LOADING

Type to search

News Senate Elections Student Senate

Q&A: Meet the candidates for next year’s Vice President of Student Life

Meet the candidates running for Vice President of Student Life for Drake Student Senate’s 2024-2025 executive board. Voting for all executive positions begins at 8 a.m. on March 27 and closes at 8 p.m. on March 28. If no candidate for a position earns 50% of the vote, runoff elections will be held from 8 a.m. on April 2 to 8 p.m. on April 3. 

Instead of being accessed through myDrake, the ballot link will now be directly sent to student emails when voting begins.

 

Drake VPSL Candidate Cody Butenhoff's headshotCody Butenhoff

cody.butenhoff@drake.edu

Instagram: @butenhoff4senate

Cody Butenhoff (he/him) is a junior majoring in strategic political communication with a minor in leadership development.

 

 

 

 

What do you believe the role of VPSL is?

It’s very much an internal position, so it’s a lot more bylaws, minutes, internal accountability, making sure folks are attending things, making sure folks are at meetings, that reports are in-depth enough or applicable to their position. [However], I still intend to be very involved with students and listen to students.

 

Why are you running for VPSL?

I think the last couple of Student Senates have…done a very good job of listening and making sure that they’re in touch with people. But again, part of my campaign is increasing communication and transparency, and sometimes we get lost…Part of that increasing transparency and communication is extending office hours, doing informal town halls and then making our meetings a little more accessible and our information a little more accessible. 

 

I think serving the interests of Drake students is very important. I think I’ve been pretty in touch with them in the last three years, and I plan to be in touch with them for the next year.

 

What experience has prepared you for this position?

As the president of the IFC [Inter Fraternity Council], [I] represent over 200 students that are in fraternities. Within that, I was not only working with fraternity members, but I got to work with other student organizations. That helped me in terms of working with people that are not necessarily in fraternities or even in fraternity and sorority life, but still making sure that we’re serving the interests of students. We’re putting on great events, we’re putting on inclusive events. 

 

I got to learn from people who are not like me. I got to listen. I got to engage with new ideas. I think that’s necessary for Student Senate when it comes to serving people, engaging with things you might not be comfortable with or familiar with, and then applying those when you’re serving people.

 

What specific goals or initiatives do you plan on implementing if elected?

Extending office hours I think is very important. Obviously, if you want to talk about listening to people, that’s how you do it: through those office hours. Office hours are kind of those one-on-one situations and people might not be comfortable with that. That’s totally understandable. On the other side, people can attend the meetings that are open to the public on Thursday nights, and people might not be comfortable with that. So I think the happy medium between that is those informal town halls where a few students senators come in, listen to maybe a group of 10 students [who] want to come or a group, 15 or 20. Those town halls allow for more engaging discourse, maybe both listening and speaking from the Student Senate side.

 

My experience leading IFC I think has prepared me very well but also plays into accountability…I sent out a monthly newsletter to all 250 ish members, in that time that I was president, almost every month. Obviously, there were a few months over the summer that weren’t hit, but those are very informational, making sure they knew what we were doing. [Current Student Body President Ruwayda Egal] already does that as president. She sends out those monthly newsletters. I think the VPSL could kind of play a role in that as well, talking about what student senators are doing.

 

What issue have you seen on campus and how do you plan to solve it?

I think it’s probably a problem that’s being addressed already, especially by the Student Activities Board. It’s done a very good job of keeping students involved, especially coming out of COVID. Making sure that people are engaged and people get to interact with each other is very good for people’s mental health. It’s very good for our community, and there’s so many organizations that have been doing it. SAB is the one that comes to mind primarily, but there was actually a collaboration between the Muslim student organization and Drake Hillel when there were issues that they had to address together. That’s what we want to see on a larger scale with a lot of organizations working together. How much Student Senate can facilitate that, I can’t speak to that right now. But I think whatever we can do to make sure that student organizations are collaborating and students get to engage with each other, I think it’s extremely important for their own sake, but also for the community’s sake. 

 

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I’m one of the few people that hasn’t served on Student Senate already, but I think people are ready for a fresh voice and a fresh face. I bring plenty of experience in my prior roles that have made it applicable in terms of bylaws and minutes and other internal workings, which is what the Vice President of Student Life does. I’m very aware of that position. I’ve met with the last two Vice Presidents of Student Life at least twice, so I’ve gotten to pick their brain on what they think is best and what needs to get done. I think students also recognize that they’d like to be heard, and I think I prioritize actively listening and engaging with them on a scale that might not be matched by other people. 

 

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

One of the biggest things [for accountability] is doing public goal setting, working with all the people on Student Senate to come up with both individual goals for them and promises that they’re gonna make and they’re gonna keep, also Senate-wide goals. Those will be available to the public, both on Instagram for people to look at, and be available on our website.

 

How do you plan to balance this position with your other commitments?

I’ve had a job all three years now. I’ve obviously had classes now, and I think I’ve balanced those well. Obviously, I served as IFC president for a year, I think I balanced that just fine, those couple of semesters, so I think that speaks for itself. I think I’d be balancing just fine Student Senate, working and classes.

 

Drake VPSL Candidate Lily Ruiter's headshotLilly Ruiter

lilly.ruiter@drake.edu

Instagram: @lilly4senate

Lilly Ruiter (she/they) is a junior studying American politics, law, politics and society and philosophy. 

 

 

 

 

What do you believe the role of VPSL is?

I believe the role of Vice President of Student Life is the administrative tasks of Student Senate. So running Student Senate behind the scenes. From what I’ve seen, also conversations I’ve had with the current VPSL, making sure that Senate runs smoothly, doing absences, doing attendance, bylaws. Overall, the administrative work is delegated to that position.

 

Why are you running for VPSL?

I honestly just really love Senate. I have been able to serve as [College of] Arts and Sciences senator and although I’ve been able to be hands-on, I really want to have the full hands-on experience of being able to run Senate, delegate tasks, do committee work, make sure everything’s running smoothly, make sure everything’s being done timely. And then pushing a couple of new initiatives that I really wish I would have seen these past two years that I’ve been involved with Senate.

 

What experience has prepared you for this position?

My role as Arts and Sciences senator [and] representing the biggest college. Obviously as VPSL, I represent all the student body and that’s not that big of a step up considering I was representing the biggest college. I also was on a Student Senate committee last year and ran a very big event, Bulldogs Pack and Give Back. 

 

I have a lot of experience there with delegating tasks, getting down to business, being serious. I’ve done stuff with bylaws in the past, especially as secretary [and] treasurer of organizations. Having to do the minutes before the meeting is something that VPSL does. They give us a notes packet of everything that will be coming to the floor, and that’s something that I have extensive experience with.

 

What specific goals or initiatives do you plan on implementing if elected?

One of my biggest goals is to get Senate to be more seen. I know a lot of people complain about, like, ‘what does Senate even do? Why do we even have Senate?’ 

 

Having senators be present, go to things, be involved, require that involvement, ask more of Senate, so it’s not just something that is … worthwhile, meaningful for the senators and for organizations on campus. I believe that it’s very important that senators are going to events and seeing how the organizations that we are delegating funds to are using those funds, especially when they do come in for one-time funding.

 

What issue have you seen on campus and how do you plan to solve it?

I know one of the biggest ones obviously right now is funding. I’m in a lot of other organizations, and we’ve been really strapped for cash. Continuing our being transparent about the budget I think is really important, especially for organizations that pay people. Obviously it’s not going to be a livable wage…but it’s still something that a lot of people count on. 

 

I also know that a lot of students are low-income and facing a lot of different insecurities, whether it be food insecurity or housing insecurity. As someone who has worked in the Office of Residence Life, I have been pushing to be more transparent with housing and allow for there to be opportunities for students to still live in student housing even after they’re no longer a sophomore. People need those meal plans. Those meal plans can be paid for by federal aid and so can the housing, but getting an apartment is a different story. That’s a population that I’m a part of and that I can definitely represent well, seeing as like single mother, low-income. The only reason why I get to come to Drake is because of scholarships. I really want to represent, especially when we’re voting on things that have to do with money.

 

Why are you the best candidate for this position?
I believe that I should be chosen for this role because I have Senate experience, much-needed Senate experience. I am an innovator. I have a lot of really good ideas that I think can help change and fix Senate. I also am ready to lead with passion. I care for Senate, I don’t see it as a means to an end for political gain. That’s why I did a Student Senate committee before I joined Senate. Senate has brought so much joy into my life and so many amazing opportunities, and I really want to continue to work with the Senate and help facilitate and give those opportunities to other people.

 

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

 I know we’ve had some problems with accountability. A problem during the fee increase was accountability of senators being honest about funding, being honest about how they were going to vote to the general public. Really holding people to those standards, not allowing misrepresentation of what you’re doing in Senate or what you will be doing in Senate. People counted on those votes, just like people counted on that money.

 

This past Senate, there have only been I believe four cases of someone saying no, and I have been three of them. That’s because I know realistically as Arts and Sciences senator, the senator of the biggest college, that not everyone is going to agree with what we’re doing in Senate. That’s true for every position, yet people aren’t pushing back enough. I think we need that pushback and we need that discourse because it accurately represents the student body, which is what we’re here to do. It’s allowing for an environment where people feel safe to speak up and say no. A lot of people in Senate I know right now are feeling like they can’t say no, that they can’t push back on initiatives, that they just have to vote yes.

 

How do you plan to balance this position with your other commitments?

I have never really struggled with balancing. My second year here, I had eight different leadership positions, and I handled it very well. I’m very excellent at time management, I would say. I work well in high-stress environments. When I was in high school, as a senior I was the president of three different clubs. So really, it’s not something that I’m worried about, seeing as I’d say time management is one of my strongest skills.

 

Drake VPSL Candidate Abby Tillotson's headshotAbby Tillotson

abby.tillotson@drake.edu

Instagram: @abbytillotson_campaign

Abby Tillotson (she/her) is a sophomore studying psychology and public health.

 

 

 

 

What do you believe the role of VPSL is?

The role in my eyes is overseeing Senate as a whole and running the Senate too, making sure the meetings run smoothly, making sure the motions run smoothly. All of the technicalities of Senate is what is involved with VPSL. I also think it’s running exec and I think it’s a lot of holding people accountable as well.

 

Why are you running for VPSL?

Over the past two years, I was First-Year Senator last year, and now I’m Facilities and Technology [Senator], and I think I grew a lot of understanding of what [VPSL] really does. I’ve watched the now President Egal do it and VP Lyons do it as well. I’ve watched them grow in the position and do the position as well, so I feel like I have a good understanding of what it entails. It just interests me because I love how Senate runs, and I think it’s so intriguing to do the motions and all that stuff. I like busy work, like organization.

 

What experience has prepared you for this position?

I think the experience that has prepared me most is probably being on Senate because I feel like I have the experience of knowing how the meetings run, knowing how motions are made and all that. Knowing the people who were past VPSLs is really important because if I have a question, I can just ask them. I also have a lot of other leadership opportunities on campus, I know a lot about SAB and how that runs, which is another huge [organization] on campus, and I’m also part of service [and] volunteering.

 

What specific goals or initiatives do you plan on implementing if elected?

Organization is a huge part and seeing a lot of growth within the bylaws. We’ve made so many changes to the bylaws this year and there’s so much room for growth, I think, even past what they’ve done. My main campaign points [are] growth and change and how there’s always so much opportunity for growth on campus. I think transparency is a huge one as well, that’s been one throughout my whole campaign, through all my elections.

 

What issue have you seen on campus and how do you plan to solve it?

One problem I’ve been really trying to solve is feminine products in the first-year halls. I believe there is a need for them. I’ve been trying to do that since last year, and last year I had some personal issues that happened so I just couldn’t have time. But this year I’ve been looking into it, just the funds are not there. That is something I’m very passionate about. I’m very passionate about women’s rights, human rights, making sure that people’s voices are heard as well as people getting what they need. I would maybe pass [this project] onto the next facilities senator as well as the health and safety [senator] because I feel like those play a role hand-in-hand.

 

Why are you the best candidate for this position?

I do think that I have experience and I am aware of how Senate [works], how the meetings are [run]. I also am aware of what’s happened in the 36th session and the 37th session, so I just have that awareness to what has happened in the past. I’ve also been a part of some SJC [Senate Judicial Committee] bylaws changes. I’ve been a part of so many changes in Senate that I feel like that experience will help me grow Senate as a whole.

 

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

I think this year we’ve been pretty transparent with what’s been going on, and I really appreciated that. I think the student body appreciated it because there’s been so many changes. The town halls are really beneficial, I also think that having the Treasurer Summit is another example of us being very transparent. I would say continuing those when those big changes that really need the voices of students on campus are happening.

How do you plan to balance this position with your other commitments?

If I do get this position, I will be mainly prioritizing this position as a whole and I will be not signing up for as much.

 

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

Tags:

You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content