Spring has sprung early, but the USG elections are arriving on time. The tickets have now been announced.
By Paris Garnier
As with all things, the current undergraduate student government executive board has come to an end. But unlike last spring’s elections, this cycle is expected to have significantly fewer court hearings. The USG executive board election is about to begin with the election for president and vice president.
The tickets consist of Trent Bennett/Jacob Huls and Jonathon Hawkins/Albat Mulbah for president and vice president, respectively. The campaign was officially announced on Feb. 19.
All four candidates come from the senate. Bennett represents the Honors College, Huls is the Philosophy Club, Hawkins is Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Mulbah is the African Student Association.
Both sides are emphasizing advocacy for students, developing a campus identity, and improving the USG’s standing on campus. They want students to know that they can use USG to further their own goals for the campus.
Bennett and Huls want to focus on “student government centralization,” which means that USG would work more closely with organizations that handle typical student government duties, like SAPB for event planning. They also want to increase sporting event participation and strengthen the logical structure of USG legislation.
“I think both of us are optimistic about the progress USG can make, but at the same time we think we can provide the leadership to take USG to the next level of student governance,” Bennett said.
Hawkins and Mulbah are determined to develop a “Campus Day.” Hawkins explained that The Brain Trust at IUPUI came to him with the idea to have every student organization spread out across campus and have events once a month to promote “cooperation and unity on campus.” Student groups would be able to regularly table, host workshops, and raise money.
“I love promoting student organizations as it is, promoting their success on campus … and I very much am active and vocal about making sure they have the proper support and I think an event like that would allow for that,” Hawkins said. Should his ticket win, they want to have the first Campus Day in fall 2017.
Because it is still early in the cycle, both tickets are still developing their platforms and are open to student suggestion, but have released social media profiles, which will be a primary resource. Augmenting the USG’s online presence is a goal that rolls over from the outgoing administration.
“If anything we’d like to go make the student government’s presence known, because quite frankly it’s embarrassing when you talk to students on this campus and they didn’t know they had an undergraduate student government,” Bennett said.
All four candidates have stated that should their ticket lose, they would continue their senatorial work and support the winner.
“You don’t have to win elections to make a change, to make a difference,” Mulbah said. “I would keep being a senator and help Trent and his running mate succeed in helping students have a voice and do things that will help students have a better career here at IUPUI.”
Response to the new election code was positive. In fact, the only concerns for the election was a possible repeat of last year’s allegations of voter fraud and the subsequent hearings. Both tickets explained that they had an “open and clear line of communication” and would speak to each other about violation concerns before anything else.
There was an overall lack of a political difference and animosity in the relationship between the tickets and reassurance that while each side considered themselves a better fit for presidency, there was nothing but respect for the other side.
“It’ll be a very constructive campaign for the organization and … there will definitely be a lot of debate and disagreement, but I think it will be a friendly campaign with a lot of construction and a lot of good things happening for USG,” Huls said.
Last year saw record voter turnout, which both sides want to expand upon. Hawkins and Mulbah mentioned plans to mobilize the potential voting base in both the Greek life community and the Multicultural Center. Both sides encouraged students to research the candidates and understand what each ticket represents before voting.
“Get out there and say ‘Hey, we don’t stand for this, how do you stand?’” Hawkins said. “An important question voters need to ask this election is ‘Where do you really stand on the issues? What [are] your views?’”
The next election event will be a public debate on March 2 at 7 p.m. Voting will occur all day March 6 and 7; confirmation will be March 24.