2011 Candidates for AS president

Jamin Agosti

Candidate Statement: Experience. With the hundreds of hours I have dedicated to the Associated Students as both vice president and a volunteer, I have created a more efficient AS, built the Green Energy Fee grant program, and fought for higher education.
Vision. We all chose Western for a reason and are proud to call ourselves Vikings. The budget cuts have threatened our university and the quality of our institution. We will stand up in the face of this challenge and become a stronger campus because of it.
Commitment. You elected me as your VP for student life and I have spent the last year working to live up to that responsibility. As your president I will continue this promise.

Why are you seeking this position?

I’m very passionate about Western and all the students at Western, and I don’t think there’s been a single week this year where I’ve put in less than 30 hours working on student-life issues because of that. And these are very real and very important aspects of Western that need to be addressed to help improve the experience of the 15,000 students we have. So, I take this seriously, and I make sure I’m doing the work that students expect and deserve. So, why president? As this year’s vice president for student life, I was able to get a really broad view of a lot of student issues. Next year, I want to be able to guide the board of directors to be the representative body that the students need. I have the vision and the drive that the students need in their AS president.

What do you think is the role of the AS president?

Western just hit over 15,000 students. That’s a lot of people. The president is expected to be the voice and the face to those students, whether it’s in a trustee’s meeting, to the alumni association or just around campus to parents and other students. The real challenging task of the president is collecting input to really accurately represent all of those 15,000 students. If you’re a chem student who doesn’t have any pipets for labs or a psych student who can’t get into upper-division courses you need, the president is still supposed to represent all students and all those diverse interests.

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

I think one of the most valuable aspects of Western and the Associated Students is really the uniqueness we have. From our outdoor programs like Lakewood and Viqueen Lodge to our beautiful campus to the amazing, high-quality education we have and back to the Associated Students, we’re a really unique campus, and I want to really help the students take advantage of all these services that we have. This year, one of the best things the board of directors did was make a $22,000 investment in the Viqueen Lodge, which is really going to set us up for using this property that is really unique for a student association or a university, especially of our size, to own.

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?

This year we asked every AS office to take a funding cut, similar to what the university did last year with departments. We have to make sure we’re spending student money efficiently and for good reasons. As a result of asking our staff to make these cuts, our offices found tens of thousands of dollars in voluntary reductions while still providing almost the same level of service, which is great. We need to keep looking for efficiencies, assessing the value of all the services we offer and looking for better ways to serve students. The quality of the services, resources and events that the AS offers is crucial to what we do and we will definitely continue to protect that quality.

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Anna Ellermeier

Candidate Statement: My name is Anna Ellermeier and I want to be your AS president.
As president, above all else, I will be a strong and effective advocate for students. I am committed to:
-Protecting on-campus student jobs
-Maintaining the level of inexpensive, high-
quality programming on campus
-Strengthening Western’s voice and influence in
Olympia
My varied and extensive experience in the AS, the university and legislative affairs has given me a comprehensive understanding of how the AS and the university function and how we can make them even better. My experience includes:
-AS Review Editor, two years
-Member of five AS and university committees
-Current Events Forum co-founder
I’d be honored by your vote and the opportunity to serve as your AS president.

Why are you seeking this position?

For two main reasons: First, I’ve had an incredible experience as a student and if I became AS president my main commitment would be to ensure that every student, and I mean current and prospective, has access to the unique and exceptional opportunities at our university, despite budget cuts. Second, I’m the most qualified candidate. I haven’t been on the board and because of that I’ve been able to involve myself all over campus in leadership positions, including being the editor of The AS Review for two years, being a lifestyle adviser and serving on five AS and university committees. The most effective AS presidents have a full understanding of the university and that past experiences are not based solely in one area, such as legislative affairs or student life. I will bring a much broader perspective to the role and that will make me a better AS president.

What do you think is the role of the AS President?

The president is the spokesperson and the representative of the student body. Next year, I’d like to expand this role. While still being an excellent and effective representative for the student body to our administration and our legislators, I want to empower students to use their own voices. Of course, there are times when the president needs to be able to stand up and speak for all students, but as much as we can we need to find avenues for students in their own words and in their own voices to be involved in the decision-making processes at this university. To accomplish this, I want to start getting serious about our committee system. As president, I will lead the effort to provide training that is more comprehensive for students that sit on committees. We can amplify student voices by empowering them with knowledge and more preparation.

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

Diversity. No question. Diversity is a value that is at the heart of our institution. It’s what makes Western great, but I don’t hear a whole lot of discussion about its importance when we move toward making large decisions. I believe that there is an incredible benefit to everyone [in] having a student body that comes from different backgrounds, has different ideas and has different life experiences. As AS president, I will work hard to change the way we think about diversity. It is a value that should permeate everything we do, and right now I’m disappointed that it doesn’t. When we look to cut our programs or services, when we think about our programming in the Associated Students, when we talk about access to even getting through the door to come to Western, this will be one of the main issues that I will champion as AS president.

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?

First, I think it’s important that I make the distinction that AS funds and university funds come from different sources. The Associated Students budget is funded through the services and activities fee, and that revenue is based on enrollment, not on how much money the state gives Western every year. To maintain quality, I think we need to prioritize. If we can’t do everything we want to do, we need a structured way to decide what we keep and what we let go of. To me, this would look like more assessment of specific programs, getting more student feedback on what programming they truly find valuable. We need to ask more questions. That’s something I will emphasize next year within the Associated Students organization. The programming priorities should come from the students, seeing as this is their money we’re spending.

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Benjamin Brockman

Candidate Statement: By serving as your current vice president for business and operations, I’ve done everything I said I’d do and more.
I’ve created student jobs, reduced the AS deficit, increased AS board accountability, and met with Washington’s top politicians for Western students. Through policies I’ve passed, I’ve increased AS inclusion of women, ethnic minorities and queer students. With help from my extraordinary AS staff, we’ve increased efficiency and student programs while making AS culture results-oriented. You deserve all this.
My commitment to Western: I will deliver more accountability, inclusion and results. No excuses. Come to my office anytime to talk; make sure I’m doing my job.
Give me the opportunity to continue improving Western. Vote for me for president to believe in better with Ben Brockman.

Why are you seeking this position?

I’m seeking this position because the students here at Western are like a family to me. By currently serving as vice president for business and operations, I really enjoy continuously improving the AS. With what I told The AS Review last year, I’ve done everything I said I’d do and more. I’ve passed a policy that increases accountability in student government, and others to increase inclusion for everybody on campus. With help from my extraordinary AS staff, we’ve created student jobs and additional programs, increased efficiency and stretched your dollars, and reduced the AS deficit. I hope I’m given the opportunity to be president so I get more things done. That’s what students deserve. My commitment to Western is to deliver even more accountability, inclusion and results. No excuses. I hope students come see me in my office next year in order to make sure I’m doing my job.

What do you think is the role of the AS president?

The president has three primary responsibilities. First is leading the AS Board of Directors. Since I’m experienced in managing AS employees already, there are no worries that I’ll do this well. Second is making sure university decisions are student-focused by sitting on many university committees with Bruce Shepard and other upper-level administrators. Third, the AS president represents Western students in Olympia. I’m majoring in economics and finance, with a minor in accounting. Washington’s financial shortfall is a matter of economics, so I’m qualified for this. I’m determined to take this on. I’ll explain to politicians why funding higher education is crucial for economic growth, how they can efficiently reallocate their budget toward higher education and how they can raise taxes in ways that don’t hurt businesses or the economy. We have to get tuition under control, so I’ll lead my fellow Western students in relentlessly fighting for this.

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

All quarter, I’ve been out talking to students and asking what issues are important to them. There seems to be no single issue affecting students. From the hundreds of responses I’ve written down so far, the most common student issues seem to be: sustainability—like recycling and composting, rising tuition, paving the C lot, protecting academic programs, diversity, not enough publicity for events, dislike for Sodexo and lack of club resources. Depending on what other student issues go into and fill up my journal, I’ll prioritize the AS board based on the most responses. I figure that if I win president, I’ll need to know what students care about. So, what better way to know than by asking them? We’ll implement other ways to poll student issues too. Students have the right to expect that their voices get heard. I’m listening because I respect and want to hear them 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?

The simple truth is that I’m a budget specialist. This is my academic focus and what I’m already doing as vice president. In my current position, I lead the AS budgeting process. I’ve worked with the different AS programs and together we’ve reduced spending while sustaining high-quality services. Despite having reduced this budget shortfall, we’ve actually created additional student jobs and programs by increasing efficiency and stretching your dollars. We inherited a budget deficit, but I’ll soon be presenting to the AS board a balanced budget with no deficit. The AS president, unlike my current position, operates across the university. Since every entity on campus is going broke, with my budgetary insights I’ll help them to create efficiencies and lasting solutions. Given these tough economic times and Western losing money, nothing is more important than having an AS president that understands fiscal responsibility and how to optimize budgets.

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Byron Starkey

Candidate Statement: I, Byron Starkey, want to be your next AS president.
As your current AS VP for governmental affairs I have shown determination and dedication to students by:
-Implementing the MOST SUCCESSFUL voter
registration drive and STUDENT-LED rally in
years
-ADVOCATING for students during the most
difficult legislative session in decades for Western
-Leading a campus-wide effort to UNIFY
students, faculty and administration in response to pressing budgetary concerns
Elect me as your AS president, and I will:
-Champion student priorities in decisions made regarding the future of Western
-Improve student involvement by outreaching to
clubs, resident halls, and academic departments;
-Continue my work to strengthen our response to
local, state and federal issues

Why are you seeking this position?

Over the course of this year, while working with other student governments in Washington, I’ve noticed how truly unique the Associated Students at Western is. This organization, on a service level, provides more to students and is student-run in so many more levels than any other similar AS in the state. The board itself also has more influence on the university, and its opinion is actually respected to an extent that is rarely seen when we think of student government. Being a part of the organization, being able to help guide it is an amazing opportunity. I enjoy the ability to advocate for issues I am passionate about, and I think we can make this a university that is even more collaborative and student-driven. I love my experience at Western and want future and current students to enjoy it just as much as I have.

What do you think is the role of the AS president?

I view the role of the president as being two-fold. The first and most obvious is to be the primary voice of students. That entails making sure that any decision you are consulted on, and any situation that students face, it is my job, my responsibility to make sure that I am representing the interest of students. The president is consulted on major decisions being made in the university and often the only student in the room. I will always speak up and fight for students. The second role is to be a resource and mediator for the board of directors. I’ll be working with six other vice presidents next year, and as president I should be doing as much as I can to help the vice presidents accomplish their goals. An effective board of directors and one that works together, I will make sure that this happens.

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

Accessibility. Accessibility to classes, to the university financially and accessibility to majors. We see the budget cuts laid out; students will see that classes, majors and services are less accessible because the university will be forced to consolidate and reduce services. We will see fewer jobs offered due to reductions in work-study. We will see Western not being as accessible to low-income, first generation students. We address this by advocating responsible reductions in areas that minimally impact the accessibility of all these areas. The board of directors will have to ensure that these issues are a priority as we are the primary representative in areas that will, in one way or another, address these issues and advocating for as little an increase in students fees as possible.

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?

I think the only reasonable method will be a bottom-up approach to budget reductions within the organization. What I mean by this is that we need to rely on our directors and heads of offices to present what the appropriate budget cuts will be to their office that would minimally reduce the quality of their services and programming. The board shouldn’t make these initial proposals because the people that know each office the best and how to strategically make reductions are the people who are in each office on a daily basis. The board then must realistically tackle the various proposals from each office and decide what reductions will result in a minimal loss of service to students.