The Daily Campus Editorial Board met with each of the candidates for Student Body President, Vice President and Secretary to hear their platforms and offer our commentary and clear endorsement of a candidate for each position.
PRESIDENT: Ramon Trespalacios
While endorsing incumbent Ramon Trespalacios in the nontraditional sense of not needing to place his recommendation over another candidate, our reasons for support of his candidacy and anticipated election were made clear while discussing with him his goals for new programs, continued work on existing initiatives and his overall commitment for bettering SMU in the long run.
Trespalacios ran very much on a platform of unity last spring, and his follow-through on building community amongst students has been clear throughout his presidency this year. But, he also recognizes that change does not happen overnight and there is far more that can and needs to be done to work toward goals of greater tolerance and community building. Trespalacios is looking to focus especially on the, “minority groups [that] don’t feel included due to the actions of a few.” We are in support of his plans to empower the larger community outside of those “few” to combat the influence that could be had by the negative outliers.
In tandem with his goals of community engagement and union is Trespalacios’ goals for the SMU Values Statement, which he first began to write and prioritize at the beginning of his current term. Trespalacios wants to make this statement have, essentially, an omnipresence within campus culture — something signed prior to taking an exam, lettered out above the entrance to various buildings on campus and more. The tangibility of consistent reminders of the statement that all students have identified with and signed will bring students together from a values standpoint that could potentially provide a level of accountability and trust to unify students.
One other of Trespalacios’ more significant changes is greater involvement of the entire Senate with the student body. In reflecting on his first weeks as president in fall 2013, Trespalacios said he realized that far more could be implemented and accomplished through active delegation — one example being involving the entire Senate chamber, rather than just executive members, in building legislation from the start. By engaging the senators representing specific schools and sections of the student body in the early stages of proposals, there is a better opportunity for student concerns to be acknowledged and taken into consideration.
Trespalacios is running unopposed for Student Body President. He will be the first student body president in SMU history to serve two terms.
VICE PRESIDENT: William O’Connor
William O’Connor won our endorsement for Vice President with his articulate and tangible platform points that address issues imperative to the student body and university as a whole both in the short-run and in looking ahead to many future classes of Mustangs. His direct connections to the student body were largely unmatched by opposing candidates. As a Resident Assistant and former leader for AARO and Mustang Corral, as well as leadership in SMU’s Alternative Breaks program, O’Connor has a well-developed understanding and on-going engagement with the people the legislation is ultimately for.
O’Connor’s emphasis on re-vamping Mustang Corral from an experience of mutual discomfort to true student-to-student connections from a positive and transformative experience was key. His plans to break beyond the current thought barriers of three-day camp consisting of yearly, unchanging traditions would allow Corral to become a program that students look forward to attending and provide Corral the opportunity to experiment with new options outside any self-imposed restrictions that might break tradition. O’Connor suggested a first evening that would allow first-years to explore Dallas and meet their new city outside of the SMU bubble and bar scene. He would also look at the dynamic programs of other schools that offer sessions throughout the summer and in places around the country and even internationally as inspiration to build upon.
O’Connor shared his “reach” goal that we as an Editorial Board feel is especially relevant and important for the SMU community. The issue of tuition increases and stagnant scholarship awards for the majority of scholarship programs is an issue that affects retention and student opportunities. O’Connor would look to work with the Board of Trustees to address this issue and implement policy and institutional changes that would allow scholarships to grow and match tuition burdens.
We would like to note that the other two other candidates for the position, Monica Finnegan and Chase Harker, were both strong contenders. Finnegan’s experience within Senate as Chief of Staff and Speaker give her a leg-up in understanding the routine processes of Senate. However, her platform lacked a clear vision of how she would actually address the issues at hand.
Harker spoke to the need of building a Senate that would fuel the passions and platforms individual senators originally run on that would strengthen the legislative ties between student needs and actual implementations. His policy objectives seemed better suited for a behind-the-scenes position that would allow him to focus all his energy on working through the details of Senate procedure.
SECRETARY: Anna Norkett
We endorse Anna Norkett for Secretary after hearing the changes she is looking to make in Senate and the fact that she has already begun to experiment with and implement some of her goals in her current position. In looking to increase access by the student body and campus organizations to senators, Norkett recently trialed holding Meadows senators’ office hours in the Meadows building — a Senate-wide change that we feel is essential to breaking the divide between senators and their constituents.
Norkett would also seek to make the weekly senate meetings more easily accessible to students by decreasing the time between the meeting and the online posting of minutes, as well as by offering a quick-look breakdown of the issues the Senate would currently be discussing for students to remain active in their Senate and follow along with the happenings that would be affecting them directly.
The second secretary candidate Elliott Bouillion also proved a strong opponent. His suggestions for creating a weekly email, similar to the Friday Update, that would break down the current issue discussions in Senate for the student body was an idea we were greatly intrigued by.
Opinions expressed in each unsigned editorial represent a consensus decision of the editorial board. All other columns reflect the views of individual authors and not necessarily those of the editorial staff.