Senate candidates

Alicia Bachicha

Alicia Bachicha has been on her own since she was 17.

The struggle of supporting herself has helped Bachicha, an Edmonton junior, empathize with the struggles of her fellow students.

“There’s a maturity that comes to you when you have to have responsibility,” she said.

Bachicha said that responsibility and a drive to get things done will help in a senate position.

Bachicha has been involved in SGA for two semesters. She was also involved with a student government organization at another college.

She is a member of SGA’s legislative research committee and academic affairs committee.

“It’s fabulous just to be part of a university organization that models itself after so many good things and to be able to have a voice,” she said.

She said, as a senate member, she would try to talk and listen to the students. One thing she will try to do is keep track of issues that concern students, which includes tuition, a possible January term and plus/minus grading.

Although plus/minus grading would benefit her, she feels the system would harm many students.

Her future involvement with SGA will enable her to voice students concerns and opinions about issues such as plus/minus grading to the administration.

“I’ve tried other organizations; they don’t make the difference that student government does,” she said. “You have the ability to talk to the administration about what the students want by what you do everyday.”

– Mai Hoang

Sarah Cecil

Louisville junior Sarah Cecil said that once she is involved with something, she will stick to it.

It is her commitment to the Student Government Association that has motivated her to run for a senate seat for next year.

“I like to get things done,” she said. “I don’t procrastinate on issues, I like to get things resolved.”

Cecil has been involved in SGA for two semesters. She has been a member of the public relations and campus improvements committees. She has helped put several pieces of legislation to the legislation research committee, which allows it to eventually be read at SGA meetings.

She said the new constitution will improve how SGA runs. In the past, there have been members who have signed up for SGA but then fail to show up for meetings. This practice, she said, annoyed her.

“People need to be responsible and show up to the meetings,” she said. “It’s not a joke.”

The new constitution allows SGA to be taken more seriously.

“People who are signed up to be elected are serious and dedicated to be in the Student Government Association,” she said.

Cecil said she wants other students to determine what she should do as a senate member. She wants to listen to students concerns and ideas for improving Western.

“I like hearing people’s different opinions and ideas,” she said.

-Mai Hoang

Brittany Fausey

Brittany Fausey said she’s excited to see prestige brought to the Student Government Association.

Fausey, a junior from Jeffersonville, Ind., is running for a senate seat with hopes to be appointed as the speaker of the senate.

This is Fausey’s third year as a member of SGA, and she is currently the coordinator of committees. She previously served as co-chair of the public relations committee.

Fausey said there aren’t many students running for senate, but she still wanted to go through the new election process.

“I think it’s really important to represent students, and do it democratically,” she said. “I’m really excited that student government is taking the step to make members be elected.”

Fausey, a corporate and organization communication major, is also a member of the Alpha Omicrom Pi sorority and is a Spirit Master.

“I feel like I’ve been able to know Western one on one from SGA and other organizations I’ve been in,” she said.

One way of promoting SGA is to start working with high schools to build interest early, she said.

Fausey said she will work against plus/minus grading next year because she thinks it will hurt students when they start applying for graduate school.

“I think there’s no standard, and I don’t think there will be a way to regulate it fairly for students,” she said.

Fausey also plans for SGA to work more closely with Facilities Management next year because she supports promoting beautification projects for the campus.

– Lindsey Reed

Christina Kayrouz

The academic affairs committee led Student Government Association in opposing plus/minus grading, Louisville sophomore Christina Kayrouz said. Now Kayrouz is ready to be more than just a participant in the committee.

She wants to lead the group.

Kayrouz wants to become chair of the academic affairs committee next year, if she is elected to the SGA senate.

Kayrouz, a psychology major, has participated in SGA and the academic affairs committee since last fall. Kayrouz said she plans to continue working in opposition to plus/minus next year.

She also wants to develop more interaction between students and faculty by communicating academic issues that should be discussed or changed with both parties.

Kayrouz said she also will work toward making SGA more visible to get students involved.

“They don’t get involved because they don’t know how to be a member,” Kayrouz said.

Kayrouz has been recruitment chair of Western’s Feminist Activism Network since fall 2003.

Other campus issues haven’t been forgotten.

The development of a new parking structure may help Western’s parking problem, but only if the most possible spaces are created for students, she said.

The university has also made significant safety changes since the murder of Pellville freshman Katie Autry in May, Kayrouz said.

But Kayrouz said she would like to see better lighting on campus and a better presence of the university’s escort service.

– Shawntaye Hopkins

John Law

Adairville senior John Law wants to do more in Student Government Association senate than hold a position. He wants to make SGA more student friendly.

“Student governments have been known all over the world as apathetic groups,” Law said. “Some people just see it as getting to put a line on their resume and just show up to take names.”

The computer science major is the president of the Gamers Guild. His responsibilities include running the business portions of meetings as well as events.

He hopes to use these leadership skills, as well as the ability to listen to fellow students to solicit students likes and dislikes, and to represent them well.

Law has said in previous Herald stories that he does not have a problem with running for a senate position.

“I think that’s more in line in what we should be doing,” he said.

Law had said he planned on campaigning by talking to students as opposed to making flyers or posters.

Law has been in SGA for two years and served on the campus improvements committee and the ad hoc organizational aid committee

Law said there are many issues he would like SGA to address, including mandatory meal plans, housing policy and academic policy.

“We really ought to be addressing these issues now as they come up instead of later when they are firmly rooted in place,” Law said in a written questionnaire response.

– Joanie Baker and Ashlee Clark

Abby Lovan

Abby Lovan has spent three years in the Student Government Association trying to inform and promote the organization.

Lovan, a junior from Jeffersonville, Ind., has been involved in SGA since her first semester at Western. She is running for a senate seat in hopes of continuing her work in SGA’s public relations.

“I really think that we have made some improvements in our public relations,” she said. “I would like to expand on that.”

That experience has been accumulated over Lovan’s work in several SGA positions that include involvement as a member, vice chair and chair in SGA’s public relations committee. She has also worked as chair of an ad hoc internal review committee and most recently, vice president for public relations.

During her tenure, SGA has sent several mass mailings and e-mails about events and issues. She’s also set up information tables for students to have more information about student government.

She said she feels that public relations and promotions played a large role in informing students about the plus/minus grading.

Lovan opposes plus/minus grading.

“We got more students involved and made our voice heard,” she said.

Lovan said she believes that student involvement is a key in all that SGA accomplishes.

“I think that we need to make sure that students know that student government is an open forum for student opinion, concerns and questions,” Lovan said. “We are the voice for the students, we are the liaison for the administrators.”

– Mai Hoang

Cheryl Norris

Cheryl Norris is putting her name on the ballot today because she wants more involvement in the Student Government Association.

Norris, a freshman from Hendersonville Tenn., is running to be a senate member. She is a nursing major and this is her second semester in SGA.

Norris is running for senate because she said she thinks it’s important for students to play a role in university decisions.

“I’m just trying to do my part,” she said.

Norris has leadership experience from being a Future Business Leaders of America officer for two years in high school.

“I don’t see too many problems with the SGA,” Norris said. “We need to get more students involved. We’re doing everything we can right now, all the committees are working hard.”

She said the qualities that set her apart from other candidates is that she is driven to do her best and is very dependable.

Norris doesn’t like the idea of a plus/minus grading system.

“I think it could only hurt students,” she said.

She says Western has done an awesome job with safety on campus.

“They are always checking IDs in my dorm,” she said.

Norris said even though there is a parking problem on campus, nothing can be done to totally eliminate the problem. She said a new parking structure would help, but the current structure should be divided differently.

“Residents need another floor in the parking structure instead of commuters having them,” she said.

– Emily Gries

Melissa Paris

As a double major in political science and English, and a Barnes-Campbell Hall council member, sophomore Melissa Paris said she understands the politics of how the Student Government Association works, and knows what it will take to do a good job.

Paris is currently sitting on SGA’s legislative research committee and is running for senate. Her biggest issue is raising student awareness and involvement.

“We should try more than just putting up fliers to get the word out about what is going on,” Paris said. “Some of the candidates are suggesting going out and talking more personally with the student body, and I think that would help.”

Because the plus/minus grading system is important to students, Paris said it is very important to her. She said she backs the students position against the pilot program.

“Even though the plus/minus system is just going on our transcript and won’t effect our GPA right now, I think they’re slowly trying to implement calculating it into our GPA, like in two years,” Paris said.

Campus safety, Paris said, has gotten much better since the death of Pellville freshman Katie Autry incident. Though students are getting annoyed by having to show their IDs and having to lock their doors at all times, she said the Campus Safety Task Force has done the best they can, she said.

“Out of the other colleges I’ve visited, we have the most strict rules as far as checking in and out of dorms,” Paris said. “A campus can only be so safe, the rest is up to student initiative to maintain safe surroundings.”

– Joanie Baker

Katharine Pettit

Katharine Pettit said she believes her freshman standing would make her a good senate candidate to voice the concerns of fellow newcomers to the Hill.

Pettit, from Elkton, said she is determined, and thinks next year’s Student Government Association will be more effective as people become more competitive, and not just come to meetings to fill time.

“I don’t think we get as much done as we would like to because not everyone is serious about it,” Pettit said. “I think that’s because of the somewhat revolving door with the congress which should be fixed now because of the new constitution that will make (the legislature) smaller.”

Yet Pettit said SGA was very successful in getting its opinions heard about the budget and plus/minus grading. She said she opposes plus/minus because she doesn’t see any redeeming qualities about it.

“I don’t think it would hurt people in GPA as much as it would in morale,” Pettit said. “People down the road will see minuses on their transcripts and think the students didn’t put their best into it, even though they did.

Though Pettit believes that the Hill makes it difficult for much to be done about the parking crisis on campus, she said the new parking structure would be a big help.

As a member of the legislative review committee this semester, Pettit helped go over proposed legislation and make sure they didn’t go against the constitution.

– Joanie Baker

Morgan Phelps

Morgantown sophomore Morgan Phelps is running for the a senate seat in the Student Government Association in hopes of providing a voice for an often overlooked group.

Phelps, 30, is a non-traditional student. He said he hopes his involvement in SGA, which began this semester, will help expose students to the struggles of being a non-traditional student.

If he is elected, he would like to bring up ideas that will help out non-traditional students. That includes more flexible attendance policies and activities designed for those students.

“I know that SGA does not set policy for the university, but SGA has a voice for setting policy,” he said. “That is where I could make a difference for non-traditional students.”

Phelps said he feels that his life experience will be an asset to SGA.

Although he has a heart for non-traditional students, he said he will be available for all students.

“I want to make a positive contribution to all students,” he said. “And specifically, I want to be able to give a voice to anybody who feels that they’re underrepresented and help people deal with problems.”

Phelps has a stance on several issues. He is against the plus/minus grading system. He said employers will not care about the plus or minus of a given grade.

He said the system would also add unneeded pressure, especially to non-traditional students.

“Sometimes we put a little more pressure to be better than our younger counterparts,” he said. “That just makes it worse.”

– Mai Hoang

Mason Stevenson

Princeton junior Mason Stevenson has a vision of Western students getting more active in their student government.

Stevenson is running for a senate seat in the Student Government Association election. He is currently serving his second semester in SGA as parliamentarian.

Curiosity was one of the reasons Stevenson decided to take that position.

“It turned out to be a good thing, and I learned a lot about parliamentary procedures,” he said.

As parliamentarian, Stevenson can’t vote.

He said he wants to be able to make more of the decisions next year.

Stevenson, a broadcasting and political science double major, has previously served as treasurer of the Southwest Hall Council last semester.

He is currently a resident assistant at Bemis Lawrence Hall.

“I look forward to helping with a smooth transition from the old constitution to the new constitution,” he said. “We have to adjust to it now.”

One of his biggest goals is to make SGA more visible and to keep students aware of current issues.

Stevenson said plus/minus grading has more cons than pros for students. He said he isn’t convinced that it will increase student effort.

“I’m afraid that if this goes through, students will shift their focus more on getting a grade than learning,” he said.

He’s also afraid that the grading system would cause students to participate less in campus organizations.

Stevenson previously attended Paducah Community College, where he helped start the College Republicans. He said his background could help him in SGA.

“I think because I’ve not been at Western for a long time, I’ve seen how other schools work,” he said.

– Lindsey Reed

Robert Watkins

Robert Watkins is familiar with the new speaker of the senate position in the constitution that was passed last week.

He wrote it.

Watkins, a Bowling Green sophomore, said he is hopeful he’ll be chosen as the speaker of the senate if he is elected to a senate position this week.

“Having written a new constitution, I feel someone who is legislatively oriented needs to get the speaker of the senate position,” he said.

Watkins, a political science major, said his experience in writing and arguing legislation sets him apart from other candidates who might be interested in becoming speaker.

Watkins has been chair of the legislative research committee since spring 2003. He has previously served as secretary of that committee.

Watkins also wants to increase SGA participation next year. SGA members should talk to more student organizations and be more visible during MASTER Plan to increase its membership, he said.

“A lot of times people just don’t know there’s something out there they might enjoy,” Watkins said.

Student lobbying also needs to be increased, he said.

Watkins will continue to oppose plus/minus grading next year. Creating a consensus between faculty, administrators and students is the best solution, he said.

“I really feel it advocates getting the grades over really learning anything,” Watkins said.

Western administrators have done almost all they can do to improve campus safety, he said.

But more education about getting out of potentially dangerous situations should be offered to freshmen, he said.

– Shawntaye Hopkins