Unlike the atmosphere for the presidential debate, the Student Association Town Hall debate was calm and welcoming. The candidates gathered in the Wisconsin Room to share their ideas on campus issues
The presidential candidates (Brandi Hernandez and Mike Sportiello), candidates for vice president of student affairs (Trevor Jung and Morgan Smeaton), and candidate for vice president of academic affairs (Emily Kuester), took the stage.
Kuester, being the only candidate for VPAA, started by talking about the future of university academics. She highlighted how UWM keeps changing, and in turn students get lost in the shuffle unsure if their major or department will remain the same.
“I want to keep transparency and make sure that students know what’s happening,” said Kuester. “And (I want to) make sure they know what changes are coming and what is staying the same.”
Kuester said she thinks students are in the dark about the Student Association works on behind the scenes.
“Once students realize that there are people advocating for them — fighting for them — on the academic, that communication can be raised,” said Kuester.
She also spoke on the lack of diversity in certain fields.
“We can really show UWM that it doesn’t matter your gender, or your skin color, or your religion, said Kuester. “You have a place in the classroom and you should be treated the same.”
Presidential candidates Hernandez and Sportiello followed. Sportiello is the incumbent running for re-election. Hernandez is a first generation college student. They each addressed their interest in promoting sexual assault awareness.
“This problem really does affect everyone,” said Sportiello. “People really don’t feel comfortable talking about it.”
“I have friends in the UW System and back at home who are survivors,” said Hernandez. “The biggest thing that they told me was ‘the support from their college community was the biggest thing that help them.”
They want to implement a Bystanders Intervention Program to help prevent sexual assault and other domestic violence incidents. Hernandez and Sportiello also talked about helping the Student Association get involved with campus organizations centered on minority communities and retention.
“Our students of color population has a powerful presence on campus and they have a lot to offer,” said Hernandez.
“One of the reasons that so many students of color drop out is because they don’t feel supported,” said Sportiello. “That’s one of the big issues we have.”
VPSA Jung and Smeaton spoke next. Jung stated that he is running for inclusion, sustainability and transportation.
“I believe that everyone at UWM deserves to be a part of a greater community,” said Jung.
Smeaton wants to help teach students the values of youth leadership. She’s interested in creating a voice for students cultural organizations.
“Youth leadership is the foundation is what I hope to achieve,” said Smeaton. “Leadership is one of the most important things we can teach.”
Jung and Smeaton also touched on student problems with transportation and sustainability on campus; Jung pointed out that UWM is the largest public institution with a public share with a bike share program (Bublr).
“Sustainability is part of my platform,” said Jung. “It’s very important.”
“We have the ability to be more sustainable,” said Smeaton.
The Election Kickoff starts on April 4 and polls will open April 5