2011 Candidates for VP for student life

Chris Savage

Candidate Statement: Hello, my name is Chris Savage and I'm running for VP of student life. In my time here at Western, for the past two years, I have seen such quality through leadership which has initially inspired me to run for this position, to follow the examples that were set in place before me. Western is in the midst of decreased funding, which to make the most out what we have; we will need strong leadership, bright minds and collaboration to help all of us through these taxing times. If not voting for me, please take time to review each candidates experience and qualifications, so as to pick the right leaders for this position. Thank you for your time.

Why are you seeking this position?

The reason I’m seeking this position is because I feel like it’s another area where I can help people. Basically the reason why I joined RHA as the RHA president is, I want to help as many people as possible and if this is the way to do it, then so be it. And I also feel like it’s an elevated RHA president position, so I already feel like I’m associated with a lot of the dining committees, the VP steering committee that the former VP of student life is on, so I feel like I have enough training to fill the position.

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

The role of VP for student life is to represent the students as best they can and to represent them in their respective committees. So, as I said, the VP steering committee, the Health and Wellness Center Committee, the Rec Center Committee, all those committees, the VP for student life would represent student interests in those and see them come… for whatever the students want.

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

Probably the student fees, because a lot of students come to me and they are kind of, or, a little education on the student fees because a lot of people don’t understand what they’re paying for sometimes when they see the $95 for the Rec Center or the $27 for the Health and Wellness center. Maybe more education on that, or to reduce those fees so that students may be able to have more money themselves.

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?

Well, I personally have felt the tuition cuts because of RHA, we have had our budget cut by a half. So I feel that I have the experience and the know-all to, even with more budget cuts that I know that are assuming that are coming, to figure out a way to utilize as little as we have to make the most of what it is.

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Hilary McGowan

Candidate Statement: I am junior majoring in urban planning at Huxley. Coming to Western has given me the opportunity to become a leader and student advocate on campus. I'm the President of two clubs, Students for Renewable Energy (AS Club of the Year) and Students for Urban Planning and Policy. I'm applying for grant money through the Green Energy Fee, served on committees in the AS and Huxley and have created numerous of on-campus events. The AS VP for student life is a vital position to help connect students to the university. I am results-oriented, experienced, and focus on action. My priorities include supporting our athletics, increasing alternative transportation, accountable spending, developing the Green [Energy] Fee, and being a reliable resource for students.

Why are you seeking this position?

I have invested myself on campus and I really care deeply about the outcome of the programming, especially in the fear of all these budget cuts. As a student leader, I am the president of Students for Renewable Energy and Students for Urban Planning and Policy. I really care about how students relate to their school and what kind of programs and services that we can offer to everyone. I think it’s really important that students have access to whatever the AS Board of Directors are saying. I’d like to increase the transparency of what’s happening behind the board and increase what students outside are saying to the student board, so they can access programmings, what has to be cut, and what should be preserved. I am also really invested in the Green Energy Fee and the Alternative Transportation Fee which student life runs. I have a strong background in both. I have actually submitted a grant for the Green Energy Fee for $137, 335 to install solar panels on top of the roof. I’ve also created the Housing Initiative Bill through Students for Renewable Energy, to help save students money. I think it’s really important that students can be represented by somebody who cares about all parts of it. I’ve lived in the dorms, I know what that’s like. I’ve played sports, I was a varsity athlete for four years. We’ve all eaten in the dining hall, so we want to increase those choices as well.

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

Student life is the most broad of all the positions. It encompasses the housing, dining, athletics, recreation, campus services as well as leading committees and directing the two largest fees on campus. My role would be to work to represent the student body concerns for each program, and to provide the students with increased, well-advertised and well-managed programming. Student life’s role is to work with the students, find out exactly what they want, and to allow them to find out what the AS Board of Directors is doing. It is also really important that student life is involved in all facets of Western’s campus, not just focusing on one portion. I think it’s also really important that student life listens to students to defend their rights, to progress gender-inclusive housing, and to make the AS more accessible. One of my big things is that I want to help manage the Green Energy Fee effectively and efficiently, increase Western shuttle service and availability, reevaluate the alternative transportation fee, and support clubs, athletics and recreation integration into the AS.

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

The budget. It’s going to be vital that the board of directors continues to provide all their services and programming while working with a dramatically reduced budget. That means that the board of directors is going to have to critically manage their programming with accountability and student-voiced direction. It’s essential that students have access to the highest quality of services possible, which is going to necessitate serious decisions. With my background, I know how to evaluate programming. You have to see what students want and cut out the fat where they don’t want. If internships need to be made rather than having as many job positions or helping those job positions, that’s going to necessitate those hard decisions. We as students cannot afford to go outside and get more programs. So it’s very important that student life keeps their programs up. It’s going to be important that students get involved with the AS and their campus more to find out what exactly is happening and how they can get more involved. By looking at the evaluation of the alternative transportation fee, we can start getting around easier and also push more services so students who may not be able to afford a car can get around effectively.

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?

Dealing with budget cuts is incredibly difficult because you don’t want to cut anything that people need access to. So what you’re going to need to do is re-evaluate the programs and make sure they are running as effectively as possible. As president for Students For Renewable Energy, I have worked with a budget of only about $50 a quarter. We have been able to provide effective events, planning, reaching out to as many students as we can with using our limited resources. It’s going to need to have student involvement and people utilizing their funds to the best that they can. I can help maintain the quality of AS programming by knowing how they work and why they work, and assessing exactly how they relate to each and every student, you can correctly identify which areas need to be cut, which areas need to be emphasized, and who needs the most support and why. I’ve had a strong background in doing a lot of internship work with nonprofits and volunteer work, and it’s been really difficult to work with a limited budget. But understanding how people with less funding go about it, I can correctly assess how the future of student life programs should work. As a student leader I have taken the initiative to provide student body with a student life debate. I took the initiative to make these hard decisions and to ask people what they wanted so they can hear us more.

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Zachary Carroll

Candidate Statement: As an RA in Sigma my passion is student life. You have my word I won't risk your trust or money pursuing my own agenda but instead articulate yours and produce results.

My platform:

Green Fee: Evaluate the potential and produce tangible and responsible results.

Dining: Increase student voice in service options under the new contract. Increase diversity of local food options available on campus.

Housing: Push for an updated technology package including Wi-Fi, stronger servers and better access to printing. Decrease the environmental impact. Support and encourage the health and accessibility of gender-inclusive Housing.

Fees: Critically analyze and publish how student dollars are spent, while implementing a culture of accountability and sensitivity to the process, both acquiring and spending.

Why are you seeking this position?

Well, I am seeking the student life position I think because I have confidence in my abilities that I am the most qualified for this position. I think my training as an RA this past year and my working with Res Life and residence halls with a breadth of students that come in the dorms has given me the unique ability to learn how to interact with different groups of people and still accomplish a goal, and that goal this in case the community while with student life it would be a little similar goal but different in other ways. So I think that job description, that training has given me a unique ability to work with students on a more human level, not strictly business or politics. Also I think the working with Res Life has given me a unique insight to housing and dining which are two major issues the office works with along with direct line of communication with students. Since I live that close to them, I hear a lot about the needs and the wants of the community and try to take those skills and learn and apply them to my future job, hopefully.

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

Well, the proper answer would be from the paper, as a liaison between the students and then the different entities that try to serve them. The dining, housing, those kinds of things. But my job, I think, is a lot of it to, I’m probably going to talk about this a lot, is that with this budget crisis, I hope there’s not going to be a tendency to go strictly business in the way the AS functions and that we lose that sensitivity and that human factor in the way we cut things and make decisions. And so, I want to bring still that element of self-sacrifice and we still are serving, we’re not just leading but we’re also here to provide and to serve still. And so, my role in that position is to ensure that the students in areas of housing, dining, and transportation because of the green fee, that their needs and their wants and what they want from their school is transferred through me into action and results. I simply want to be the voice and the action of what the students want to get done.

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

Well, the first obvious major one would be raise in tuition. That’s going to affect every single student throughout this. And so, obviously, a good candidate would race to help fight for and stand for students not to get tuition raised and be the one who goes to Olympia, as our previous AS board has done a fantastic job doing. Going there, fighting, bringing all different positions whether its faculty, staff, with students to go and fight as a united front for higher education. I think that was a fantastic job doing that. But, one of the issues I feel pretty strong about personally and that kind of falls into the housing part of my job is gender inclusive housing is coming to campus. So, I think whether or not you know a lot about it or whether or not you’re on board for it or not, I think that this issue has a lot of principles that can be applied for future other aspects of the job. It was a student-prompted initiative, student-driven, student-led, student-fought-for, and I think the AS needs to be behind that one hundred percent first and foremost because it was from the students. And so, I’d like to support that because it deserves the support and needs it. And also the human element to this community building again, from the RA perspective, this community is very unique and that’s going to be set up and integrated into the larger BT community. And so, I want to personally hope to see that this goes safely, smoothly, and I guess, healthy for all those involved. Not only for data collection because this is the beta, and so we’re trying to see if we can expand this, and so other universities and other institutions are going to be looking at us very critically in how we do this. So, if we’re going to set an example on that leading edge, we have to do this in a very careful and very intentional way, but not without ignoring that there are students and humans involved in this and people, and that we need to keep this an environment that will allow them to grow and experience college to the best of their abilities, which is what we’re here for—to experience college and come out of it growth and positive. And so, I think the AS should really be behind gender inclusive housing specifically, but then apply those principles of sensitivity and basic humanity to all elements whether its tuition, class sizes, and all different areas.

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?

Well I think that “if” kind of stands out. I don’t know if it’s an ‘if’ or not, I think the ‘if’ will happen. These will continue. First off, I don’t buy into the thought that just because we’re having budget issues we can’t expand certain programs or we can’t still move forward in a positive direction. All this means is we have to be more efficient and more strategic in what we do so that we don’t waste. This is going to be a trying time for the university as a whole that to cut down waste so that we keep those services that students depend on and rely on and come to expect from us. If they are paying a higher tuition I think they deserve still a very high quality of experience, and that’s what the AS should work on. So, my job as a liaison to go work with the different entities of the university, the staff, the faculty, the boards, the various committees, I think I’m pretty qualified in that I can move between groups and I can kind of frame ideas and thoughts and ways of doing things in ways that make it productive both for students and for the entities I’m talking to so that I don’t come off as just me and you, it’s us as a collective, as a university. How can we weather this storm of economic crap, for lack of a more elegant term, and get down to where we can batten down the hatches, hold on, and then when the economy does come out of this upswing, we set up a legacy and a context where students of future generations can be in a prime position to pounce and take advantage of and grow and progress. And so, I think that how I’m going to help maintain that, help that quality, is to cut back on inefficiencies, and really critically analyze how we do things here. Every penny counts and so logistics, goals, everything needs to be kind of boiled down and, okay, who’s on board, how are we on board, where are we going, is this going to affect and benefit students the most in a healthy, safe way.

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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.

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Derick Reinhardt

Candidate Statement: Hello, my name is Derick Reinhardt, I am currently a freshman here at Western Washington University and while here on campus I want to represent your voice in student life. Student life to me looks like this: students being involved in their campus, students knowing what events are coming up each month, students having the ability to feel inclusive no matter what event, and students feeling satisfied because their needs are being met. However, I feel students don't know what is going on around campus, students feeling like they are excluded in events, and students not having their needs met. If I am elected then I promise you that I will make campus life easier for students to feel engaged in student life. Thank you.

Why are you seeking this position?

The reason why I am seeking this position is because I feel like this campus can have a more sense of community. If I am elected, then I really want to make sure students feel included in the campus activities that go with campus, and then I really want to make sure students know about other resources here on campus as well, while making sure that students have a good communication with the athletics, the AS board, and other resources on campus. I’m going to do this by making sure to advertise all these resources. I want to make this campus more bright, make sure there are a lot of posters up and make sure students do see that. Hey, here’s a career center, here’s admissions, here’s what you can do with admissions and here’s what you can do with the career center, and the violence sexual assault CASAS. I just want people to know that you don’t have to wait for so long before you find out about these resources. As well, I want to make sure gender neutral housing continues to strive because I know that people worked hard to get that going and I really want to see it progress within the near future. I also want to represent most students’ voices by embodying their choices.

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

I think the role of vice president for student life is to represent students’ voices as much as possible. In doing this, I feel that it is in the VP’s line of duty to make sure students’ needs are being met as much as possible. I think that this role entails using best judgment when making decisions, and not making decisions based off the biases that the VP for student life might have.

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

Oh gosh, there are so many. I think one in particular would be to make sure students know about the resources here on campus. I’ve had friends who are juniors and some who are seniors say that they wish they knew about the resources earlier in their college career, like freshman or sophomore year.

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 will help maintain the quality of AS programs, services and events by doing all that I can to make sure that students’ needs are being met, however if something does come up to where students’ needs are not being met, then I will try to find a way to work around that. With that said, I know that some students’ needs are not going to be met. But I will do my best to make sure that in the end, students do feel a sense of community no matter what, and do feel as though they belong here on campus. I have a little goal in mind that if I am elected for student life, my one goal is to make if I can make at least one person’s student life here on campus amazing, the bomb, then I would be the most happiest person in the world.

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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.