Elle Peters

Elle Peters

AS Review: Why do you want to serve on the AS Board of Directors?

Elle Peters: I want to work on the AS board of directors because I think that it’s a really awesome leadership opportunity. The point of the AS board of directors is to be the voice for the students and I think that’s a really special place to be and to be elected into that would mean that people believe that I’m capable of representing them and I think that would be [a] really awesome, empowering experience that, in turn, I could also empower students by helping them, making their voices be heard.

ASR: What motivated you to seek this specific position?

EP: I’m running for the VP of Diversity because diversity is something I’m extremely passionate about. My entire time here at Western has been working and challenging myself to grow around issues of diversity. I currently am a sociology major, with minors in psychology, LGBT studies, American cultural studies and diversity in higher education, so that alone is all about studying people and studying their different intersections of identity. It’s just something I’m really passionate about and really knowledgeable about and I think it’s really special because I have knowledge about multiple identities, not just race and ethnicity, but about gender and sexuality and disability, veterans and religious backgrounds. Not that I have all the information but I definitely have a good start. I feel like that’s a really great thing to have and it’s just something I really care about and it’d be really awesome to be the VP for Diversity because I’d get [to] take everything I care about and support students, not just because I care, but because they need support and I could help them through different things.

ASR: What do you believe the role of the AS Board of Directors is?

EP: The role of the AS board of directors is to represent students, and a lot of people aren’t really aware that that’s what the board of directors are doing. But the process for the board of directors, especially the vice presidents have different areas, but all of our things, we sit on committees, different committees depending on which position you are. A lot of time you’re the only student on that committee with faculty or staff at Western and it’s your job to help form these policies, that you are there to represent all student voices. And so it’s important that you represent the voices of students and be there and be strong. I just feel like that’s what the board of directors does, be connected with students and represent them and every aspect of university life.

ASR: If elected, what specific things will you do to ensure that you represent all students?

EP: To represent students on campus, I plan on staying connected, and to do that I plan on going to multiple clubs and just talking with students in the clubs who include the ESC [Ethnic Student Center], the queer clubs, so QUAFA [Queers and Allies for Activism] and QWEST [Queer Women Educating and Supporting Together] and QPOC [Queer People of Color], and also get really involved with the ROP. The ROP is the Resource and Outreach Programs and it creates safe spaces for students with unrepresented identities. There’s the Women’s Center and LGBTA and the Veteran’s Outreach Center and Social Issues Resource Center. By outreaching to those programs it helps me to also know what office students need because each office is very knowledgeable in those areas. So me being connected to them will also help me keep connected to students also. Just talking to people I think is really important, staying connected through talking because that’s the best way, to just talk to students.

ASR: So, since you’ve been at Western, what has been an important issue facing students that went unaddressed?

EP: I believe that at Western there’s this atmosphere, multiculturalism and intersections of identity, that there seems to be no real cohesion between groups of different students of different diverse backgrounds, and that really bothers me because Western’s all about multiculturalism and intersections or identities but no one’s doing anything to connect these groups. So students of color aren’t being connected with queer students who aren’t being connected to veterans, and there’s definitely intersections and someone could be in all of those groups, or just one of them, but I feel like any group who needs to find support should really support each other in the process too because we’re all connected and the fact that we’re feeling underrepresented or not supported in the right ways. I feel like that’s what’s really missing, is there’s cohesion and interrelations between the groups, and I feel like that would make the diversity here a lot stronger on campus.

ASR: What has been an issue that was addressed particularly well?

EP: There’s two issues that I feel like, particularly this year, have been addressed really well. First of all, there is the gender-neutral housing, which is [a] really exciting new policy that they’re trying to put through that would support trans-student, intersex-student and other students of different identities who want to live with a different gender roommate. It could help brothers and sisters and best friends who are different genders and trans-people, like I said. I feel like that’s really awesome and that’s a really good move forward for our university. Also I really support the new Disability Outreach Center because now students of disability have another safe space where they can go and hang out and also have programs specifically created for students with disabilities, for people who want to learn more about disabilities. It just gives a stronger visibility for those students. I think that’s really awesome.

[caption id="attachment_2442" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="LaHaji Thomas"]LaHaji Thomas[/caption]

AS Review:  Why do you want to serve on the AS board of directors?

LaHaji Thomas: One of the reasons I want to serve on the AS board of directors is because I’ve been working inside the ESC [Ethnic Student Center] for a while and also my major is sociology with a minor in diversity in higher education and women’s studies and I think I want to branch outside of the ESC and actually serve the whole campus.

ASR:  What motivated you to seek this specific position?

LT: Like I said, my primary focus in sociology is focused on inequality and women’s studies and diversity in higher education and that’s basically a focus on diversity, so I felt that since I already have experience in terms of diversity I would focus on that.

ASR:  What do you believe the role of the AS board of directors is?

LT: I believe my primary position is to voice the students, make sure everybody’s voice is heard. Make sure we have a mutually inclusive campus where everybody could comfort everybody, everybody’s equal, nobody overpowers anybody else’s opinion or anything like that.

ASR:  If elected, what specific things would you do to ensure that you represent all students?

LT: One of the things I want to do is be accessible to all students. Another thing is I want to listen to all students because I think that’s the primary objective— to listen, and take that listening experience and apply it to things that do happen and the issues of our university. Things like forums, panels, awareness weeks, just things like that.

ASR:  Since you’ve been at Western, what has been an important issue facing students that went unaddressed?

LT: Some of the things I see is just the sustainability factor of students of diverse backgrounds because I know a lot of people—students—come to Western but they don’t stay if it’s due to the lack of comfort, the lack of resources that they’re not aware of, the lack of awareness. Maybe they’re just getting thrown into a hostile environment but they’re not really ready. Without a backup system, then they don’t really know where to go.

ASR:  What has been an issue that was addressed particularly well?

LT: One of the things that I think that was addressed particularly well is the football team. It was a very hostile environment. A lot of people said, “No we don’t want the football team to go.” Protests and everything. I thought that the president handled it in a professional manner and stated all the facts on why we shouldn’t have it because we were putting more into it than what we got out of it. I think that was addressed particularly well in terms of, when it brings back to diversity, my definition of diversity has to do with class as well, and with tuition going at a skyrocket pace, if football’s not really benefitting our campus we’re actually losing money from it so why not keep our academics and eliminate something that’s not really having a severe effect on the campus.