Your campaign slogan is “A voice for you.” How do you plan on living up to this slogan, and where does this slogan come from?
“When we first started out and were deciding on a slogan, we had initially thought of something different. But, as the time went on, we decided that we wanted to be a voice for everybody, not just a particular group. … We didn’t pick people (for our cabinet) that were cut from the same cloth; we picked a diverse group of students from different backgrounds and different households and even different grade levels that we really wanted to focus on the students. What do the students want? Who are the students? Basically, focus on being a voice for them and advocating for their rights and interests. We do have a say in Student Government; I’ve been in Student Government the past three years, and the students have a voice in what goes on in university policy. So we really want to focus on the students so we can bring about change.”
What is your experience with Student Government?
“I served as a senator for fall of 2018 and spring of 2019. During those two years, I really focused on getting to know different club leaders.”
“When I was the Austrian Ambassador for the spring of 2020, we ended up getting our semester cut short. But we had planned the Austrian Ball, and we had also planned a Bingo night for everybody to come down, get food and drinks, and it was really going to be a fun time. Unfortunately, our time was cut short.
“I actually was elected before this past fall to be a senior senator; I was elected and that was the position that I was going to do, but when we came back to school, Athanasius (Sirilla) and Clem (Harold) reached out to me, and they were like, ‘Would you like to be our chief justice? We don’t have one yet for the campaign.’ I was so excited that they had asked me because I had been a senator previously, and to be able to serve in a new position and to be able to learn the ropes of something different was really exciting to do.
“I really feel like we’ve accomplished a lot this year. I’ve had a voice in everything that we’ve done. … There’s a lot that’s been going on, and like I said, we are a voice for you. This is what the students have wanted, this is what we’ve advocated for all year long.”
What are your main campaign goals? Have you taken concrete steps to actualize these goals?
“We have four main categories. That involves student life, normalcy on campus, spiritual health and transparency.
“When talking about student life, we’ve contacted the head of Student Life and we’ve been working with them to see what kind of events we are able to plan. I can’t reveal speakers or anything that we have yet, but we do plan on bringing in different speakers for events next year on campus as well as a band. This will pump everybody up and have normalcy back on campus.
“We want to advocate for more visitation hours and days in the dorms. We think that’s really important to bring back community at Franciscan University. I feel like this past year, we haven’t really had that. There’s been a total absence of community, and it was really hard last semester to see some of the freshmen just not thriving in the ways that they used to. We’re really going to focus on pushing the administration to bring that sense of normalcy and community back to campus because I really think that’s what makes Franciscan such a special place.
“One of the other things that we’ve talked about is spiritual health. I know there’s a lot of traditional people on campus that would like to see more of a Latin Mass on campus. We have also been working with the administration, asking them about Latin Mass shuttles on Sundays so we can provide those shuttles for students to go down to St. Peter’s on Sundays.”
“One of our team members actually, her name is Bridget Christenson — she’s the student support advocate candidate (and) she served on Net Ministries two years ago. We’re asking her to be a bridge between the students and our campaign team. We’re going to focus on spiritual health; we’re going to have prayer workshops for students to learn how to pray; we’re going to focus on tying in the spiritual and mental health aspect because I feel like they go hand-in-hand. Bridget actually lives at Catholic Familyland; her father is one of the people that runs it. We’ve asked her if we can host a once-a-semester retreat focusing on mental health and spiritual health and having that set aside, not being an on-campus thing, having an off-campus event where students are able to go, relax and learn more about their Catholic faith and dive deeper into that, which is really cool. So we’re super excited about that.
“One of the other things that we’re focusing on is transparency. With transparency, I feel like not a lot of students know what’s going on with Student Government or know what Student Government does. I have heard students say, ‘Well, Student Government is a joke,’ or, ‘We don’t really know what happens.’ One of the things that we’re planning is doing a Student Government newsletter either weekly or biweekly, and it will just outline everything that we talked about, what some of our goals are for the following weeks, the bills that we passed — things like that, which I think will be really helpful for the students.
“One of the other things we’ve talked about is kind of being the bridge between Parkhurst and the student body. There was a Parkhurst town hall just a couple days ago actually. One of the things that they mentioned was transparency. They get a lot of negative comments, so Student Government could be the bridge filtering out those negative comments and actually filtering in the ones that are going to bring about constructive criticism and bring about change. We really feel like that will be important.”
You mentioned transitioning back to normal campus life. Are there any steps that you’re planning to take to do that, especially if the COVID regulations stay in place and the state requires the university to continue social distancing? How do you plan to overcome that?
“If the school continues on with the track — because I know that the government is the one that decides the masks, the social distancing — if those still have to be in place, we are still going to try to push just for a little bit of normalcy. We were able to get visitation back in the dorms this past year, so that was really helpful. I think we can still continue to advocate for more days and hours, even on a Sunday. I know that so many people do homework on a Sunday together. You can’t always do that outside in the winter months.”
What kind of events do you have in mind for the Franciscan community? If COVID is still an issue, how are you going to put on and fund these events?
“Student Government does have a budget, and we are planning on using some of that money — because it is for the students, and we want to create events for the students. By using some of our own money, it will be going towards benefitting the community as a whole. We also are able to use some funds given to us from Student Life. We’ve already contacted them and they are planning on helping us out with different events. Some of our speakers that we have: We have somebody who’s more on the political spectrum. … We also are going to have somebody who’s a bit more traditional. … We have another speaker talking about the spiritual health of students. We’re really going to focus on the spirituality of Franciscan University because that’s really never been run on before in Student Government. Everybody focuses on mental health, which is very important, but we also want to focus on spiritual health as well.”
“One of the other things that we’ve talked about is having a party after the FOPs. I know when my brother went here a few years ago, they actually used to have parties after every FOP outside. … Everybody is so hyped up after a FOP … and then, they go to their rooms or maybe watch a movie. We really want to have an event to really bring about that type of community. When you bring all those people together after the FOP and have food and drinks, stuff like that — they’re really going to be sharing what they’ve experienced that night. I think that will bring about not just evangelization, but also community.”
What makes your campaign different from the other campaign?
“I think Alex and Josh have a solid campaign. … I think that what we’re focusing on that’s different from them is not so much the broadness of our policies but the quantity as well. We know the limits, and we know where Student Government can extend to. … We’re not going to be focusing on false promises. We’re really going to make our goals a reality because I feel like that will benefit everybody. I think that having four distinct things that we’re focusing on, … those goals are very different from simply mental health and fun on campus.”
What sort of lasting initiatives do you hope to implement at Franciscan?
“If we are given the opportunity to be elected, I think the spirituality on campus. … I feel like Franciscan can do better with that. We’re here for the students; we are a voice for you. So we really want to focus on the spirituality of students next year in order to create that lasting impact and create lasting policies that the following administration can be a part of. I think that our events and stuff that we’re focusing on … I feel like actually bringing in different outside perspectives will be good for students at this school.”