Election Guide 2014: Candidates for President
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Election Guide 2014: Candidates for President

Traditionally, MCSG sends us biographies of the candidates for us to publish, but this year we opted to distribute our own questionnaire to all the candidates. We hope that these responses are informative and helpful as you go about making your decisions on who to vote for this year. We have chosen not to endorse candidates this year.

Richard Raya ’15

richardraya(FB)

Why are you running for this position?

I want to become intimately involved in the governance of my school in a way that has always appealed to me but that I have never done. Beyond that, I genuinely think my skill set makes me an excellent choice, that I can excel in the position and that having me as President can positively affect MCSG and students’ relation to it.

What experience do you bring to this position, and what do you think you could contribute to MCSG and the Macalester community if elected?

I bring experience as a facilitator in a wide variety of capacities. From serving as Opinion editor, an RA, and a co-facilitator of the Men of Color Collective, I have developed my abilities as a discussion leader and a leader in general. Even when workshopping a comedy sketch, there is a fair amount of consensus building involved. Having been in multiple leadership roles, I have experience in delegating tasks and facilitating communication. If elected I could contribute my creativity, optimism, energy, insight and humor.

What goals do you hope to achieve if elected?

I hope to bring renewed energy and inspiration to MCSG as a whole. Part of this means meeting with committees and talking with other students to brainstorm new projects, but I really look forward to turning a fresh eye toward what we already have in place at Mac, and as to how that can be improved. How are students incentivized to interact with MCSG? How do we increase voter turnout? How can we ensure that students arrive at Mac with an understanding of the complex identities and backgrounds of their peers that they may just be seeing for the first time? Can we make sure every incoming student knows what hegemony means? Can we revisit things like academic requirements and conduct and disciplinary processes?

How would you describe your leadership style?

Definitely the “goofy older brother” style! Meetings and conversations with me are never stuffy or boring. That said, I know how to bring a group back to the task at hand, keep everyone motivated and offer suggestion while not dominating the conversation. I can shift gears and act as a translator with ease, making sure people understand each others’ ideas, that students are engaged and that the administration knows we’re on task. Additionally, I’ve long prided myself on an ability to quickly boil down a situation to its core themes, whether skimming a dense text or analyzing an opponent’s fighting style in the martial arts club. This helps me focus on what’s important in the task at hand as well as tailor my leadership according to each team member, learning what energizes them and what I can count on them for.

Is there anything you would change about MCSG? If so, how would you seek to achieve that?

Right now I think there is widespread apathy concerning MCSG because the average student does not know where they fit into its many processes and facets. I want to simply be more communicative and direct so students understand exactly how and when they can make MCSG work for them.

How would you bring a sense of leadership to MCSG and Macalester?

By maintaining an accessible, energetic and constant presence. Part of working toward a proactive MCSG is being a proactive president. I’ll work to expedite communication between various branches of MCSG, orgs and students, serving as a reliable go-between. This, combined with my analytical and conversation-facilitating skills, I hope will provide a leadership people feel they can count on.

What do you consider to be the most important duty of the MCSG President?

To be a conduit, the pool in which reactions can take place. This entails asking for ideas from the student body, from committees, and coming up with ideas on one’s own, and then doing all the legwork necessary to ensure that the people who need to talk do talk to get a project off the ground. Additionally, a leader is only as strong as the team behind them, and teams function on synergy and understanding. To this end, a president with a personal touch, who perfectly understands their teammates’ strengths and responsibilities, can most effectively manage and delegate tasks.

Sarah Vandelist ’15

sarahvendelist(FB)

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for this position because I know I have the experience, knowledge, leadership style and personality to lead Macalester College Student Government. Being a part of MCSG for three years as a class representative, I have a perspective that allows me to understand the inner-workings of MCSG and the largest problems currently facing student government. It also allows me to have the skills and knowledge to know how to develop solutions to start solving those problems.

What experience do you bring to this position, and what do you think you could contribute to MCSG and the Macalester community if elected?

As president, I would bring my three years serving as class representative on MCSG, which included one year serving on the Student Organizations Committee (SOC) and two years serving on the SSRC (Student Services Relations Committee) to the table. If elected, I could contribute my vast experience and knowledge about the history of MCSG and the solutions that have been most effective in solving problems and enacting real change. I also am a creative problem solver who believes that all voices should be heard before making a decision and would bring those skills and that perspective to the table.

What goals do you hope to achieve if elected?

If elected, I would want to continue to advocate to expand services critical to students’ health and well-being at Macalester. I would also want to continue to make MCSG more transparent and approachable to the broader student body. MCSG should be a body elected by the people and for the people; identifying problems currently facing students and working to fix them is ultimately what MCSG needs to do and under my leadership, we would work even harder to represent all students.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style is to be an authority but treat everyone as equals in power and ideas. Everyone in the LB, and student body, should be treated as an equal and their opinions should be heard. I think it is always more important to listen than to talk and to discuss rather than debate. I try to adopt other people’s perspectives as much as possible and lead in a way that takes everyone into account. I would rather lead by example then direct and dominate. I would bring this attitude, that I am there to lend support and insight, not to direct and dominate, to my role as president and would want everyone to walk away feeling like their voice was heard and mattered.

Is there anything you would change about MCSG? If so, how would you seek to achieve that?

Within MCSG, I would change the way meetings are conducted and the attitude that goes into meetings, specifically how discussions and debates are typically handled. I often find people are not listening to one another during meetings, rather just waiting for their turn to speak their opinion. As there is a limited amount of time for meetings, when one person is talking they are taking the chance from someone else to speak and often some representatives voices are heard louder than others, making it so one perspective can begin to dominate discussion and cloud judgement. If everyone listened more and spoke constructively, the LB would be a safer, more dynamic space rather than one that often feels like people are talking to hear their own voice reinforce their unwavering opinion.

How would you bring a sense of leadership to MCSG and Macalester?

If I was elected president, I would bring a sense of leadership to the position by being willing to take strong stances that seek to represent the student voice. I would communicate those stances effectively to anyone who needed to hear them, be that faculty, staff administrators, or the community outside of Macalester. By communicating the student perspective clearly, while listening to all student voices, I could stand tall as a leader that wasn’t afraid to say what she thought and what her college stood for, according to her constituents.

The most important role of the MSCG president is to be an example to the LB and the broader Macalester community. They need to be informed of all of the issues facing Macalester and not be afraid to ask questions that will teach them more about how to best strive towards solutions. They need to get different perspectives before making recommendations and need to listen to those around them before setting forth on anything that would impact students. They need to be able communicate effectively and relate to a broad base of different people, so that they can best lead those around them by showing what it means to be a powerful, efficient leader of the people.

Samuel Doten ’16

samdoten(MCSG)

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for president because I have a passion for responsible and responsive governance. In my two terms on the [Legislative Body], I have seen many problems in the functioning of MCSG. I believe it takes a person with experience and expertise to fix these problems and begin working on substantial issues. I want to improve MCSG and bring a new standard of excellence to our student government.

What experience do you bring to this position, and what do you think you could contribute to MCSG and the Macalester community if elected?

I have been an MCSG representative for two terms where I have taken leadership on many issues, including trans*, gender non-conforming, and intersex inclusivity. My one semester removed from MCSG gave me perspective on the limits of MCSG power. Additionally, my efforts to create a Task Force on Membership Requirements (TMR) and my work on the TMR have given me deep knowledge of the relationship between MCSG and Macalester College as a whole. These experiences prepare me to contribute substantially to MCSG and the wider community. One major plank of my platform is increasing the role of MCSG in student activism. As part of this, I would bring monthly community forums on a variety of topics, bringing students together to discuss important issues.

What goals do you hope to achieve if elected?

My primary goal is to increase student input and power in decision-making at Macalester on all issues. I want every student to know that their voice and opinions are valued and will be listened to. We achieve this by building a strong, professional, and accountable student government that is respected by administrators. By having an effective student government, every student will have a primary resource to make their voice heard.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I am a highly intuitive person who does not seek to command attention. Rather, I take a subtle approach on issues, stating my opinions without forcing them on others. My priority is to work closely with individuals and organizations on meaningful solutions, rather than making promises I cannot fulfill.

Is there anything you would change about MCSG? If so, how would you seek to achieve that?

Two major points on my platform are professionalization and transparency & accountability. Often, the LB passes excellent and forward-thinking resolutions, but fails to follow up or demonstrate a commitment to these resolutions. We must be professional by not only taking initiative, but by fulfilling commitments. Changes in transparency and accountability include always following the bylaws, posting minutes in a timely manner, delivering agendas on time and reporting directly to the Student Body. These basic administrative tasks cannot be neglected. How could we possibly go above and beyond when minutes are posted a month late and agendas are distributed mere hours before meetings?

How would you bring a sense of leadership to MCSG and Macalester?

I would bring a sense of leadership through leading by example, demonstrating a standard of excellence through my own actions before expecting that of representatives. I will not command attention in meetings nor elevate my own opinion above others. I will build strong relationships within MCSG by making a concerted effort to meet with and support individual representatives to lead on issues they care about.

What do you consider to be the most important duty of the MCSG President?

The most important duty of MCSG President is to act as a spokesperson of the student body. A president cannot idly sit by pushing paperwork and attending meetings. The president must be proactive in working for students. I have the experience, expertise and right attitude to be an effective spokesperson for the student body.

Rick Beckel ’15

rickbeckel(FB)

Editor’s note: Beckel is currently studying abroad in Ecuador, and was without internet access when these publications were being solicited. This statement was submitted on his behalf by individuals associated with his campaign.

Hello Mac! I am a Biology major, Political Science/Environmental Studies minor, and I would love to represent you as MCSG President my senior year.

My broad involvement with student organizations has taught me how crucial they are to our vibrant campus life. Beyond frequently holding exciting events, orgs represent an avenue to promote political and social issues on and off campus. As president, I would champion student initiatives and foster dialogue between administration and students. MCSG can do this by appointing a representative to act as a liaison and go-to resource for each student campaign. With the imminent implementation of the 2014 Strategic Plan, now is a critical time for administration to hear our voices so we can make progress on issues like mental health and domestic student and faculty diversity.

Students unaffiliated with orgs also have opportunities to pursue programming and fulfill their innovative ideas through the Community Chest fund. This is just one underutilized resource-sharing opportunity Mac offers that I’d promote—we can increase usage of other programs on-campus (BikeShare, Textbook Rental) and off (strengthening ties with HourCar/NiceRide so we can better explore the Cities).

Although I have not been an MCSG representative in the past, I am familiar with the body and campus decision-making procedures in general through my initiatives as a student activist/org leader and Sustainability Office worker. As an MCSG “outsider,” I will bring a valuable fresh perspective and conciliatory presence to a body that has struggled with conflict in recent years.

Rothin Datta ’16

Rothin

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for president because I think that I have the unique combination of MCSG experience and student focused goals that could really make MCSG more effective and accessible to the student body next year. The president sets their own agenda and I think the freedom that the role provides will allow me to focus on my goals as well as improving student outreach.

What experience do you bring to this position, and what do you think you could contribute to MCSG and the Macalester community if elected?

I am an international student and an RA, both of which allow me to truly interact with the diverse student body and its variety of voices and opinions. I have also worked this year as Vice President and have a unique understanding of the role of the president that will make it much easier for me to hit the ground running and make the most of the position.

What goals do you hope to achieve if elected?

My 5 main goals this year are to:

-Efficiently spend the $221 paid by each student as Student Activity Fees and avoid a rollover of $90,000 like last year.

  • Improve mental health facilities on campus and have Health and Wellness open on weekends.

  • Ensure international students are able to study abroad with financial aid.

  • Provide better funding for club sports.

  • Improve student attendance at athletic events.

How would you describe your leadership style?

My leadership style is extremely collaborative. I think the MCSG president does a lot of facilitating and making sure great ideas are followed through wherever they might come from. I think constant dialogue is important so that everyone is always on the same page and holding each other accountable. A great leader delegates, supervises and jumps in when they’re needed without feeling the need to micromanage.

How would you bring a sense of leadership to MCSG and Macalester?

Like I mentioned before, I have worked closely with the president and have a great understanding of the role. While the MCSG president is a leader for the legislative body, they are first and foremost the leader of the executive board, which I think is a crucial role. The executive board pretty much sets the agenda for the year and I think I would really focus my time on ensuring that the issues addressed by MCSG next year are ones that yield tangible results. I would like to see MCSG begin the year with surveys and outreach so we don’t spend time guessing what the student body cares about. I would also like to introduce office hours for all MCSG representatives so students have somewhere to go at all times to talk about issues they might have on campus.

What do you consider to be the most important duty of the MCSG President?

As I mentioned before, I think leading the legislative body and executive board are crucial duties of the MCSG president. That being said, I think the beauty of the role is the large amount of flexibility that it grants. I strongly believe that the most important duty of the MCSG president is setting an agenda that reflects the needs of the student body and following through on it. That is why my campaign is focused more on my goals and less focused ideas about what a president should be like.

April 4, 2014

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