The student senate executive election will begin at 8 a.m. on March 31 on the MyDrake student portal and close at 8 p.m. on April 1. A candidate forum will take place at 7 p.m. on March 30 in Sussman Theatre.
Read this article to learn about the candidates on the ballot for Student Body President, Vice President of Student Life, Vice President of Student Activities and Student Body Treasurer.
Sophomores Trinity Harris, Abbie Whittemore and Sa’Daiveon Blanton-Newell are running for Vice President of Student Organizations, the only race with multiple candidates on the ballot.
The VPSO’s duties include chairing the Organizational Council, which oversees the needs of student organizations. They also review the activities, policies and programs of the Division of Student Life and student organizations and are tasked with fostering the growth of these organizations. They assist the Student Body Treasurer with compiling a list of organizations eligible for yearly funding and are required to hold eight office hours per week.
If elected VPSO, Blanton-Newell said his first action would be to meet individually with every Registered Student Organization on campus. He said he doesn’t feel like student senate is contactable, and this outreach is designed to fit into his broader platform of giving student organizations and the student body a louder voice in student senate decisions.
“Instead of necessarily creating initiatives and changes to the RSO handbook, I will propose those [changes] to our associates, the student body, to give feedback because I think that’s very, very important to hear as leaders,” Blanton-Newell said.
Another component of Blanton-Newell’s platform includes creating a monthly forum that registered and temporary student organizations can use to communicate with the student body. He also hopes to increase knowledge of the student organizations present on campus, especially student senate, with a particular focus on reaching out to first-year students.
“I want to make people know all of the importance of student senate and the leaders that they themselves elect,” Blanton-Newell said.
Blanton-Newell said “experienced leadership” is required to help guide student organizations through the transition of returning to a more normal mode of operations following the pandemic. If elected, he plans to help guide this transition.
Blanton-Newell currently serves as Senator-at-Large for University Services.
Harris’s platform points include increasing awareness of the services the VPSO can provide to student organizations, as well as promoting student engagement in a wider variety of student organization activities. The ease of creating a new student organization and the diversity of student organizations was one of the main things that drew Harris to Drake.
“…And I really want to draw more people in with that and then also retain more people,” Harris said. “A lot of people are only going to the same events, so broadening that network of events that you’re seeing is really [important].”
Harris hopes to 1) eliminate the 10-member requirement for Unity Roundtable organizations to prevent them from losing temporary or full RSO status and 2) create an Instagram page on which student organizations can post event flyers.
Harris currently sits on the Organization Council, in addition to serving as the proxy of current VPSO Joseph Owens. In her role as proxy, Harris steps in during Organization Affairs meetings when Owens cannot attend.“Being an organization the council has prepared me for the role [of VPSO], and then also just being mentored by [Owens] because when you go through his day to day activities in that position with him, you’re basically doing a position with him,” Harris said
Whittemore’s VPSO platform is centered on three themes: 1) communication and collaboration, 2) transparency and accessibility and 3) equity and inclusion.
“I want to ensure an equitable process for all student organizations and equitable access to resources,” Whittemore said.
If elected, Whittemore said she plans to increase communication between RSO candidates and student senate during the approval process in order to ensure candidates are meeting deadlines. The Times-Delphic reported in November that seven potential RSO’s were disqualified because they missed the time-slot deadline to meet with the Organizational Council.
This works hand-in-hand with increasing knowledge of the RSO application process. Whittemore hopes to achieve this in part through a workshop that would cover the process of creating a temporary RSO, with a particular focus on first-year students interested in creating clubs. These initiatives are part of Whittemore’s goal to increase transparency.
Another component of Whittemore’s second platform point is to increase available information regarding why particular organizations are given or denied RSO status, which she says is “not always clear.”
In regards to accessibility, Whittemore would like to implement initiatives that encourage students to attend student senate meetings.
“I want to communicate to the student body which RSOs are coming to the senate floor weeks in advance so that students can be prepared and mitigate time conflicts if they do wish to attend the senate meetings,” Whittemore said.
Whittemore previously served as the Public Relations ex-officio member on student senate during her first year and currently serves as the College of Arts and Sciences Senator.