Time to meet the candidates

It is election season and the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly are gearing up for their own races. This year’s campuswide elections for both organizations will be held from April 8 to April 9.

SMSA Candidates

Mark Nagel and Trisha Thompson

Academics and services committee chair Mark Nagel and Vice President for member development for the University Panhellenic Council Trisha Thompson are working to unite students and connect them to the community.

“If you unite the student body, they will become a strong voice,” she said. “And we can create the MSA that we are supposed to have.”

Nagel and Thompson are following in the footsteps of their predecessors and focusing on the cost of textbooks.

“Textbooks cost an arm and leg, and most of us don’t have an extra one to spare,” Thompson said.

Nagel said they want to share strategies with faculty members to help get the lowest prices for books, such as competition between publishers.

“That always drives down the price for students,” Nagel said.

Nagel and Thompson also said they want to address legislative actions and push for classes to be optional on Support the U Day, “so that students can actually go and support the U, rather than President Bruininks having to do everything,” Thompson said.

Mark Lewandowski and Alicia Smith

Speaker of MSA Mark Lewandowski and Legislative Affairs Committee chairwoman Alicia Smith have decided to join forces to make MSA the best it can be, they said.

“Right now it’s kind of this hovering body, ‘hey look we govern,’ but we want students to be able to reach out to it and we want to reach out to students,” Smith said.

The big three issues that Lewandowski and Smith said they want to address are get out the vote, the environment and advocacy for students.

“We’re not here just to serve a few students, but every student,” Lewandowski said.

Advocating for students is high on their priority list because that is what MSA is supposed to do, Smith said.

“We need to be over at the Capitol advocating for more funding,” she said.

Lewandowski and Smith said they plan to be over at the capital every other week.

They also plan to be completely open with students, they said.

As part of their openness, Lewandowski and Smith plan to publish a bi-weekly online newsletter that will directly address any problems or concerns fellow students e-mail them with.

“We want people to put us into a corner,” Smith said, “because that’s what makes you accountable.”

GAPSA Candidates

Kristi Kremers

GAPSA at-large director Kristi Kremers’ campaign will focus on improving the GAPSA community.

Kremers said one of her main concerns is with helping prepare graduate and professional students for their futures.

“While we’re here we have the academic focus, but we also need the real world application to be successful,” she said. “There are just different expectations out there in the real world.”

Kremers said she wants to work on lessening the amount of debt that graduate and professional students often find themselves in 10 years down the line.

“We’re really setting people up for failure if we continue to allow people to take out so much in loans,” she said.

Since this is only the second time that GAPSA has held a campuswide election, Kremers said she hopes that students will get out there and vote.

“We’re really hoping that students will take a few minutes out of their day to really do some research and decided which candidate is right for them,” she said. “I would really love to hear what other people feel are the concerns affecting them.”

James Faghmous

GAPSA Vice President for student affairs James Faghmous said he wants to enhance the experiences of the graduate and professional students while they are here.

“What does it really mean to be a graduate and professional student at the University of Minnesota?” he said. “I feel that we are going to be the epicenter for graduate and professional student life.”

Cultural programs are something that Faghmous said he wants to look into developing.

“I want to make sure that we shape you culturally,” he said. “It will help shape you in an intellectually different way.”

Becoming more connected with the councils is an important thing as well, Faghmous said.

“Right now as it is, GAPSA really feels like the rich parent who gives money to the children but are never there for them,” he said.

Faghmous said he wants to make sure that the diversity among these councils is addressed and recognized.

“Acknowledging the diversity and really catering to that diversity and the different needs of our councils is very crucial,” he said. “Not only acknowledging the diversity but tackling the common problems.”

These common problems could be anything from applying for finances to writing thesis papers.

“A blank page can be really daunting,” he said. “It’s really hard to break the ice and write your first page.”