Ben Murphy – VP for Academic Affairs

-What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?

Well currently, I serve as the president of hall council. So within the dorm and campus community I am involved in putting on dorm programs, getting people involved. Currently we have a big task coming up, we have Kappa carnival next month, which is the biggest on campus event put on by a dorm, and that is taking a lot of planning time. Outside of the realm of academia here at Western, I have been working at a summer camp for the past five years in management positions. And I was recently promoted and hired to manage the entire camp. A lot of my other time, on the weekends especially, is spent getting ready for the summer, hiring people, assisting in the hiring process, making sure things are ready. And this summer I will be assisting running a summer camp, and that’s what I do outside of Western. It’s a very time consuming job and the amount of skill that is required to do it is considerable, but it is a fun job, a really fun job.

What are your three biggest goals you wish to accomplish?

Well my biggest goal that I would like to focus on is expanding the offering of GURs that we offer here at Western. I think that the number of GURs that we offer here each quarter could be expanded, often times I find myself or I hear other students mention to me that in the process of registering for classes, there’s always a GUR or two GURs that they want to take that they found in the university planning guide that they were given, that every student is given, when the get here at Western. They find a GUR that they would like to take but they discover that it is not being offered and often times they discover this happens for more than two consecutive quarters. So what I would like to do is expand the range of offerings of GURs for those ones that aren’t offered as much, so students can take them, so they can take the GURs they are interested in, as opposed to ones they might not be interested in, and might not get as much out of. And by doing so they might, taking a class they need sooner, they might be able to graduate sooner instead of waiting a whole year to take the class.
Other secondary goals I would like to focus on, working with the teachers and faculty, is increasing blackboard and website usage within the university and working with the bookstore to increase the lifetime of textbooks before we faze them out.

-Are there any particular one of those GURs you want to increase?

The couple ones I can think about, Management 271, they do offer that class every quarter, which is one of the exceptions, but the amount of people they have in the class is so few, I mean I have been trying to get into management 271 for a while and I understand the reason why, it’s just a popular class. Off the top of my head I cannot recall any of the classes, I believe History of the Middle East was one of the classes a friend of mine mentioned that he couldn’t take and he was interested in taking.

- When you talk about blackboard can you say why and how?

Expanded use of blackboard and course website in general. I have had two or thee classes I believe in my time here at western where the professor doesn’t use blackboard or maintains a website of some sort but it’s just the syllabus. And sometimes that is their personal preference, I understand. It’s just sometimes it’s a little more preferable, I mean to me I find it easier, if there is a way to contact them online. Often times I misplace my syllabus or I might want to get a hold of them through a more multimedia means. Blackboard in itself is used fairly well. At Western we utilize a lot of technology. It’s just I would like to see, if anything, professors maintaining a website of stuff that is related to class even possibly for who are they as a person. Because some people are uncomfortable going up and talking to the professor about what they do outside of class and getting to know them. If they had a chance to know who they are, if there is a short bio, whatever the professor would like to put in, it would give them a chance to connect and know their professor, if they felt before actually talking to them, they really wanted to reach out.

- How do you hope to improve student involvement in the AS?

The way I see it now is, most students aren’t really aware of what the AS is, what the AS does. I mean most people think, ‘oh it’s the people that …student government,’ they associate it kind of on the level of high school student government. Increasing involvement, we gotta get out there to them, we need to advertise ourselves to the students, as opposed to vice versa, and other candidates have been saying this too but that is very important. Ways I plan to go about that, I am very tempted to live on campus for a third year, I’ve been living on campus for two years and the reason is I love the environment, I love reaching out to the students in the dorms and helping them get to learn Western, let them know what’s going on and getting them involved. That is something that I have always enjoyed doing, I helped out at Western Preview, I did help at the beginning of the year. When new students come to campus I want to get them involved and if I was elected to the AS Board of Directors I would continue doing that on a level of getting them directly involved with the AS and AS clubs right away. Also you cannot forget about the students who live off campus, I think. Students off campus are not directly connected to main campus itself, and in dorms, students we can reach inside the dorms. Outreach and students off campus is just incredibly important as well, so that is something I would like to work on too. How that would be accomplished at this moment, I am not quite sure, but I would definitely be working on ways to further that as well.

-Would you name one or two decisions that the board has made this year, that you disagree with, or at least the way they have gone about the decision, that you disagree with.

I don’t think I can recall one off the top of my head that I disagree with this year. Last year there was one I disagreed with. Last year my disagreement was the fact that they chose not to put the transportation issue on the ballot last year. This year I feel they have done a fairly good job in their decision making. I haven’t seen an issue that’s been brought up that I felt strongly against.

Annie Jansen – VP for Academic Affairs

-What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position?

I have been a student senator for two years, which has given me a lot of experience working with students, and the population at Western specifically. I have also been an employee of the Registrar’s Office for two years and I have gained a pretty extensive working knowledge of Western’s academic policies. So that has been very, very helpful for me in running for this position. I also have leadership experience in AS clubs, I am president of the Western Democrats and I have other leadership experience outside of school and before coming to Western.

What are your three biggest goals you wish to accomplish?

Well, the first would definitely be working on the GUR and writing proficiency requirements. It is something that comes up every year, but I think it should come up every year. It’s an issue that affects everyone, when they come here, while they are going here and after they leave. It’s one of the things that can make going to Western fun and interesting, because you know, well-rounded education you get all the things that you want out of the college experience, but it can also be hindering. So I think that those need to be reevaluated, the way that they are now as requirements.
I am interested in streamlining Western’s advising resources, and expanding them as well. Because a lot of times we will use advising services as incoming freshmen, we will use them as outgoing seniors, sometimes along the way we have little stumbling blocks and having a more streamlined online advising program would be ideal, and if not that just collaborating, getting all the offices in Old Main to collaborate, in order to make those things more available.
I also want to, it hasn’t been a problem as much with academics because the faculty and staff are very receptive to student needs, but maintaining an open line of communication with the administration and making the student voice heard in administrative decisions is absolutely critical.
-Could you explain a little more about what you want to do with GURs
Sure, with GURs I think a lot of times students will come to Western knowing exactly what they want to do and that can create problems, that is one situation where GURs are more stumbling blocks than they are helpful for getting through Western. In that case I think there should be more flexibility in the way that GURs are used. Such as, I have one friend who is in the honors program and there was a problem with having his honors credits count as GUR credits when what he really wanted to do was to study political science and to get through his four years and get everything done. He knew exactly what he wanted to do; he wanted to be an honors student, he didn’t want to do this other thing. And he finally got through that but there were issues over whether his honors credits could be recognized as GURs, and that shouldn’t ever be a problem. When someone tells you that your honors credits will count for your GUR credits, that should be the case, and it should be very clear what the expectations are and what you can expect from your GURs and a lot of times there is grey area, and that needs to be eliminated, because the requirements should be made very clear and it should be more helpful than hindering in all cases. It may be done on a case by case basis but that is obviously not always possible and in cases that it isn’t that is where advising comes into play, giving everyone the resources that they need. As for writing proficiency courses, writing proficiency courses need to be expanded there is no question about it because everyone has to do them and up until two years ago the poly-sci department didn’t have any, we’re talking about a humanities department not having writing proficiency classes, and I think that’s ridiculous I think there need to be writing proficiency classes. You shouldn’t have to be a poly-sci major and go into another major to fulfill your requirement, when you have to get all kinds of overrides and they are not available at all sometimes there is one writing proficiency course in each discipline, one per quarter and it’s ridiculous you can’t expect anyone to finish in four years.

- How do you hope to improve student involvement in the AS?

To build involvement in the AS I think it’s much more personal than anyone really realizes. The way you personally effect someone, what kind of impact you have on your life what kind of impact it has on building the Associated Students. And I think that if I hadn’t had some of the reach out to me, had someone say would you like to be a student senator, who was already a part of the Associated Students then that wouldn’t have happened. And I think those personal connections have to be made in order for the AS to continue functioning in the way that it does. At a base level we need more participation there are all these clubs and they need more participation. There are a lot of programs that need volunteers and there is a lot of interest out in the Western community and we just need to be able to harness that and I think that happens when you make a personal connection. And I am willing to do that, I am willing to do that everyday, that’s what it takes. I’m not afraid to talk to people, I’m not afraid to make friends. I think that when you make those personal connections that’s what truly makes a difference.

-Would you name one or two decisions that the board has made this year, that you disagree with, or at least the way they have gone about the decision, that you disagree with.

Well there is one proposal that I disagree with, I would say that the recent digital signage proposal I don’t agree with because I think that there were a lot of options for digital signage and they weren’t all explored I think that it should have been explored more thoroughly. I think that there were issues with the board feeling as though they were being forced to make a decision on the digital signage proposal because it had to be made, it had to happen quickly and I don’t know that all options were explored and I think that they should have been explored because there are more cost effective options and things that would benefit the students just as much that would cost the Associated Students less. So that is one thing that I disagree with.

-Do you have any thing you would like to add?

I feel like I am ready to take on this job because the board is not just making decisions on this position, it is not just making decisions on academics; it is making all of the decisions that the board has to make. So I feel that I am ready for that, capable of it, and prepared to take it on.