After two Student Government Association (SGA) election seasons saw three executive slates run against each other, just one slate signed up to campaign for the 2021-22 school year.
The Strive slate is made up of presidential candidate Tina Nguyen, vice presidential candidate Chiarra Biddle, chief administrator candidate Nita Burton and treasurer candidate Jacob Bartolotta.
Rather than run on platform points, members of the Strive slate wanted to campaign on four focuses: engage, encourage, educate and strive.
“With focuses, we want to welcome as many opinions as possible because our motto is ‘by the students, for the students,’” Nguyen said.
Biddle said she thought previous slates having specific platform points was limiting what they could accomplish.
“As a slate, if you’re constantly trying to check off the boxes of your platform points, you’re not really thinking about what’s going on in the [student] senate or other ways that you can help the student body,” she said. “That’s a very rigid model, and we wanted to stray away from that.”
The “engage” focus aims to promote transparency with the student body by hosting monthly town halls for the Strive slate to receive feedback and ideas. Nguyen said she also wants to open the gallery for students to observe SGA senate meetings and pass legislation that would allow gallery members to ask senators questions. Slate members said the first few town halls they host will likely be virtual if they are elected.
“Something our slate really wants to focus on is letting SGA out to the public, letting everyone know we want feedback from students,” Bartolotta said. “Let’s make it more accessible so more students can tell us what they want … and that’s where we can express some major concerns to higher offices.”
Nguyen said another goal within the “engage” focus is for Housing and Residence Life to communicate with on-campus students directly rather than through resident assistants (RA) or hall directors. Nguyen is an RA in Kinghorn Hall and said her own experiences talking with residents helped her come up with this goal.
“Right now, all my residents’ concerns come to me or our hall director, and then we try to communicate that to the higher-ups,” she said. “As a slate, we want to help find better ways to communicate with housing administrators.”
Reducing Ball State’s carbon footprint and making SGA a model organization of environmentally-friendly behavior is the primary goal of “encourage.”
“I think it’s very doable,” Biddle said. “We’ve been operating virtually and paperless for almost a year now. We could still do tabling and handouts but make the handouts virtual or use a QR code.”
Biddle also said she wants to brainstorm strategies for dining halls to use less plastic products, including to-go containers and plasticware. This is similar to previous slates’ platform points — the current Bold slate wants to reduce plastic bag use in dining halls, and Elevate wanted to promote the availability of green to-go containers.
The “educate” focus aims to create a more inclusive environment on Ball State’s campus by expanding SafeZone and implicit bias trainings — similar to the current Bold slate’s platform points.
“What I would love to see — it might be a pipedream — but if we could make implicit bias training a required thing before you come to campus, that would be incredible,” Biddle said. “I would love to see that, or even just make training an accessible link like on Canvas for students to get to it if they want to.”
Bartolotta said he hopes to host an implicit bias training during a senate meeting if Strive is elected and later make the training available to other students and faculty.
Also under the “educate” focus, Nguyen said she hopes to host a “diversity deep dive” for new students to get to know and connect with minority student organizations, potentially through an interactive fair after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Inspired by Bold’s platform point to implement free menstrual products in the Student Center, Nguyen said, Strive members want to expand the number of buildings that will offer products to further this goal.
“We want to help Bold achieve that when they’re not in office anymore because our goal is just to improve SGA and the student body as a whole,” Nguyen said.
Bartolotta said he and his fellow slate members were thinking about the goals they wanted to accomplish if elected to office, and the words they chose to summarize each focus were “basically a campaign slogan.”
Though Strive is the only SGA slate running for office for the 2021-22 school year, students who choose to vote will have the option to vote for Strive or vote no confidence if they feel Strive isn’t fit to hold executive positions.
“I’ve heard some students say their vote won’t matter, but your voice matters,” Nguyen said. “We want students to believe in us, and that’s why we’re campaigning.”
Nguyen said slate members will work together to achieve each focus and their goals within them if Strive is elected.
“We want to work as a team to complete these focuses to show the student body that this is how it should be,” she said. “That’s why we formed in the first place — to work together to strive for a better university.”