The Quaker Campus reached out to as many of the ASWC Senate candidates as we could. The following are transcripts of conversations held between the QC and the candidates, either in person, or over email, edited for clarity and brevity.
Campus Relations Director:
First-year Fionna Tejada is running for Campus Relations Director against third-year Neely O’Grady. The following interview was conducted over email.
Nathan Tolfa (NT): Why are you running for Campus Relations Director? Why that position in particular?
Fionna Tejada (FT): I am running for Campus Relations Director because I truly believe that, in my first year here, I have made so many connections with students and faculty already and it is just the beginning. I am running for Campus Relations Director specifically because I have been involved in [the] Campus Relations Committee since I joined Senate and have been working closely with the current Campus Relations Director [fourth year Grace Reeder]. From that, I have learned what I can improve for next year and what being a Campus Relations Director truly entails.
NT: If elected, what would be your first course of action? What would you want to either implement or change right away?
FT: If I am elected as Campus Relations Director, my first course of action will be to continue the efforts to bring the Gender-Equity Center on campus and be a part of the team to make sure this is followed through. I believe that consistent school-wide surveys are very important as well. Each senator on the table represents a constituent body but to hold each senator accountable, school-wide surveys would bridge that gap.
NT: What do you think qualifies you for the position of Campus Relations Director?
FT: Currently, I am First-Year Class Council President so I do have a seat on the senate table, yes, but it is not only that, I have made it my priority to truly understand senate and understand the students on campus. I want to be able to explain what senate is and what it does for the student body. I have put on multiple events and still have a few goodies coming for the students! I also work at the Office of Communications and will be the VP for Women's Leadership Association next year.
NT: What do you believe is the role of the media (the Quaker Campus, KPOET, etc.) on campus?
FT: I believe the role of the media on campus is to inform everyone (student body and faculty) of anything from events, to issues that arise on campus, to anything that would affect students and/or faculty. It is so important to have student-run media on a college campus, for both the students that run the media to gain that experience, and for everyone to be informed of anything regarding Whittier that is written from those affected.
NT: Do you think your work on Senate this year has prepared you for the role of Campus Relations Director? If so, how?
FT: Yes, I do believe my work on Senate has prepared me for the role of Campus Relations Director. I have been a part of the Campus Relations Committee on Senate since I have had a seat on the table. My first senate meeting was at the beginning of Spring Semester 2019, and since then I have helped with one event and put on two events with First-Year Class Council. These events include the Bagel and Donut event, Tie-dye and Pizza, and FCC also provided the snacks at the film screening of Dumbo! This week, FCC is also partnering with Women's Leadership Association and the Palmer Society for a Solidarity clothing swap. Each piece of clothing you bring in, your name will be entered in a raffle to win a 100 dollar Visa gift card. There will still one more opportunity for giveaways in the next couple weeks so definitely watch out for that.
NT: Why should students vote for you?
FT: I truly care for the student body and for everyone to understand what goes on in Senate, and [I want the student body to know] that they can come to Senate when they need any kind of help, not only for money to put on an event. Senate is here to provide a bridge between the students and the faculty. I want every student to know that they can come to any Senator on the table and whether that be an issue or a concern, senate will make it a priority to give that student a voice to the faculty.
NT: Is there anything else that you would like the student body to know about you or your campaign?
FT: As I said, I truly care for everyone on this campus and want to make sure that each person's voice is heard and that this is a safe environment for all. If I am elected, this position will be my priority in ensuring that.
While the QC was unable to schedule a full-length interview with O’Grady, we did write about her candidacy in the article published last week on the elections: “Current female Poet Student Athlete Leadership Academy representative and Neely O’Grady is running for Campus Relations director against Fionna Tejada. She would like to create a community on campus by ‘[bridging] the divide between different organizations.’ She is a Lacrosse athlete, as well as a member of the Athenian Society and ASWC Senate. O’Grady plans to like to utilize her experience to accomplish her goals. ‘I’m involved in a bunch of organizations on campus and I feel like I’d be able to represent everyone equally and well,’ she said. ‘I want to create a community because that’s what we emphasize on Senate.’”
The Quaker Campus was unable to secure an interview with first-year Amber Brost. She is running uncontested for the position of ASWC Secretary.
Residential Hall Representative:
The Quaker Campus was unable to secure an interview with first-year Austin Correia. He is running uncontested for the position of ASWC Residential Hall Representative.
Academic Affairs Council Representative:
The Quaker Campus was unable to secure an interview with first-year Kealohilani “Kea” Minami. She is running uncontested for the position of ASWC Academic Affairs Council Representative.
Student Body Representatives:
First-year Kassady “Kat” Garrison is running for the position of ASWC Student Body Representative. The Quaker Campus spoke with her in person.
NT: Why are you running for Senate?
KG: There’s a multitude of reasons, but just to get to the jist of it, I really feel like there needs to be a lot more transparency, definitely on the [Senate] Table . . . I also want to bring more events to school, I want to focus more on mental health issues. I want to focus on engaging more with the community, and making more events that are both commuter friendly, and [resident] friendly. That way people can mix and interact more, because we don’t really interact with people who live here. We just take classes, then at the end of the day, we go home and we don’t care really.
NT: Are you willing to say what you mean by more transparent?
KG: I know that there’s been some confusion between what the table says, and then it gets said in- to the student body itself, and they’re like, “Oh, well we don’t really know what happens at Senate meetings” so I wanna open up that doorway that way there’s a lot- more communication and a lot more, again, transparency on everything that’s done on the table, and if anyone needs clarification, or wants to put their opinion in, I’ll be there for them, for that.
NT: If elected, what would your first course of action be, would you want to change anything?
KG: It wouldn’t be necessarily changing, but more implementing. I really want to focus on the stigma between mental health . . . We don’t really talk about it here, even though we are a liberal arts college . . . We have the mental health and wellness coalition I believe, and I want to work with them.
NT: Do you know how you plan to [increase discussion of mental health on campus]?
KG: We can have workshops, we can have fundraisers, we can bring societies into it. It’s all about communicating with a lot of people on campus including the Dean, and other councils on [campus] . . . And I have a bit more experience behind my belt, because I’ve been promoting for KPOET for pretty much this whole year.
NT: What would you say qualifies you for the position of Student Body Rep? What experience might help you with the job?
KG: I’m actually certified by the IRS to do taxes for people. . . . I did that the senior year of high school and I ended up being the supervisor for my tax site and that included facilitating conversation between the IRS. Sometimes [I] would [work with] other companies like H&R block, or the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, I work closely with them still, and as well as other organizations outside the campus that help with immigration and also getting your [Individual Taxpayer Identification Number] codes as well. . . . I’m also the marketing coordinator for KPOET currently so I do a lot of promotional stuff, I do all the graphic designing for KPOET as well. I’m a mentor for High School students for the [Center for Engagement with Communities (CEC)]. . . . [The CEC deals] with a lot of high schoolers who want to go to College, who are first generation, and we guide them through that.
NT: What do you believe is the role of media on campus, meaning like QCTV, KPOET, The QC.
KG: I think it’s a way like to communicate with everyone in a way that everyone understands. . . . And it’s also a way you relate with others as well, because here at KPOET, none of us know each other when we come in, but then we end up coming together as a family because we all love one thing, which is music . . . As for VPS, they all love film and creating and editing, and that’s what brings them together. . . . . And then for QC, you can write about whatever you want . . . it really engages people.
NT: Why should students vote for you?
KG: . . . I feel like a fresh person coming into Senate would be amazing. I do know some of the people on there, but a lot of them are foreign to me, and I feel that if I can bridge the gap between the student body and the Senate Table even more than it has already been.
Third-year Joshua Elsen is running for the position of ASWC Student Body Representative. The Quaker Campus spoke with him in person.
Nathan Tolfa (NT): Why did you decide to run for Senate?
Joshua Elsen (JE): Well [I’m a] Political Science major . . . [and] being a student and returning to Whittier College I see that there is a lot of potential in the school. There is a lot that the school can do.
NT: By returning do you mean returning after you were here in 2010?
JE: Correct. . . . The school has the potential to be something. A lot of my experiences with the Veteran organization have been not the greatest. The school has helped me out. There are avenues. . . . [But] there is a lot of inconsistency throughout the school. I think that is where I need to come in as a student that has experienced these inconsistencies and fix them. Get it so that we fix the systematic issues throughout the school.
NT: Can you speak to any of the gaps or inconsistencies you’ve fixed?
JE: So in terms of where I am coming from is mainly the former Whittier College Student Veteran Organization. We realized that there was a gap between what is being presented on the school side and what is actually being put in place. Myself have dissolved the WC Student Veteran Organization it is no longer operating. However, I am currently working the office of Dean of Students the Associate Deans getting policies put in place so we can help veterans out. . . . Some of my veterans have children and they don’t have time for childcare. [But] who’s to say this is just veterans? It could be [anyone]. We can basically transplant those policies to another side of the house.
NT: If elected what would your first course of action be? What would you either want to implement or change?
JE: First coming into office I do realize we first and foremost we need to get familiar with the policies themselves. . . . Understanding [those policies] and then applying organizational management to it.
NT: Do you mean Whittier College policies?
JE: [Whittier College] policies and ASWC policies. We need to see where they are matching up and where there is a gap. I think one of the biggest things that we should realize is that as students and as a functioning governing body they actually have a lot of power. More power than some of them may think they do. The Senate can change the administration and vice versa. It can become a partnership [that] promotes a healthy environment. Within senate itself we can definitely reorganize and restructure.
NT: What would you say qualifies you for the position to be a Student Body Representative?
JE: I think that’s my first real position on campus [was on the Student Veteran Organization,] dealing with the student body, dealing with that struggle we have been fighting for a year. We are still fighting it without the organization. Further, my experience within the marine corps have taught me that there are leadership traits [that help] to advocate for students or to find out where there are gaps and where we can fix them. if you don’t know the answer who do you go to to get the answer? Can you lead people to the answer? Especially with a military background you are given a set of rules. It’s ASWC and if the student body votes for it then I will abide by it. Whether I agree with it or not, if that is what my constituent wants, then that’s what I have to represent. And it’s that adherence to structure and authority that I think allows me have that realistic perspective in student government. Especially for the non traditional students that voice isn’t really there on the council. It is never heard in senate. I can come in with my life experiences from outside the college and say that is what life is like after you leave here. I do have a little bit of actual government work of how that side of the house works. So I bring that realist approach and experience to the table.
NT: What do you believe is the role of media on campus and by that I mean QC, KPOET, and QC TV if it starts up again?
JE: I actually think you guys are the watchdogs of the campus. You guys report it like you guys see it. The one thing I think is very interesting with the QC and the media on campus,s is their is a dual perspective. It isn’t one sided all the time. Sometimes I will see a slant to it but it is kind of pushed. It is lacking that other perspective and that is where recently I have seen the QC get the other side the other perspective to counter the narrative, challenge the status quo.
NT: Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
JE: So in the recent paper where it talked about who does the college serve, it’s a real perspective to say that among latino or latina students they don’t really know who to go to. Or there wasn’t really a community to connect to. On the other perspective, you have the OEI or many events that do celebrate the identity. To me, as a reader of the QC, I see there are avenues it is just not as advertised or maybe it is a lack of communication — again one of the traps that Whittier College has.
NT: Why do you think that students should vote for you?
JE: Honestly, what I would tell students is vote whoever you want. Voice your opinion. This is the United States you have the right to free speech to say what you want and believe what you want. I’m coming from the perspective of it doesn’t matter who you are what you believe, [your] race, religion . . . If you have an issue I have an open door policy. Come to me and talk to me about [it].
NT: Is there anything you want the student body to know about you or your campaign?
JE: I just started working on finishing up my campaign materials. I may seem scary I may seem very blunt-
NT: What do you mean by scary?
JE: I honestly don’t know. Some people say, and it’s a common thing throughout the veteran group, we have that command presence. The way we talk; it’s very authoritative. In reality we are all just chill dudes [who are] just there for a good laugh. We will be brutally honest with you. When it comes down to it, stop me at any point. I am willing to talk I am willing to share and get myself out there. I do want to make Whittier a better place. I do think it has that potential and I do want to unlock that potential. I want to get Whittier to the place where I actually enjoy it.
The Quaker Campus was unable to secure an interview with first-year Arianna Modesti, third-year Daniel Hayes, third-year Jeffrey Tam, first-year Myles Malone, or first-year Kanoa Lindiwe. They are all also running for the position ASWC Student Body Representatives.
The Quaker Campus was unable to secure a interview with either candidate for ASWC Commuter Representative second-year Dianna Sarabia or first-year Grace Hagan-Martin