With the campaign season ticking away, Team Rise is sharpening their focus and making goals a reality.
They see no reason to wait until after the election to get their hands dirty. Already actively leading nearly every major student-run organization on campus, Rise was born in action.
If students are looking for a team with experience, they need not look much further than Rise. Tyler Brklacich, Rise’s presidential candidate, is a natural leader. Having served the student body for years, he knows what works and what doesn’t. But it’s not just Brklacich, every member of the team has an impressive resume providing Rise with the high ground.
“We aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel here,” Brklacich said, “too many times these elections turn into a popularity contest and people who have no idea what they’re doing get elected. Time and money are wasted when that happens. We already know what needs to be done and how to do it.”
Rise is a team who has spent years preparing to take on the roles of student leadership. Their team is a seamless collaboration of five people that one would think were groomed for years to work together. The five together have a background in student government, athletics, leadership and club organization.
If described in one word, Rise is “powerful.” Caleb Tippetts, candidate for executive VP, with Brklacich, currently serve on UVUSA’s executive council, providing them with invaluable insight to the complexities of being the student voice.
“It took us a while to realize that we can call people out,” Tippetts said. “It took us almost a year to realize that we can do that, that we have a voice. We’ve grown in thick skin. We’ve learned to ask questions and push back. We have the right to know where our money is going and to have a say in that. That’s why it’s so important for us to get elected; there won’t be wasted time.”
One of their main focuses is to keep track of where the student fees are going, to be sure they are being spent on students and not departments.
Brklacich sat on the committees deciding the particulars of the new Student Life and Wellness Center and the parking structure, advocating for better pricing for students and alumni.
“It’s a complex system that needs experience to navigate,” Brklacich said. “That’s what worries me when people who don’t have experience take leadership, because at an executive level you need to know what you’re doing.”
Team Rise is running on a platform of five goals: Collaboration, inclusivity, inform, pride and opportunity.
If you look at the goals of any team running for UVUSA office you would struggle to find a team not claiming dedication to collaboration. What makes Rise different from the rest is the new focus on collaborating with administration on a new, more even playing field.
“What we’ve done successfully this year is collaborate with organizations,” Brklacich said. “We really want to extend that and really collaborate with the administration as well. We want to align our goals with the goals of the administration to be sure we’re working really well together. “
Team Rise explained that it’s easy for the administration to slide over what students want when there isn’t a strong, bold student representative calling into question their decisions and asking the tough questions.
“Administration has the final say because they have the most power,” Brklacich said. “They are the ones making the big decisions, so we need to have strong relationships with them, so that we can be right there, representing the students when those decisions are being made.”
It’s hard to argue that Team Rise isn’t ready to take a place with the administration when as a team they have years of building relationships with top administrators.
Team Rise decided to take the current leadership’s vision for diversifying the university a step forward to initiate inclusivity. Team Rise says that the diversity on campus is strong and now it’s time to come together to make UVU a place where everyone feels like they belong and are integral to the community.
“I think we’re going to get hit hard, speaking honestly, when it comes to diversity,” Brklacich said. “I know the other team is talking a lot about diversity. I don’t want the students to get tricked into thinking that we don’t care about diversity. Just because ethnic diversity isn’t obviously seen on our team doesn’t mean we aren’t focused on those needs.”
The focus of inclusivity for Team Rise is dialogue and support, making sure that UVUSA knows when the Multicultural and International Centers are planning activities. In the past UVUSA has a history of scheduling over these events, taking away from their success. Tippetts explained that making sure there is no scheduling conflict is just the beginning.
“It isn’t just about not scheduling over other events,” Tippetts said. “It’s about giving them support. If we know that the Multicultural Center has something planned we want to help them by doing what we can, by throwing our weight behind their activities.”
For Team Rise, it’s not about competing with other student organizations; it’s about realizing that UVU is a stronger community when everyone is equally included.
In addition to keeping the student body informed through supporting each facet of student involvement, Team Rise aims to keep the administration equally informed through student feedback.
Mallory Wallin, candidate for VP of Academics, plans to take the torch Brklacich lit this past year and expanding the vision of using the position to collect valuable feedback. With the VP of Academics previously focusing on scheduling speakers, Wallin and Brklacich see the position as a means for the students to take an active role in developing their departments through communication with faculty and administration.
Team Rise also has plans to attack the “pride issue” at UVU. Rilee Archibald, candidate for VP of Student Life, came to UVU as a scholarship track and field athlete. She knows what it feels like to have an excited crowd and having no one show up to meets.
“We want to foster a game-day feel to campus,” Tippetts said. “We want to get people excited to be at UVU and Rilee is the right person to help make that happen.”
Team Rise wants to see a sense of UVU pride from the students and the community. They have already begun talks with the city council to get “UVU back on the streets” discussing repainting the UVU symbols at intersections and getting UVU flags flying on the lamp posts around Orem. For Team Rise, pride is a community issue. If the community is behind it and the students are behind it, UVU will come out of the shadow of BYU.
“We don’t want to see BYU shirts on campus anymore,” Brklacich said. “It’s time for UVU students to take pride in their own school. We are not the second choice school some paint us to be. We’re academically competitive and we’re rising in the ranks athletically. It’s time to be proud.”
Team Rise also wants to provide students with the opportunity of involvement by reaching out. Because over 5,000 students are associated with clubs on campus, Rise sees clubs as a way of extending opportunity to students.
“It’s a way to get involved, prepare for the future and test the waters of what you want to do,” Savannah Buswell, candidate for VP of clubs, said, “whether it’s a club that will help you prepare for dental school or taking the GRE.”
Team Rise will take on Team Limitless in a debate on February 25 at noon on Center Stage.
Nicole Shepard is an Integrated Studies major at UVU. She is emphasizing in Writing Studies, Journalism and Peace and Justice Studies, and will graduate spring 2014. Nicole is hoping to work in cause journalism and advocate for restorative justice practices. She has lived in Europe three times she is also considering graduate school in the UK. Nicole is the news editor for the UVU Review.