Students First: Party a multi-faceted communications forum for students’ concerns

Ali Hasnain and John Poelman lead the Students First Party. The name comes from how the two created the platform. The party asked 400 random students what they wanted in the Associated Students of the University of Utah.

“We found that students’ concerns fall into three issues: communication, finance and perspective,” Poelman said.

The party’s plan to improve communication is to help students know what’s going on with campus life and the services available to them.

“The majority of students do not know about the things taking place,” Hasnain said.

Hasnain and Poelman said they want to develop a multifaceted communication scheme that includes a centralized campus calendar in both physical and electronic forms, improving the U-Life newsletter and sending it out to all students. They also said they want to be seen by students during the whole year, not just during elections week.

The party said it wants to help alleviate the students’ financial burden with tuition, textbooks, housing and food. To do that, Students First plans to promote lobbying of the state Legislature to the “fullest extent possible” to keep tuition down.

“We can effectively communicate our needs by combining with other [higher education institutions] from around the state,” Hasnain said. “As we do this, we can cut down the significant rises in tuition.”

In addition, the party will promote the UCard program that Poelman created as an ASUU board director to raise revenue for ASUU. So far, that program has saved students more than $14,000 at the bookstore this school year.

“We will take these profits and put them into better programming, child care and scholarship funds,” Poelman said. They also plan to apply half of the profits to reduce student fees.

“In this way we will save students money through providing store discounts and collecting transaction fees,” Poelman said.

During their survey, Hasnain and Poelman said they found out that students want proportional representation and a broader perspective of their student government.

Hasnain has worked at the U in several capacities: Chronicle News Editor, ASUU Diversity Board Director, Orientation Leader and ASUU Assembly Representative. He also ran for vice president of the RE: Party last year.

Poelman has served as the ASUU Director of Student Services, co-Director of “Helping Hands, Helping Hearts” at the Bennion Community Service Center, Coordinator of the ASUU U-Card program, member of the Student Broadcasting Council and member of the ASUU Tutoring Center Board.

Poelman also managed the relocation of unused courtesy phones that cut $4,000 in ASUU costs.

“Our main difference lies in our approach to writing our platform and subsequently in setting the agenda for our administraton,” Poelman said. “We are putting our own personal agendas aside and doing what the students want. We are literally putting the students first.”

[email protected]