my main platform points that consist of promoting equity and inclusion, accountability and communication/collaboration within the RSO community. Additionally, I want to conduct a review of all student organizations so that I am equipped to know the challenges they are facing, their member status, and any problems they are currently dealing with so that I am able to help in all these situations.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

The biggest change needed on Drake’s campus as of right now is the facilitation of the post-COVID transition process for students and RSOs. Coupled with, transparency within the Student Senate.

Hubbell or Quad? Old Quad

Griff or Griff II? Griff

Mikayla Simpson

Candidate for Vice President of Student Organizations

What year are you at Drake? Junior

What are you studying? Marketing

Why are you running for Student Senate?

I genuinely believe that there are many issues on campus that have the ability to be fixed. The difficulty in solving these issues isn’t a lack of solutions, it is a lack of effort from the people responsible for putting in the work required to come to a fix. New, innovative and alternative ideas that are willing to be tried and tested are able to bring resolutions to campus that benefit the greater good. In order to do this, we need people who are willing to put in the work after elections pass. This requires passion, motivation and a willingness to dedicate time, which is something that I hold very strongly. I believe that through group effort, we can reform the student government to commit the time and effort to create strategic solutions. Before launching my campaign, I already had come up with strategies to accomplish all of the concepts I am running on. Everything is fully supported, and I genuinely want to help implement these ideas into the school to make it a better place for all students. Whether I am elected or not, I hope that these solutions and programs I have conceptualized are incorporated into the functioning of the school.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

As a marketing major, I know that attention span is low, so I would like to highlight my main goals in my position if elected, which I will elaborate on further below.

  • More student body involvement and input in decisions through bi-weekly polling, input at student senate meetings

  • Prioritization of mental health by reallocating funds to mental health program at no additional cost to students

  • Transparency and input of Student Activity Fee

  • SAFELY integrating on campus activities

  • Protecting free speech, no matter what view from, and creating new, unbiased code for club procedures.

The once a year student senate elections simply don’t provide enough knowledge to represent all students’ wishes. As issues arise and the student senate and administration makes decisions, it is important we are taking into consideration the interests of all students, not only the 18 voting members of the student senate. The student senate needs to hold bi-weekly polls accessible to the entire student body, and offer designated time slots during each meeting for students to present any input they may have. The student senate should refrain from making any votes until after consideration of all of the feedback to consistently assure we are representing the wishes of the entire population.

Due to social distancing, online classes and limited interaction as a result of the pandemic, mental health is at an all time low. The University’s focus has been solely on the spread of the virus and they have neglected the importance of focusing on the mental health of students as well. Depression, anxiety and suicide rates are at all time highs. In fact, one in four young adults have struggled with suicidal thoughts since the outbreak of the pandemic. Peers of mine struggling with mental health have informed me of waiting as much as a month for an initial appointment with a therapist, and a minimum of two weeks in between visits. Had my friends been in serious condition, they could have easily ended up among the 47,511 people who died by suicide in 2020. The University needs to address the mental health crisis in a timely manner.

The student activity fee for Drake is currently $89 per student per semester, which comes out to $525,812 per year for undergraduate students. But with the current pandemic going on, and the campus activities not taking place, where is all that money going to?

In the student senate, I want to combine the issue of wasted student activity fees and poor mental healthcare to come together and provide an overall benefit. One of the reasons the student activity fee is not being utilized is because of COVID, and mental health is also at a decline because of COVID. Rather than watch the funds leak away, I want to relocate those funds. Directly from a Broadlawns employee, the program Drake has set up with them for mental health is extremely underfunded and suffering. We need to start letting the students have access to the exact budget for the activity fee that is coming out of their pocket, but also reallocate the money to directly fund the mental health program on campus to ensure student support is focused in all areas, not only academic.

Regardless of religion, age, political view, sexual orientation, ANYTHING, students have the right to express themselves on campus. Of course, as long as they are in compliance with the Drake code of conduct to protect other students. Whether a student wants to invite a speaker educating communism, argue for anarchism in class, or stage a event raising money for planned parenthood, and attempting to destigmatize abortion, I am in support of it, and I will stand up for their right to do so. As VP of student orgs, I would dedicate a portion of my personal time every week so that I could have the opportunity to speak with any club/organization so that they can communicate any concerns or issues they have with me. Talking directly to people and having a schedule that gives them the designated permission to do so helps the student body government keep in line with what is wanted by the entire student body.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

I see a lot of areas that need change on Drake’s campus, but where I see the need most is between the students and the authoritative figures. Both the Student Senate and the administration need to heavily improve their communication with the student body. Yes, many of the issues Drake is currently facing seem too complex to be fixed by simply improving communication with authority. But working on this area is the stepping stone we all need to take in order to express the needs of the students to the authority figures so that issues can be acknowledged, understood, and in turn, fixed.

Hubbell or Quad? Quad definitely if it is sunny!

Griff or Griff II? Griff and I’m really sad it was decided he was “too old.”

Michael Bell

Candidate for Vice President of Student Organizations

What year are you at Drake? Sophomore

What are you studying? Law, Politics, and Society and Politics

Why are you running for Student Senate?

This past year has been extremely challenging for students, their organizations and our community. As we see progress with vaccination and the university’s plans for the fall, Student Senate will need to be a leading voice for the student body. Student organizations are going to be the places where students find community, connection and relationships. As VPSO I will ensure that student organizations have what they need to succeed.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

If elected I will advocate for clear consistent communication, transparency, innovation and sustainability. Student organizations are essential to the health, engagement and success of our student body. As VPSO I will encourage continued growth and success of our student organizations by advocating on their behalf to university administration and the Student Senate.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

I believe that our priorities for change should be directed at the relationship between student governing bodies, administrators and the student body. By default, each of the aforementioned groups rely on one another to make substantive and beneficial changes for students of this university. We have to reconcile these relationships with deliberate speed for the benefit of Drake’s students and the Drake neighborhood.

Connor Oetzmann

Candidate for Vice President of Student Life

What year are you at Drake? Second-year

What are you studying? I am studying health care administration and public health with a concentration in global and comparative public health.

Why are you running for Student Senate?

I am running for Student Senate because I am passionate about the vast array of opportunities Drake offers to students, and I want to continue to work on initiatives that will support all campus communities and better Drake currently and in the future.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

I want to improve transparency and ensure Student Senate is accessible to the student body. I also want to collaborate with more organizations on campus to support and reach as many students as we can. In addition, I want to make sure Drake is moving in the right direction this upcoming fall and offering the support the student body needs as things look more “normal.”

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

I think there are various areas in need of change on Drake’s campus, but I think supporting all campus communities, and ensuring marginalized voices are highlighted and heard is the most important.

Hubbell or Quad? Quad

Griff or Griff II? This is a hard one, but I think I’m going to go with Griff II!

Maddie Haun

Candidate for Vice President of Student Activities

What year are you at Drake? Sophomore

What are you studying? Triple majoring in Political Science, Public Relations, and Strategic Political Communication.

Why are you running for Student Senate?

Over this past year, I have formed a deep love and appreciation for what the Student Activities Board does and can grow to be. Also, I have always been interested in joining Student Senate so I thought “why not form these two interests together?” In all, though, I just believe that my ideas and leadership can help make SAB and Student Senate the best they can be.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

I want to create new and exciting events that SAB can work to develop for our Drake students. Also, I would like to collaborate with different student organizations, allowing them to be highlighted for their important roles on our campus. On the Student Senate side of the position, I would like to build trust with the Drake population through transparency. These past two years have been filled with confusion about what Student Senate does, and I want to fight against that.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

Although this isn’t necessarily on Drake’s campus, I think our relationship with the surrounding Drake neighborhood needs to change. I will always remember one of the first times I came to campus, I was told that the Drake neighborhood was “dangerous”. This is a completely incorrect picture of the people around our campus. To combat this view, I want to collaborate with Drake neighborhood businesses and bring their messages to campus while engaging our students.

Hubbell or Quad? Controversial but…Hubbell.

Griff or Griff II? I love all Griffs no matter what number (but Griff II if I really have to choose).

LHunter Hildebrand (he/him/his)

Candidate for Student Body Treasurer

What year are you at Drake? Second Year

What are you studying? Finance and Data Analytics, Minor in Leadership

Why are you running for Student Senate?

I am running for Student Body Treasurer because I desire to cultivate impact, accountability and intent within our community to build trusting relationships. There are multiple functions and areas within campus that have the potential to be reorganized to make life easier and more efficient for students. With the right person, these impacts can be implemented to better our community, I believe I am that person.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

As Student Body Treasurer, I want to streamline and ease the annual funding process, develop trusting relationships around campus and increase the impact of organizations around our community. I have multiple initiatives relating to each but let me tell you about three. I will be hosting a budgeting town hall for all organizations on campus. During this, we will be discussing what we are looking for during annual funding, the basics behind it as well as how to build a budget. Next, by giving up bi-monthly climate surveys to organizations and teams, Senate will be able to see what we are doing well with and what needs to change. Finally, I plan to increase the impact of student organizations by having an event calendar where the student fees allocation committee can check in on organizations before their events to ensure they have enough funding.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

The area that needs the most change on Drake’s campus is the culture and relationships surrounding Senate with the rest of the community. Senate should be held accountable [and be] transparent and direct in their engagements, actions and comments online and in-person. From my experience, these areas need improvement and I believe it is the greatest area for change on campus.

Hubbell or Quad? I would choose the Quad from last year if I had the choice. After the renovation, I would choose Hubbell.

Griff or Griff II? Griff all the way! No disrespect to George (Griff II) though.

Mercedes Hendricks

Candidate for Student Body Treasurer

What year are you at Drake? Junior

What are you studying? Actuarial Science, Mathematics, and Quantitative Economics with a minor in Data Analytics

Why are you running for Student Senate?

Not only do I possess the necessary analytical skills and relevant experience, but I’m able to listen, observe and understand where change is needed. I’ve loved my time on SFAC and have learned a lot, but I want to take the next step and really make an impact at Drake.

What do you want to accomplish in your position if elected?

I want to provide clarity to the student body about where student dollars are being spent and where they can access additional funding if needed. I also want to make budgets, reallocations and forms more easily accessible to student organizations, as well as strive for purposeful decisions from myself and fellow senators that consider the impact of the entire student body.

Where do you see the most need for change on Drake’s campus?

Definitely within the gap between students and Student Senate. Transparency is key here, and I believe I can use the treasurer role to contribute to efforts of bridging that gap.

Hubbell or Quad? Quad

Griff or Griff II? Griff

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