Four Candidates Prepare for Approaching Virtual ASUU Election

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The ASUU offices in the Ray A. Olpin Student Union. (Chronicle archives.)

By Porshai Nielsen, News Writer

 

Despite the ongoing pandemic, ASUU will move forward with the 2021 student government election with COVID-19 safety precautions in place. 

Similar to the 2020 election cycle, there are four presidential candidates running: Jacob Paul, Jessica Wojciechowski, Alejandro Sanchez and Alexandra Nestel. 

Interviewed via email, each candidate discussed why they are running and what they have to offer to students and faculty at the University of Utah. Issues such as pandemic-related safety, hate speech, and gender/race equality were discussed by each ticket as well. 

Wojciechowski said her number one concern is focused on supporting students during the COVID-19 pandemic through four platform pieces:

Accessibility, affordability, safety, and solidarity. Students need access to closed captioning for all classes and events, free mental health care, PPE, testing, and vaccinations. We can’t move forward without supporting students through this pandemic, and especially those who have been most disproportionately affected by it,” Wojciechowski said. 

Wojciechowski is running with Tiffany Chan, who currently serves in the ASUU senate, and Maryan Shale, who is the president of the Black Student Union. As a ticket, Wojciechowski said there will be BIPOC students at the table for every discussion they have. 

The Wojciechowski ticket is one of the first to be composed of all female candidates. 

The pandemic has brought issues for the candidates to consider. Paul believes the biggest issue that he would like to change has to do with how campus has been functioning during the pandemic. 

“The permanent answer should not be Zoom. There is a great opportunity to be the leading example in the nation with how a campus should function during COVID while being safe,” Paul said. 

Paul has experience leading a group of people throughout the pandemic, as he was the Chapter President of Sigma Chi at the U. He said he worked to keep the COVID-19 positive numbers down in his fraternity.

“As president, my team and I had to learn how to still engage the brothers [while] enforcing a strict mask policy and a sign-in sheet where the brothers would sign in, take their temperature and make sure there were not too many people signed into the house,” Paul said. 

Paul also expressed concern about elections being held online, including campaign events. Paul is running with Ethan Cuello, a third-year finance major, and Olivia Teerlink, a fourth-year psychology and sociology major. 

Similarly, Sanchez believes the transition to a new normal on campus is something important to focus on. 

“There is high hopes to have a normal year by the time next fall comes. We will work with administrators to ensure student input and views are met, with the goal to start giving back to students the best college experience here at the University of Utah,” Sanchez said. 

Sanchez also discussed improving safety for students living in upper campus dorms. He said Lassonde has a reception desk and higher security in comparison to the dorms like Chap Glen, where once someone enters the building, they have access to everything. 

“Therefore, [this] makes dorm life less safe and a higher percentage chance of hazards, for instance, stalkers. We plan to implement safety guidelines that would help improve upper campus safety. The University of Utah continuously receives a larger freshman class as the years progress, and new incoming students as well as current students should feel safe anywhere on campus,” Sanchez said. 

Nestel said she too agrees there is a high risk of sexual and interpersonal violence on campus. As a Peer Health Educator, Nestel has worked in addressing rape culture, rape myths, and gender identity by providing resources that confront this type of violence on campus. 

Nestel is running with Andrew Stender, a third-year student studying Computer Science, and Tracey Mai, a third-year student studying Health Promotion and Emergency Medical Services. 

“We are dedicated to ‘Making the U Work for You!’ But that is more than just a slogan… that is a promise we as a ticket make to the student body to listen honestly and constantly so we can serve as true advocates for all students,” Nestel said. 

The election-related will be held online, including campaigning, beginning Feb. 8 and ending Feb. 25. Primary elections will take place from Feb. 15-19 and the general election will be held Feb. 22-25 with results announced Feb. 26, 2021. For more information, visit the ASUU Elections website.

 

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@porshainielsen