VanderToolen Ticket Runs Unopposed in 2022 ASUU Presidential Election


(Courtesy VanderToolen Ticket)

By Kayleigh Silverstein, Special Projects Managing Editor, News Writer

In the past four years at the University of Utah, two ASUU presidencies have run uncontested, the Barnes and Morgan Tickets.

This year, the VanderToolen Ticket joins these two tickets as Presidential candidate Taylor VanderToolen, Vice President of University Relations candidate Benvin Lozada and Vice President of Student Relations candidate Ashlee Roberts run unopposed for the 2022-23 school year.

Andrew Stender, the ASUU elections board director, said while the ticket is running unopposed, there is still a chance that enough of the student body will choose “None of These Candidates” on their ballot.

“If the student body does feel as though the ticket will not accurately represent them, there is the possibility for a vote of no confidence,” Stender said in an email comment. “If that option receives more than half of the votes, the candidates will not step into office.”

Stender said this possibility means the ticket still has to prove their merit to the student body prior to the election.

“Having no opposition puts the ticket in a unique place to start working and hearing from the student body even earlier as they prepare to assume their respective roles,” Stender said.

The VanderToolen ticket wants students to know they will listen to experiences different from their own and elevate student voices if they were to be elected.

In an email interview with members of the ticket, they addressed their main platform concerns, changes they hope to make to the U, student safety on campus and more.

The VanderToolen Ticket’s platform is based on three pillars: community, advocacy and inclusivity, each represented by a different member of the ticket.

“We are running to represent students, their experiences and the issues that we as a campus community are passionate about,” VanderToolen said. “We are committed to empowering the student voice by increasing student involvement, building bridges between students and university leadership and providing the tools necessary to ensure everyone has the best experience they can during their time at the University of Utah.”

VanderToolen, Lozada and Roberts all have had connections to the U their entire life.

“My mom and sister are both graduates from the U, and I want to follow in their footsteps,” Roberts said. “Also, coming from an indigenous background, I understand the importance of inclusivity. I want all students to feel welcomed at this university and make the environment a place where students seek innovation, education and excitement.”

The biggest issue the VanderToolen Ticket aims to address is the structure of ASUU and how it impacts students.

“We’re here to solve the needs of the students and we want to listen to and make those issues known to the university leadership,” Lozada said. “This begins with creating strong relationships with partners in the university community and bringing the concerns and problems that students are facing, no matter how small, to their attention.”

The ticket also believes engagement in the ASUU election process is not where it needs to be. They hope to increase this by reaching out to more student organizations throughout their campaigning process and being available through social media and email.

“While we encourage all members of our campus community to take part in the election process, we believe that it is our ticket’s responsibility to reach out and provide space for students and student organizations,” Roberts said. “These efforts will be focused on those who do not engage in the elections process, in order to help inform them of the goals of our ticket and how we can work to best represent them.”

Accessibility and affordability of student parking is another issue the ticket hopes to address.

“In our current system, we have commuter students sometimes coming from miles away to full parking lots despite paying for the privilege of parking on the campus,” Lozada said. “At the same time, we have students living in campus housing who are forced to walk alone late at night to their dorms as a result of the distance large parking lots are away from many HRE facilities.”

To combat this problem, they plan to expand the SafeRide Program, increase lighting in parking lots and improve communication with students about parking lots to be added or removed on campus.

The ticket mentioned a staffing shortage within Housing and Residential Education which they believe to be negatively impacting students by removing lines of support and overworking existing staff. In addition, they hope to reform student leader training and the Residential Learning Model to more adequately address hate crimes and relationship and sexual violence.

Roberts said they hear and understand the various concerns about safety and racism on campus and appreciate the work UnsafeU has done to advocate for student safety.

“In this vein, we look to follow this lead by taking Lauren’s Promise, advocating for the implementation and execution of Senate Bill 163, working with the McCluskey Foundation and building a robust campus safety infrastructure through collaboration with university resources such as the McCluskey Center for Violence Prevention and student organizations such as SafeU and It’s On Us to work towards building a safer campus community,” Roberts said.

To address student concerns of safety on campus, the VanderToolen ticket also wants to establish a Campus Safety Board within ASUU to connect students with groups on campus involved in campus safety, such as HRE and the U Police Department.

They also want to elevate more women to positions of power and create more inclusive spaces for those in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We’re also incredibly proud to see the achievements of women like Sabah Sial for becoming a Rhodes Scholar and representing our university so magnificently,” Roberts said. “However, we acknowledge that in our community, and particularly in areas like STEM fields, there are historic, institutionalized levels of sexism that need to be addressed.”

In regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VanderToolen Ticket supports student choice, and wants there to be both safe in-person and online options for students to feel comfortable getting the education they deserve.

Through regular meetings with university leadership, the VanderToolen Ticket hopes to unite student government, student organizations and the broader campus community by advocating for student issues and creating effective communication.

“The primary task of elected representatives is to advocate for their constituents, and we are no different,” Lozada said. “While we may face situations where we are outnumbered or facing those with greater power, we will be transparent about the situation and challenges that we are facing, solicit feedback from students and use our position to advocate alongside the student body.”

As they move forward in their campaigning journey, the VanderToolen Ticket welcomes communication from students and organizations through their email, [email protected].


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