Elections for Washburn Student Government are officially underway.
The Feb. 21 meeting of WSGA featured the president and vice president teams of Zac Surritt and Jim Henry, and Jack Siebert and Sydney Fox, announcing their candidacies.
For Siebert, a sophomore communications major, his time as the administrative assistant of WSGA this past year helped show him that some change needs to happen.
“I believe in [the idea of] don’t just complain about something if you’re not going to try and fix it,” Siebert said. “A big reason I wanted to run is that WSGA could be serving its students in a more capable manner and right now we’re not doing that. Instead of gossiping and complaining about it to friends I’d rather do something.”
The Siebert-Fox campaign is running on three main points.
The first is student wellness. Siebert said that this includes both physical and mental health. He believes that there are many services on campus that are under utilized that can be promoted better.
“We have things such as $5 STD testing,” Siebert said. “People don’t really take advantage of that. When you’re out of college, that sort of testing and check-ups, those things cost a lot of money.”
In addition to health services already available, Siebert is also hoping that Washburn can expand its health services to things such as substance abuse support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.
The second point for the Siebert-Fox campaign is campus safety. Siebert hopes to accomplish this in a few ways. The active bystander training is something that Washburn has been doing for a while, but Siebert believes that it would be helpful to promote it to all campus organizations.
“We want to use [the] iConnect program,” Siebert said. “It’s a program WSGA uses where senators are paired up with an organization.”
Siebert said that he knows the more people and organizations are involved with the bystander program, the better off the campus will be.
“There’s studies that show that these sort of trainings actually do help,” Siebert said. “People are more likely to not engage in certain manners after they’ve heard these tips.”
Siebert noted that he has been through the training, and Fox is actually a facilitator for the program and that it has helped him.
The other part of campus safety that the Siebert-Fox team is campaigning for is better community interaction with the Washburn University Police Department.
“The fact that they’re campus police, the Washburn community should at least know who these people are,” Siebert said. “People will feel more comfortable calling them and asking them to walk them to their dorm.”
Siebert said that they have been in contact with the department, including Chief Chris Enos, and that it could benefit both the community and the police department.
Third, the Siebert-Fox team is hoping to expand technological improvements on campus. A big part of that is the implementation of digital ICards. Siebert said that he has done a lot of research on the topic and believes that it is something that Washburn could benefit from.
“I’ve lost my ICard a few times or forgotten it at home when I needed it,” Siebert said.
Other tech updates include an update to the main Washburn website and the utilization of open access resources in classes, especially to cut down on the cost of things like textbooks.
While the team of Siebert-Fox is using these three points to run their campaign, they are also open to other ideas, and are hoping that other students will engage in conversation. They have been tabling, and will continue to table throughout the campaign to talk with students about issues that are important to them.
“I’m loving tabling honestly,” Siebert said. “I get to have these one-on-one conversations with people and get them to look at my platform.”
The other team running is not new to campaigning. Zac Surritt, along with his running mate Jim Henry, ran for president in last year’s election, losing to Alexis Simmons and Scott Weinkauf by only 10 votes. The loss did not deter Surritt from staying involved with WSGA.
“I think that even as devastating as it was, it was still my passion and still something that I needed to do,” Surrit said. “So I became budget director. I think that looking back, I really value my experience because if I hadn’t have lost, I think that I would’ve done a good job, but I think that now I can do even better, having both executive and senate experience.”
The Surritt-Henry campaign is running on a campaign of a variety of points.
“I think the great part is that Jim and I have a nice split in passions,” Surrit said. “I’m very passionate about topics like accountability and transparency. Jim is very passionate about Chartwells, dining services and catering, as I feel a lot of students are passionately opinionated about that.”
Surritt said that both he and Henry are in favor of textbook price matching on campus. Surritt has experience working in the Ichabod Shop.
Like the Siebert-Fox campaign, Surritt and Henry are making counseling and health services a key point in their campaign.
“Sydney Fox and I had both written resolutions for counseling and health services while we were senators,” Surritt said.
Surritt said that he believes his involvement with a lot of organizations on campus and his conversations with them helps him understand students at Washburn.
His previous experience of last year’s election taught Surritt a lot about himself and how he goes about conducting his campaign. Surritt feels that he might have taken the last campaign a little too seriously.
“For four weeks, I don’t think there was a day I didn’t wear a suit,” Surritt said. “I showed up to all these meetings wearing a suit. It didn’t matter if I was talking to five people or 50 people.”
Surritt said he realized that while it can seem more professional, his dress might have given off the impression that he was better than everybody else.
“As the year’s gone on I’ve realized that it’s good to take it seriously,” Surritt said. “At the same time, [I’ve realized] that we’re all just students. No one is going to take you any more or less seriously in a suit than in sweatpants.”
Surritt said that this time around he plans to take things in not a less serious way from last year, but a more relaxed approach.
Surritt said that overall his campaign was based around something simple.
“The campaign is summed up really well in [the slogan] Creating a WU for You, however [students] want to interpret that,” Surritt said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing our absolute best and working tirelessly to make sure that the university hears what we have to say.”
WSGA campaigns continues with an opportunity to meet the candidates from noon to 1 p.m. today, Feb. 28 in the Union Underground, in which the candidates will have a moderated panel discussion. After the panel, students can submit questions that might arise which will be collected. At 7 p.m. March 7 in Mabee Library, the candidates will engage in a debate with questions submitted previously as well as new questions from social media. Finally, the election culminates with voting which will take place March 12-14 with the winners announced March 16.