Empower is not a team, they are a movement. That’s the central philosophy guiding the candidates during this UVUSA election.
The candidates, captained by Marin Reynolds, are looking to shake up the status quo with a different kind of student body presidency for the students at Utah Valley University.
“We came to the conclusion that this is ultimately going to be a protest of the original campaign and the traditional campaign ideas,” said Christopher Mevs, campaign manager for Empower.
Empower said they are looking to address a problem within student government and to correct a broken system.
Mevs explained that too often campaigns for student office are run the same way, with the same action taken and disconnect when the officer is elected. Empower is hoping to remedy that.
Empower is unique in that it was created at the insistence of other students who wanted something different than the two existing teams. While the two other parties had been preparing since last November or earlier, Empower came together earlier this year with a legion of frustrated students behind them just making the deadline.
“We are different here. We don’t want to mold into other universities, we don’t want to mold into other types of student bodies,” Reynolds said. “We want to embrace what UVU has to offer here.”
With a three-fold mission focused on creating a vast network of engaged students, embracing the school’s diversity and offering transparency to the student body, Empower has set some lofty goals. Their rallying cry being that UVU can do things better, they may be able to accomplish those goals if elected.
With tuition potentially on the rise and the construction of the new Student Life and Wellness Building and parking structure on campus, this year’s student body elections are more important than ever.
#Avenue’s campaign is focused on the idea of unifying the student body at UVU, which the team admitted would be a bit of a challenge as UVU is still considered a fairly young university.
“We have three platforms we’re going for, that we want to bring to UVU,” said #Avenue team member Natalie Lier. “They are connect, feedback and pride.”
Key focus points for #Avenue in the upcoming year are the Testing Center and fee days, the continual lack of adequate parking and the much needed funding for more space on campus.
“Space is a huge issue,” said #Avenue student body president candidate Zach Dearing. “[Funding] is something we’re working on a lot this year already.”
Even though the student population at UVU is greater than that of the University of Utah and Utah State University, the university does not receive a comparable amount of funding other schools receive, which directly affects the amount of space per student.
Team #Avenue candidates are Zack Dearing for Student Body President, Natalie Lier for Executive Vice President, Aubree Hill for Vice President of Activities and Jessica Barney for Vice President of Academics.
“We really care about the school, we love UVU,” Lier said about the major difference between #Avenue and teams that have run in the past. “We want to be involved and help the students out.”
Team Ignite, with Jono Andrews as their presidential candidate, seeks to encourage diversity and individuality and ignite the student body and faculty though transparency and student advocacy.
Along with Andrews, current UVUSA club ambassador, other Team Ignite members Elizabeth Jarema, Kiahna Campbell, Caleb Tippets and Tyler Brklacich hope to actively engage students of diverse backgrounds with UVUSA and not just have it be friends of friends that apply.
“[Diversity] is something that you can actually see within our team,” Andrews said.
Team Ignite executive vice president candidate Jarema, a mother and Figi-born international student, will be the first international student executive if elected.
“I think it’s important to not just bringing cookie-cutter speakers to campus but speakers that appeal to other groups on campus,” Andrews said.
Other than goals to make student government a more collaborative effort on campus, Andrews hopes to lobby at the Salt Lake Capitol building for additional classrooms to be built on campus.
With $10 million short of a $55 million classroom building planned for construction north of the library, a major issue for the next UVUSA president will be lobbying at the state level for more funding.
“We need it to be able to meet the size [of the student body] of 46,000 that’s projected in 2020,” Andrews said.
Unlike other UVUSA members who are “overloaded with 15 credits,” Andrews, a senior who is “theoretically finished with his degree” seeks to dedicate his final year to student government.
By Alex Sousa, Nathan Turner and Natalie Sullivan