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News Senate Elections Student Senate

Meet the 2023 Student Senate Candidates: Vice President of Student Organizations

Photo courtesy of Drake Student Senate

Meet the 2023 Student Senate Candidates

Voting for the Drake Student Senate elections open on Thursday, March 30 at 8 a.m. and will remain open until the following day at 8 p.m. The election will most likely go into a runoff in which case polls will reopen at 8 a.m. on April 3 and close April 4 at 8 p.m. Results will again be read at Pomerantz Stage in Olmsted Center at 9 p.m.  

Editors Note: The following Q&A’s have been lightly edited for style and clarity.


Vice President of Student Organizations 

Aaron Khan-Gumm

Please provide your name, major(s), school year, pronouns and social media accounts and/or other places where students can learn more about you and your campaign. 

Aaron Khan-Gumm | Politics and Journalism | he/him/his | @aaron.khangumm on Instagram and ‘Aaron Khan-Gumm’ on Facebook

 

How would you describe the role of the Vice President of Student Organizations? 

The Vice President of Student Organizations is a servant to student involvement and leadership. It is the responsibility of the VPSO to improve and promote student organizations by providing leadership with the resources necessary to reach their fullest potential.

 

Why should the student body choose you to fulfill this role?

Through my past three years at Drake, I have cultivated the experience, knowledge and passion necessary to fulfill this role. I currently serve the student body as a Student Senator and president of two student organizations, giving me expertise in both. My experience as a DEI intern for West Des Moines City Hall has exposed me to professional planning, programming and communications that I plan on utilizing as VPSO. Furthermore, my formal training through the Adams Leadership Institute has taught me not only how to lead myself and others but has also prepared me to lead student leaders in particular.

 

What are your goals for this position? What issues do you plan to address, and/or what initiatives do you plan to start or continue?

If you have platform points for your campaign, please list them and explain the meaning and goals behind each one.

 

We have a wonderfully wide assortment of student organizations on campus that fulfill both niche and general interests. However, the success of these student orgs can vary greatly, with some being instantly recognizable to others on the verge of disbandment. Oftentimes, fault does not lie upon the executive boards of our student organizations, but rather the lack of institutional-level preparation and guidance for when student leaders are elected. 

My dream as VPSO is to create this institutional-level change through what I call Khan’s Academy, a training, consultation and networking program to increase the success of student organizations by improving leadership. This program would be unique from other leadership programs as training will be specifically tailored to the needs of student leadership, from how to create a constitution to increasing your organization’s on-campus presence. I hope by providing student leadership with this resource; we will see long-term improvement in our student organizations, leading to an increase in student well-being.

 

What qualifications do you have that are relevant to this position, such as involvement with organizations on or off-campus? How have they prepared you for this position?

As Chair of Drake Democrats and President of the Roosevelt Institute at Drake, I know first-hand the successes and pitfalls of being in charge of a student organization that we as a campus can address. Through my position as Community Engagement Senator, I’ve come to understand the powers and limits of the Student Senate, allowing me to appropriately shift my planning. Then, as previously mentioned, I learned and observed professional programming and training through my WDM City Hall internship and ALI training. All of these positions provide me with a holistic set of skills and practice that will allow me to make my dream of stronger student organizations a reality!

 

How will you ensure that you and/or the Student Senate represent the interests of the student body?

Communication – and not just as a buzzword. I’m talking about regular office hours in Olmsted Breezeway, increased social media presence and progress reports throughout the year, attending a new student org event every week, all to hear from the student body.

 

What’s your favorite part of the Drake Relays?

The transportable shelter made of cloth that is stretched taut by cords or loops connected to pegs buried in the ground and supported by one or more poles near the McDonald’s.


Abbie Whittemore

Please provide your name, what you’re studying, school year, pronouns, and social media accounts and/or other places where students can learn more about you and your campaign. 

My name is Abbie Whittemore (she/her) and I am a junior studying Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (BCMB). My Instagram page is @whittemore4senate where students can stay up to date with my campaign.

 

How would you describe the role of the Vice President of Student Organizations? 

The Vice President of Student Organizations (VPSO) role is an important member of the Student Senate Executive Board, focusing on the success of student organizations on Drake’s campus. This role includes leading the Organizational Council which oversees the development of newly approved student organizations and works to determine registration for Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). The VPSO works closely with the Officers of student organizations to support them throughout their terms as well as student leaders seeking to understand the RSO process.

 

Why should the student body choose you to fulfill this role?

Since my first year at Drake, I have committed myself to intentional leadership and worked to make campus a more welcoming environment for all students. Student clubs and organizations are the heart of Drake University student life. I have directly benefited from multiple of these organizations, whether I was an active member, showing up to other events or collaborating with other leaders on an event. I want to advocate for student organizations on a larger scale and give back to all Drake student organizations. 

Throughout my leadership journey, I have developed personal and professional relationships with students, staff, administration and community leaders that have ultimately prepared me to lead on Senate’s Executive Board. I have served on an Executive team for two years, so I know what effective collaboration, communication and accountability looks like in a student organization. I am prepared to hold myself and the other Executive members accountable to work towards their proposed initiatives for the betterment of the Drake community. Additionally, I have made mistakes as a leader, but learned from these mistakes and ultimately become a better leader because of it. I am confident all of the candidates running for VPSO will fight for the student body, make progressive changes and lead with positivity. I am excited by the opportunity to work alongside a group of passionate, dedicated and inspiring student leaders on the 37th session Executive Board!

 

What are your goals for this position? What issues do you plan to address, and/or what initiatives do you plan to start or continue? 

If you have platform points for your campaign, please list them and explain the meaning and goals behind each one.

 

Campaign Platform Information:

1. Transparency and accessibility

  • If elected as VPSO, I would communicate to the student body which RSOs are coming to the Senate floor weeks in advance to make sure Drake students can mitigate time conflicts if they wish to attend the Senate meeting. 
  •  I would also like to implement a workshop or event that details the process for creating a temporary RSO. This would make the RSO process more accessible to students who might not know the details. 
  • Additionally, I plan to promote transparency in how the RSO approval voting process during [the] Senate works by communicating which organizations get accepted, denied and the reasons why. 
  • As a leader and representative on campus, I plan to be accessible for students via office hours and email to advocate for student needs, create a space for students to voice their concerns and be receptive to feedback about my leadership, Senate and the RSO process.

 

2.  Effective communication and collaboration

  •  First, I plan to attend lots of organizational events to foster connections with Officers of all student organizations at Drake. Attending events and holding other Senators accountable for attending organization’s events is imperative in this role. To best represent the students we lead, we must be active participants. 
  • By implementing clear and timely communication between RSOs and Student Senate, I would clearly communicate responsibilities and upcoming deadlines to organizations. Organizations have a lot of responsibilities when preparing to meet with the Organizational Council and then present to the Senate floor, and I want to ensure all deadlines are met and all questions are answered.
  • If elected, I hope to help establish clear goals with the Senate Executive Council. Goal setting and collaboration within the Executive Council is important to maintain a cohesive and successful Senate session. I hope to work closely with Student Body President and VPSL to communicate to students dates, times and agendas of Senate meetings, particularly RSO approval meetings, and encourage them to come and use the space to voice their opinions.

 

3.. Equity and inclusion

  • I will ensure an equitable process for all student organizations and equitable access to resources during the approval process. The concerns and needs of all student organizations will be prioritized, regardless of size and member count. I will advocate on behalf of ALL student organizations on Drake’s campus. 
  •  Also, I will foster diverse perspectives of students sitting on the VPSO committees so that each Drake student feels well represented.
  • Overall, I hope to increase student attendance at organizations events, especially multicultural events that engage the larger community through diverse dialogue and programming.

 

What qualifications do you have that are relevant to this position, such as involvement with organizations on or off-campus? How have they prepared you for this position?

I have served as the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Senator, working closely with College faculty and administration to make decisions. Additionally, I have served as both a PMAC and Orientation Leader for New Student Programs, ensuring new students feel supported during their transition to Drake. Currently, I serve as the Vice President of DEI for Alpha Phi, working with the Executive Board to cultivate a welcoming space, prioritize accountability, and practice equity as it relates to campus and the greater Des Moines community. 

 

How will you ensure that you and/or the Student Senate represent the interests of the student body?

I [will] focus on how Student Senate will represent the interests of the student body in my campaign platform. Successful leaders welcome concerns, questions and advice from the people they directly represent. As an Executive Board, we would hold one another accountable as it relates to transparency, goals and intentional leadership. 

As an entire Senate, we would make sure students know how they can become involved with Senate, how they can reach out to Senators, and how they can hold us accountable, starting with the Senate website and social media platforms. To do this individually, I will publicize my office hours to encourage feedback, ensuring I am transparent and accessible for everyone. I will focus on building personal and professional relationships with the Officers of student organizations in order to aid them effectively throughout their terms.

 

What’s your favorite part of the Drake Relays?

My favorite part of Drake Relays is the Relays Concert! I have so much fun at the Track & Field events during the week and then love wrapping up the week at a concert with all of my friends.

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