The election for Student Association begin today, and polls are open until midnight on April 16. Meet the candidates running to represent students at UW-Milwaukee.
Here are talks from the presidential candidates during the kick-off event beginning with Franco Ferrante:
Ryan Sorenson is a junior studying political science, and serves as the current president of the Student Association.
The last year has been a lunching pad for reforms and improvements, according to Sorenson, with developments like the Women’s Advocacy Committee as well as reforms in parking and sustainability. He hopes to continue executing these reforms as well as others next year.
“We planted a lot of seeds to grow and, as the student association, we have made tremendous strides and a lot of improvements on campus,” Sorenson said. “I want to continue working on that because our structure is still new and we’re still working a lot of kinks out.”
Sorenson noted the proposed budget cuts to be the biggest challenges facing UWM. While his communications with legislatures have been positive, he adds that it’s a tumultuous time for the university.
“The biggest thing is experience in this election,” Sorenson said. “We’re facing a lot of challenges … Really having someone that’s experienced and knows the avenues to address can make real solutions on campus.”
Mike Sportiello is a sophomore studying chemistry and philosophy. He is currently the vice-president of student housings administrative council. He’s the student org advocacy senator at the Student Association, and is a co-founder of TedxMilwakuee.
Sportiello said that he thinks that there is a lack of student leadership collaboration, and that is one of the main reasons he is running for president. His goal is to create more direct relationships between students and the Student Association.
“If we got a more direct communication between the student government here, and student orgs, we’d be a much more vibrant and healthy campus,” he said.
He is the project lead for a new group on campus called the Student Leaders Committee, which he said will help bring an official means of communication between student leaders, students they represent and the Student Association.
Sportiello said his three main goals are to unite the student, showcase UWM, and secure education. He said again that getting student leaders to work together is important to his goals, along with collaborating with regents and state politicians.
Franco Ferrante is studying political science. Over the last weeks he has called for greater transparency, visibility and communication between the SA and students.
“Transparency is vital to the work that we can accomplish together, as president I will address the entire student body every step of the way as we strive for the future that you and I both know we can achieve,” Ferrante notes on the Student Association web site.
To learn more about Ferrante, click here.
Vice Presidential Candidate
Evan Braun is in his third year and is a musical theater performance major. He is currently the SA’s Vice-President for Student Affairs, and is running for the same position this year.
Braun believes the SA has a very strong voice on campus and looks forward to speaking with students about the association’s role as well as maintaining communication with different resources centers on campus
His goals are to continue with previous initiatives like the student union project, fighting for tuition equality for undocumented students, improving parking, among other goals.
“My main goals for the next school year are sexual assault prevention education for all incoming students … lowering or keeping student fees capped, and ensuring the budget cuts from the state do not impact campus services funded through student fees,” Braun said.
Brandi Hernandez is running for Vice President of Academic Affairs. She is a second year student majoring in global management and economics.
She currently serves as an At-Large Senator on the SA and has held seats in different committees such as the Senate Finance, Student Appropriations and the Women’s Advocacy Committee.
Hernandez is running on a platform to reach out, connect and advocate for greater campus engagement. She hopes students get out and vote.
“Many students don’t think it is important to vote but it is. It is important for them vote as the future will have an impact in either deciding or advocating for segregated fees, parking, budget cuts, student org funding and academics,” she said.
College of Letters and Science Senators
There are three positions available for the academic senate seat in the College of Letters and Science, with three students running.
Cole Meller is psychology and premedical student. He has served as General Body Representative and Business Manager of the Student Housing Administrative Council (SHAC).
He hopes to build stronger connections between students and their instructors as well as promote active involvement among students, faculty and staff.
“With my knowledge of residential governance and program creation, I believe that I can implement effective strategies to help reduce the amount of disconnect felt by students in regards to their academic careers,” Meller noted.
Raphael Allen is an economics major and is in his third year at UWM. He was a freshman senator his first year, and currently holds a College of Letters and Science Senate seat.
Through his time with the SA, he has met with faculty and Deans to learn about the issues and successes of the university. He hopes to work with other senators to write effective legislation, and to continue holding seats in various committees.
“… I hope to continue applying the lessons I’ve learned to represent the interest of the students in Letters and Science,” Allen said.
Peck School of the Arts Senators
Brian Erdrich is a second-year student and a theater major at UWM.
He was the Outreach and Recruitment Director for the summer and fall semester of 2014. The proposed budget cuts motivated him to run for the school’s senate seat. His focus is to fight the budget cuts and improve interdisciplinary work between the different programs within PSOA and other schools.
According to Erdrich, collaboration is key in order to represent the school’s student, faculty and staff.
“Amassing a large student voice, and having the right student groups and faculty members collaborate can create extremely powerful motions, works of art, and voices,” he said.
Molly Kiefer is a first-year student majoring in dance and psychology. Her leadership experience includes serving as vice president of the Terpsichorean People, a dance organization, co-chair of the fundraising committee for Panther Miracle Network Dance Marathon, and more.
She believes the arts are vital to the community and UWM because it fosters a sense of community and creativity. Kiefer says she will work to develop new relationships with faculty, staff and students across different disciplines in order to strengthen the school.
“I hope to raise awareness of the great work within the PSOA and find opportunities for more collaboration across the UWM campus,” she said.
School of Information Studies (SOIS) Senator
Casey Hartjes is a freshman and an information science and technology major. He’s a member of the SOIS student organization and the Google student ambassador team. Hartjes is the association’s current SOIS senator.
His experiences have allowed him to work closely with faculty, staff and students.
“…I’m constantly working with the school and its students to plan events, improve the school, and make it the best place it can be for everyone in it,” he noted.
College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Senator
Ilan Hirschman is a fourth-year student and a computer science major. He is the president of a computer science student organization.
His time at UWM has taught him of the various resources and opportunities the campus provides.
“… I think there’s a lot in the College of Engineering alone that the campus should know about,” he said.
Hirschman hopes to make these opportunities better known to students, and will work to spread sexual assault awareness. He also hopes to speak to faculty and staff about allocating resources.
There are 15 students on the ballot, with 10 spots available for candidates of senator-at-large. Read more about each candidate here.
Michelle R. Amidzich is a junior double majoring in journalism and political science. She was elected to be the secretary for the 2015-2016 secretary for UWM’s Mortar Board, which is a National College Senior Honor Society. She also has worked for U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
She said that her inspiration to run was the idea that she could be the voice for students who do not have the resources to talk to department leaders on campus.
“I can’t get elected without you, the student body,” Amidzich said. “So why wouldn’t I listen to what you want? It’s my job if elected.”
She said that some of her main goals are to improve recycling on camps, along with expanding restaurant operations to include more vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free alternatives. She also said she wants to look into a phone app to help with parking around campus.
Kristen Lango is a freshmen majoring in sociology. She is currently the first program representative for all sociology majors at UWM, a new seat implemented by the SA to increase ties between the sociology students and their representatives in the college of Letters and Science.
She said that her inspiration to run “is the idea of making the voice of the students hear to people who have the abilities to make changes at our school.”
She said if elected, she wants to increase communication between the languages department of Curtain Hall and the Center for International Education, and act as a spokesperson for them.
Lindsey Wavrunek is a fourth-year student and is studying human resources management. She has worked as a resident assistant for two years and has been a campus ambassador for undergraduate admissions for the past three years.
Wavrunek said she was moved to run because she has been involved with promoting the university, yet has not worked in impacting the university itself. She wants to help ensure that money spent in segregated fees is used in a way that will maximize the return to students in the face of the statewide budget cuts.
She said that she would like to see more transparency in student segregated fees and eventually reduce them overall.
“ I know how much of a burden it can be for students to afford their education and the amount of debt many of our students are incurring, and I would like to lighten that load,” she said.
Trevor Jung is a freshman majoring in urban studies. He is currently the president of West Tower Community Council in Sandburg hall and a freshman senator at the Student Association.
Jung said that he was always been motivated to work in public service and wants to help with the budget cut situation.
“I want to be involved in order to guarantee that we are making responsible decisions with every student in mind,” he said.
Jung said his platform is centered on community engagement, advocacy and university livability. He said if elected he would like to work to make UWM partner with more non-profits in the city of Milwaukee. He also said he is an avid supporter of the Women and LGBT Resource Centers’.
Paul Garni is a sophomore studying industrial engineering. He was a senator for the Student Association this past year and is part of the Young Americans for Liberty on campus.
He said that his mission is to represent interests to the students who elect him.
“I was elected last year (and hope to be re-elected this year) by the students, for the students” Garni said. “I will work with the faculty where I can, but remember: they didn’t elect me.”
He said he is running because he believes that students pay too much in segregated fees, and intends to stand strong against any rise in fees.
Thomas Kelly is a senior studying journalism and history. He is currently a senator-at-large at the Student Association. He also founded the Young Americans for Liberty on campus, and created Students for Economic Freedom.
Kelly said he wants to sure everyone at UWM has the opportunity to return to school, as he did, by making sure tuition and student fees are affordable and within reason.
He said that he would like to increase availability and resourcefulness of green initiatives on campus, such as cutting water usage and promotion of public transportation. He also wants to keep segregated fees at a reasonable limit, and creating an a la Carte system for services and facilities they specifically use.