UVUSA Elections: Meet the Candidates

(photo by Matthew Drachman)

With the opening candidate press conference on Feb. 1, the campaign to choose UVUSA’s next body of leaders officially began.

Students were introduced to the candidates running for Student Body President, Vice President of Academics, Vice President of Engagement, and Vice President of Activities. During the conference, the candidates shared their vision for what UVU could look like for students. Since then, the campaigns have kicked off on social media, and on Feb. 12 candidates were able to hang their campaign material throughout campus.

“Putting yourselves [as candidates] out there is so scary and very vulnerable,” said Karen Magaña-Aguado, current student body president. “But the fact that you were willing and you cared enough about the university and you cared enough about serving students that you bit the bullet and went for it, just says a lot.”

Election week is set to begin on Feb. 22, when candidates will be tabled around the hall of flags and share their messages with students. This is also where students can find an option to vote for the candidates in person. There will also be QR codes posted all around campus that will link students directly to the ballot. These QR codes will also be sent via student emails and through canvas.

Students who vote will be entered into a giveaway where they will have a chance to win various prizes which include: an air fryer, weighted blanket, Airpod Pros, an Ipad Air 64g with an attachable keyboard, or a $250 gift card to the Campus Bookstore.

With all that in mind, let’s meet the candidates.

Student Body President Candidates

Drew Cannon

Majoring in theater arts education and minoring in music, Drew Cannon is a senior here at UVU and is seeking outside change to UVUSA. As an advocate, Cannon is currently the president of the Queer Student Alliance at UVU and works alongside LGBT Student Services on campus.

“Every student deserves to feel safe and supported on campus,” Cannon’s bio reads. “Unfortunately that is not the case for many of our students here at UVU.”

If elected, Cannon has Equity and Inclusion at their forefront saying, “I plan on achieving this goal by continuing my work with marginalized groups on campus and communicating the needs and wants of students to the administration.” Cannon also seeks accountability among faculty and promises to empower students with a better system to keep teachers accountable.

Ethan Morse

Currently serving as the Vice President of Academics, Ethan Morse seeks to continue his work with UVUSA by being a voice to the students. “We’re the biggest school in Utah and I want to make sure that we’re also the best,” said Morse.

If elected, Morse seeks to save one-credit courses on campus. In previous reports by the Review, UVU is starting to phase out one-credit physical education science courses, and by Fall 2022 they will no longer be offered to students.

“These classes matter to UVU students, which is why I am working to reverse this decision,” says Morse. “If the decision to cancel them stands, I promise to work as student body president to find a way to bring them back.”

Morse also wants students to be more involved in campus decision-making, and promises increased safety on campus.

Ivette Pimentel

A junior currently majoring in public relations and strategic communications, Ivette Pimentel is seeking to give everyone a voice in her campaign for student body president. As a first-generation student, she seeks to have inclusivity for all students.

“I am incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that UVU has provided me as a student,” said Pimentel. “I am running for student body president because I love UVU and I want to help students feel welcome here.”

If elected, Pimmel seeks to make sure underrepresented students are heard in decision-making. “Being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I understand the importance of having an accepting place here on campus.”

Pimentel also is seeking to bring more accountability and honesty to student government through giving weekly updates on council doings.

James Cisneros

Centering his campaign on being an outsider James Cisneros, a sophomore majoring in biotechnology, is seeking to bring reforms to the system through spreading resource information and strengthening student’s voices.

“The most meaningful part of being involved in UVU student government is giving students a voice among the faculty and making sure that [their] voices get heard,” Cisneros’s bio read.

Cisneros plans to make campus resource information more readily available for students, along with creating new ways for students to get involved in UVUSA. Cisneros plans to do this by making student government more open for students to voice concerns as well as to operate within.

“I know many students who feel drowned out and let down,” said Cisneros. “I don’t think that should be the case. Not all policies can be applied and not all decisions go the way everyone wants, but to be heard should be something any UVU student can have.”

Kate Hickman

Studying at UVU for nearly a decade, Kate Hickman, a junior in bioinformatics with a minor in biology and computer science. Hickman has come to find a home at UVU and wants to give to the community that Hickman says, “I wouldn’t be here without [them].”

Hickman’s campaign has centered around what they call data-driven solutions. “I want to cultivate an environment where experts are consulted and their expertise heeded,” stated Hickman. Sustainability for students has also come up as a part of their campaign promises. In other words, trying to help better student lives by providing services and other resources for students to promote sustainability on campus.

“Students have an intimate understanding of how they live their lives and, therefore, have targeted ideas about how they can live more sustainably and encourage environmental responsibility,” said Hickman. “As student body president, I plan to use those ideas as a springboard for student engagement with UVU’s environmental stewardship goals.” One such proposal was a bike-share program which has become a  talking point for Hickman’s campaign.

Lexi Soto

Currently serving as the Woodbury School of Business Senator in UVUSA, Lexi Soto is wishing to continue her service to UVU as student body president. For a while, Soto didn’t know whether she would be able to go to college. This changed when an anonymous donor offered to pay for her first semester.

“I had someone ‘hold the door open’ for me, and now I want to ‘hold doors open for u,’” reads Soto’s campaign. Soto wishes to be a voice to raise awareness about UVU’s more niche clubs and organizations, as well as to help students get involved in more of the student opportunities that exist across campus.

Furthermore, by “keeping the door open” as Soto puts it, she wants to further encourage students to attend student council meetings, forums, and activities that are open to the public. She has also expressed support for maintaining in-person classes for students.

Melanie Wolfe

Working towards a Master of Social Work, Melanie Wolfe strives in her education as a first-generation student. As a DACA recipient, Wolfe comes from an immigrant household and the educational journey she has undergone has been a point of her independence.

If elected into office, Wolfe plans to integrate more private scholarships in student leadership positions. Doing so, Wolfe says will include more students who do not qualify for government financial aid, particularly “undocumented immigrants.” Inclusivity is a forefront of her campaign, as well as she wishes to raise awareness for interfaith work on campus, along with furthering the partnership with Utah Valley Refugees.

Furthermore, Wolfe also plans to establish a collaborative council that will promote and spread awareness of different services on campus.

Vice President of Academics Candidates

Hayden Harward

Currently serving as the Vice President of Student Activities, Hayden Harward is seeking to continue her work in UVUSA. “UVU is one of my favorite places in the world and I love being a student here, I am a proud Wolverine through and through,” Harward’s bio reads.

Harward’s agenda includes raising awareness about the various different courses and programs that are available to students on campus. “There are many students who are undeclared in their major or are unhappy in their major but don’t know what else to do.” Harward wants students to know their options and will do this by hosting events. Other priorities of her campaign include making sure professors don’t assign homework over student breaks and echoing the sentiment of giving students a voice in student government.

Jaden Muir

Majoring in family science and minoring in event planning, junior Jaiden Muir is seeking to extend his service to UVU by running for VP of Academics. “I have found purpose, community, and a sense of belonging, and the goal if elected is to help other students create the same feeling,” Muir’s bio reads.

Serving as an UVU Ambassador, Muir is seeking to have students to be the focus of his campaign. Giving a sobering promise which has stood him out among candidates, the promise of service.

“I can’t promise what next year will look like even though I really wish I could,” stated Muir. “However, wherever you are today, tomorrow, or the fall semester, my goal is to make sure UVU feels like home.”

Madi Pickett

A sophomore in Digital Cinema, Madi Pickett is a transfer student in her first semester here at UVU and is seeking to change UVU for the better. “I am passionate about serving and supporting others and I want to help you reach your goals and find success in 2022-2023,” said Pickett.

If elected, Pickett seeks to increase student outreach and well-being for students, along with helping students to take advantage of resources on campus.

Pickett also wants to keep professors accountable for their syllabuses. “I want to help the students, and professors, understand and uphold their responsibilities,” Pickett’s bio read. Through her voice, she seeks to keep both students and teachers accountable for the deals they agree to while on campus.

Vice President of Engagement Candidates

Keaton Bennett

Currently serving in UVUSA as the Assistant to the VP of Engagement, Keaton Bennett is seeking a promotion in his efforts to serve UVU. Bennett is a non-traditional and first-generation junior here at UVU, who is currently studying art and design. 

“I owe it to our students to step outside my comfort zone and help the best way I know how,” Bennett said in a statement to the UVUSA. “I’m very confident in my skills, personality and wisdom to serve in this position.”

If elected, Bennett is seeking to raise awareness about several underrepresented groups on campus, along with building community among students at UVU. Bennett’s campaign has echoed a shared sentiment among all candidates of wanting to provide a better student voice in the UVUSA.

Priscilla Villasenor-Navarro

Attending UVU as a first-generation Mexican-Dominican American, and a first-generation student, Villasenor-Navarro is seeking to be bold in her action if elected to the VP of engagement. “To me, being bold means getting out of our comfort zones, not being afraid of failure, and taking initiative,” read Villasenor-Navarro’s bio.

With inclusion as a keystone in her campaign, Villasenor-Navarro has promised to help structure several positions in UVUSA such as the Chief Inclusion Officer, and thus the inclusion ambassadors as well that rest underneath the Chief Inclusion Officer. Through PR, she plans to provide students with opportunities through UVUSA to have their voices heard.

Vice President of Student Activities Candidates

Jeff Elggren

Jeff Elggren, a junior majoring in Digital Marketing, is currently serving as the public relations chair for UVUSA. Elggren is seeking to expand his service at UVU in an elected position.

“[My position] allowed me to participate in all the [skills] where I managed the social media accounts, managed a team of creatives, and publicized event service around campus,” Elggren’s bio reads. “You’ll also find me at campus connection, where I’ve been working for just over a year now. I love to serve the students, and I’m grateful for all my time here at UVU.”

If elected, Elggren plans to expand large-scale activities as the campus transitions out of COVOD-19 restrictions, and establish partnerships with internal and external organizations to provide these events.

Bryson Finley

Last but not least, currently serving as the UVUSA VP of Engagement, is Bryson Finley. As a junior majoring in photography, Finley is seeking to expand their service record with UVU. 

“Through this, I found UVUSA and knew that it was something I wanted to be a part of,” Finley’s bio reads. “My number one goal is to do the same for others by helping as many students as possible get the most out of their time here at UVU.”

If elected, Finley plans to create events that are more suitable to the demographics of UVU. “UVUSA already has space to plan events around traditional and nontraditional students, and with 40% of students being married or in long term partnerships, 17% with at least one child, and 50% who work over 20 hours a week there’s a lot to cover,” said Finley.

Echoing the overall theme of all candidates, Finley wants to give students a better voice in their government.

HOW TO VOTE

The Review calls upon all UVU students to research and vote in the upcoming student body elections. Students can visit in-person voting booths that will be set up throughout the hall of flags through the days of Feb. 22-25, or vote through a link sent out in an email and through canvas. A virtual ballot can be found here.

Scan the QR Code placed in this piece and you will be guided to the virtual ballot. Students can start voting on Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 8 a.m., and voting will be closed Friday, Feb. 25 at 5 p.m. 

“Make sure you take time to get informed about the candidates and vote,” said Jamey Williams, assistant coordinator for student elections. “Every student deserves to have their voice heard and voting at the university level is how that can be done!”

Take the time and consider your candidates, civic participation and outcomes of elections have an impact on everyone here at UVU. The Review strongly encourages all students to turn out to vote and to have their voices heard in the result. The Review’s press eagerly awaits the election’s outcome.

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