The AS Review: What motivates you to seek out this position?
Anna Ellermeier: Through my experience both growing up and at college I’ve learned that for me, what’s fulfilling is to be helping other people and to be making a positive impact in the world. And my philosophy about making an impact and making change is that, one, you need to find the thing that you’re passionate about and whether that’s student leadership or women’s rights or whatever it is, as long as you have that passion I think that you’re making a positive impact and secondly, that you should use your strengths and play to your strengths in finding a way to make that impact. Things that I’m passionate about are, currently the things that affect students. And as a student, I think that’s definitely something really important to me and my route for that is through my strengths that I believe [are] student leadership and also really effective communication across perspectives.
ASR: What groups of students might be easily overlooked by the AS Board, and what will you do to ensure that you represent them in your work?
Ellermeier: I think that the groups of students that get overlooked are, on the more obvious level, marginalized groups of society, whether it’s minorities, people of less mainstream sexual orientation, transgender, intersex individuals, people with disabilities, women, to a certain degree, and as well, students who hold interests that maybe aren’t necessarily of the general population. I definitely know that there needs to be a part of the AS that recognizes that and provides activities for that and I think that as editor-in-chief of The AS Review I’ve really tried to reflect that in the paper this year. That’s been one of my goals and I think that we’ve done that successfully by writing articles about students that are doing something that maybe isn’t as mainstream as the rest of campus…I really want to incorporate that into the position and into the AS board, more in that the AS board is not about board meetings and talking to the trustees and working within our organization but is really about getting out there and whether that’s through listening sessions or still being on Activities Council next year, going out in Red Square, talking to students in the AS that are really involved, going to the ROP [Resource and Outreach Programs], hanging out in the AS offices. Anything that I can do to just encourage students to get involved. And I think that a really key part of that is to just make sure that students are really aware of what the AS is. I’d really like to see the AS become more of a source of community or an agent for creating community and with that if we can start to be able to incorporate more student voice into the entire AS.
ASR: Since you came to Western, what has been the most important issue facing students that went unaddressed or was dealt with poorly? What issue would you say has been addressed most positively?
Ellermeier: To be completely honest I believe that it’s been the, at least recently, the tuition increase issue. I think that obviously the university and the AS has been at heads about the issues surrounding it, whether it’s the proposed 14 percent increase in tuition or where do we cut programs, etc. and I think there’s just been a really strong lack of information to those students and I think there’s been a lack of accountability and a lot of people making statements and not being able to back them up and I think that it’s too bad that our campus, the AS, the media on campus doesn’t promote more accountability to the students to kind of be informed on these issues.
In a really general sense I think that the issue of maybe student initiative, I don’t really know if that counts as an issue but I think that I’ve seen how the AS responds to students who do take the initiative to start a club, to go to a conference, to fight for a cause, anything like that. I’ve been really impressed with the way that our university, or the AS, has responded to that…just working within the AS I’ve seen all the ROP offices and all the people that benefit from that and I think a lot of students don’t know about that and I think it’s something that I’m definitely going to work towards next year, to making sure that people do know about these resources and how fantastic they are.
ASR: What are your three biggest goals for next year?
Ellermeier: I have a vision for the AS in that it, like I said before, begins to foster community in a way that I don’t believe it does currently and I think a key component to that is an awareness of what that is and that when we say Associated Students it’s not this exclusive group of people who have awesome jobs, but that it’s every student. It’s called the Associated Students for a reason and that every student is entitled to all the resources that it has and that they should start utilizing them and by that utilization and by that connection that people are making within the offices, with each other, at these events, at rallies, at panel discussions, at speakers, at Frisbee golf games put on by clubs, things like that, I really think that we can come together more as a campus and I think that in a time of a budget crisis that’s more crucial than ever.
My second goal would be to begin to incorporate more student voices into the AS board’s process. The [AS] VP for Student Life has a unique position, or one of the unique positions, as a liaison booking the students in the university. And while I recognize the fact that I am a student and that I have views as a student, I think that those in no way should supersede the rest of the campus’ views, because they’re all students, too, and I would really like to set the goal to actively seek out student voices so that I can be a very effective advocate for that voice.
My third goal…would be to be an advocate not only for the mainstream voice but also for those marginalized voices, whether it be through marginalization through an identity or through an interest. And I feel like I’m a very involved person at Western and I’ve seen the diversity and I’ve seen the awesome creative power and you know, just off-the-wall-stuff that people do and everybody should know about that and maybe by making it more commonplace and acknowledged it can be less scary and less marginalized.
ASR: When a student comes to you with a question that is beyond the scope of your job, how will you respond to this student?
Ellermeier: I feel like this is an area where I would really excel at in the sense of being able to refer students to other resources on campus. I am a very active person on campus, I’m very active in the AS and I know about a large majority of the resources on campus, whether it’s the Counseling Center, whether it’s CASAS, the Drug Information Center, or even the lost and found, I know a lot of people who run the programs, I know the programs and I know how they can help students…I would love to have the opportunity to help students out and to be able to refer them to those services because they’re awesome services and a lot of them are, I believe, underutilized.