Below you will find the re-printed interviews with the candidates running for AS VP for student life during this week’s run-off election:

Victor Celis

Candidate Statement: My name is Victor Celis and I am running to serve you as the AS VP of student life! As a sophomore at WWU studying political science and Spanish, I love being involved with a variety of diverse groups throughout our community. I have decided to run for VP of student life because it has one major focus: YOU! I believe that I am qualified to be your VP of student life because of my experience serving you, the students, as a Resident Adviser, a senator on the AS student senate, and a member of many different organizations and committees that affect the student’s lives at WWU. As VP of student life I will work for you to make your time at Western the best!

Why are you seeking this position?

I chose this position, VP for student life, because I really honestly care about the students and I want to make their time here, their time spent here, the best that it can be. I would do this by making sure that their needs are all being met and that their concerns are being heard, and not just heard, but that their concerns are being acted on and being, there’s something more coming from what they want to hear. I was initially drawn to the position of VP for student life because the initial, the focus on students—in the title it’s ‘student life,’ so I was drawn to serving students. I think that initial attraction came from me working as an RA within the residence hall and as a peer adviser in student financial services, and just doing what is needed to make the students’ time here the best that it can be.

What do you think is the role of  VP for student life?

The role is a fairly broad role because it has so many ties to different parts of the university. But, in general, as VP for student life I would work with a lot of different offices and programs that affect the daily lives of students, whether that’s dining services or University Residences where we will be ushering in the new gender-inclusive housing program next year, student transportation, the Student Health Center, the Wade King Rec Center, the Green Energy Fee where we will be reviewing and amending the program after it’s first year making sure it’s really aimed towards students and their goals, and their ideas that they want to be on campus, and a lot of other different offices and campus programs. But, to sum that up, I would serve as a liaison between the AS, the different offices, and the students here on campus making sure that all the groups are being represented and heard in their concerns and values.

Tell us about one issue affecting students that you think the AS Board of Directors should focus on next year.

One thing that I think is huge for the university is this new gender-inclusive housing program that’s going to be starting up in Buchanan Towers next year, and I think that the board really needs to help promote that inclusive community within that floor, but also bring that more into their hall throughout BT and then bring that community out onto campus. I think it’s a really great opportunity for a campus, not just the people living on that floor and that hall, but the rest of campus to really learn from this and grow and really help our Western community become more, even more inclusive and really open, and I think by doing that next year, that we’re going to help this program grow and really expand and reach its full potential. I’m really excited to see the program work out.

This year, the AS has had to deal with funding cuts and tough budget decisions. How will you help maintain the quality of AS programs, services and events if these budget issues continue into next year?

First, I would continue to advocate for higher education and for Western, whether that’s going down to Olympia to testify the legislatures, promoting and participating in campus rallies, and writing and calling our representatives and letting them know our concerns and our values for higher education in the future. But on top of that, we also need to be pursuing more effective and efficient procedures and operations within each office and each program and each event so that way we can make sure that the most valued programs here by the students are being maintained and really keeping their focus on the students. And really in order to do that we’ll need to have a clear idea of what the students value most, so that way we can go through and thoroughly see where we can become more efficient with our spending and keep that focus on students.


Sara Richards

Candidate Statement: I am the most qualified candidate to be AS vice president for student life. I have been in many governance roles dealing with aspects of student life such as: Res Life, University Dining, transportation and athletics. I bring knowledge and experience to best represent students in times of budgetary uncertainty, and will fight to protect your financial rights, programs and needs.

My priorities:

  • Safeguard the quality of University Residences while facing large budget cuts

  • Improve and expand the gender-inclusive housing pilot program

  • Prioritize improving students’ dining experience as University Dining undergoes contract changes

  • Advocate students’ interests as the Alternative Transportation Fee goes up for renewal

  • Guide students through resource procedures for the Green Energy Fee-related programs

  • Enhance the connection between WWU Athletics and the AS

Why are you seeking this position?

I’m seeking this position because not only do I have a passion for leadership in general, I love being involved and being able to make a change for the better. I came to Western loving it with an undeniable passion and I feel like through working with Western’s Leadership Advantage I’ve really learned the five leadership practices and I’ve done my best to challenge the process in many aspects of the organizations that I’m a part of. As I share the same vision as many fellow students when it comes to putting ideas into actions. The past two years I’ve been really heavily involved in many governance roles that the vice president for student life already deals with like Residence Hall Association, AStack, I’ve worked with the gender-inclusive housing pilot program, I’m both a varsity and a recreation athlete here at Western, and I also have a really strong passion and desire to continue the development for Western’s sustainability improvements goals and visions that I know a lot of students share with me. I know I’m the most qualified for this position so I’m stepping up to take the leadership role on for my fellow students.

What do you think is the role of VP for student life?

As the vice president for student life my role is going to be to be that student leader that other students can come to. So, having the knowledge to guide them through the resources and procedures to make their visions as the students of our campus, put into actions. Even if I don’t know exactly how to do it, I’m going to know the resources to help put them through and actually get things done that they want. Being the person that will go out and seek those students in those organizations and groups who want things done and want to make a change on campus, finding them and helping them get through that process. A lot of the students that I’ve already talked to have really told me that it’s really hard and a long process to get programs going and get events happening, especially when it comes to the Green Energy Fee and just making that process easier and as simple as I can for them, so exactly, sharing an inspiring vision and putting that into action. If it’s from the eco-reps timer programs in the shower or from the gender-inclusive housing piloting program—making it easier steps and the process more simple to get through, and being that student leader that students can come to.

Tell us about one issue affecting students that you think the AS Board of Directors should focus on next year.

Absolutely sustainability. Not only do I think the board of directors, but I know I have a passion for it and I know fellow students really share that passion with me also. As vice president for student life, being able to realize that we’re facing budget cuts right now when it comes to our programs and our resources and outlets. Everything is being threatened, but prioritizing what our students want and what we need to do to continue to incline in the steps that Western is taking to become a more sustainable place. I know personally I can benefit the board, by working with the rec center or the health center or any other facilities that use a lot of energy and helping things become more efficiently ran, not only in cost but in environmental ways, if it’s helping the res halls not only promote the Go For the Green Challenge more but helping improve it and making the campus more sustainable. I know I’ve mentioned the eco-rep shower timers before but they came to RHA and I thought that was an absolutely amazing idea. They’re piloting it right now and seeing if it’s actually making an improvement in expanding that all throughout campus.

This year the AS has had to deal with funding cuts and tough budget decisions. How will you help maintain the quality of AS programs, services and events if these budget issues continue?

The budget cuts that Western is receiving doesn’t actually affect AS programs. The revenue would only be affected if student enrollment decreased rapidly, however, if a toll does happen to where AS programs are affected very negatively or something, just prioritizing what the students wants are and needs are, and evaluating what we’re already doing and what our students want us to absolutely continue on. My priority will always be to continue to fight for students rights, programs and financial needs. If that’s from continuing attending things such as lobby days, or getting involved in the political system. Our decision-makers down in Olympia they are definitely key, but always keeping the students in mind. The quality of our events is what we want, it’s not the quantity of our events or programs or resources. It’s the quality in what is actually helping the students out and prioritizing to keep that on the task list to actually get done, especially when we face budgetary cuts.