Presidential Candidate: Niko Aberle

Major: Peace Studies and Spanish Year: Junior

What is your class load like for next year and what will your other responsibilities be?

My class load is minimal. I’m coming in with a ton of credits. I actually only have to take 12 credits each semester. So, I will be absolutely free to focus on the presidency and provided I get the opportunity to serve as president, I’ve pretty much cleared my responsibilities for next year in anticipation for that.

Why are you running for this ASWU position?

The reason that I’m running is because I love Whitworth and that I really care about where it’s going and I’ve served in a lot of different capacities in leadership. In clubs, and in student life and I’m really excited about the potential leadership possibilities and helping Whitworth progress in certain ways. So that’s No.1.

But second, I also have a criticism of ASWU, which has kind of spurred my interest in running for president. I wouldn't run for president unless I had a really good reason to and this is my really good reason. There’s been a trend the last two years in the way that programming has happened with ASWU which is concerning to me and I don’t think reflects ASWU’s mission. Those two programs are UNITE and the Million Meals program.

The first thing I want to say about those is that they’re good programs--they’re good things. They’re altruistic and I just want to make that clear that it’s not anything about the program itself. It’s just the process in which they’ve been programmed on campus. In the case of Million Meals, for example, that was started with Generation Alive which is an external NGO (Non-Governmental Organization). Then it was presented to ASWU. and from there ASWU programmed it downward, so from top down and told students, ‘this is our key issue this year. This is going to be a key issue and this is going to be something we’re going to focus on and spend a lot of time on.’ I think it’s problematic to have a top down programming orientation, especially when the organization--ASWU--is supposed to be representing student voices and student initiatives. I want to refocus ASWU on student initiative and on student clubs--stuff that’s already taking place and working from the ground up instead of working from top down.

What do you think is the greatest need of the student body? How do you propose to meet that need?

The greatest need of the student body, I think, is a space for students to share their opinions and share their own opinions. A space for students to disagree well. It’s not secret that at Whitworth we have a student population that is different in a lot of ways in terms of theological ideas, in terms of religions in some ways, and also in terms of politics. I think definitely, Whitworth reflects a wide political spectrum. And so I think that it’s important for students to reconcile the difficult issues that Whitworth in general is dealing with.

And I think it’s a big need on campus and a way to address that I have proposed in my position statement, which is publicly available. I’ve said in my visions statement that I would propose to create an ASWU forum. A three-part discussion series. So it would start with an open meeting at the beginning of the year, just with me and hopefully collaborating with some people within ASWU to invite students to come in, sit down at a meeting and sift through what are the most important things for students and have any student would be able to come and set three different discussion (nights). A night for each of these things would be spread out throughout the year. The format of that would be, for each issue, it would just one 45 minute discussion session and it would be formatted similarly to President Taylor’s Colloquy on Theological Identities. That would be three student volunteers giving 10 minutes speeches that represent distinct parts of different student opinion on campus. And then there would be a 15 min ‘Q&A’ session afterward.

What does the position of president do?

The president has an important role to do, just in the routine of ASWU. That’s leading meetings, that’s listening to students, that’s getting emails, that’s going to committee meetings. That’s the first part, it’s that’s routine ASWU. So that’s important. And also on top of that, it’s leading the university in a type of moral direction. And that also has to be held in tension with the democratic nature of ASWU as well.

What are your weaknesses in terms of the position you're running for?

One of my perceived weaknesses is that I’ve never served on ASWU. For fear of being too political, I also see it as a strength. Because I’ve interacted with ASWU in a lot of different capacities as a student leader, as a club leader and I’ve interacted just as a student personally. And from these different perspectives, that I’ve held throughout the years in interacting with ASWU and going to meetings, in caring and being active in ASWU even though I was never a part, I’ve been able to see where ASWU is going and develop the criticism that I’ve developed and also a practical response to it. I would acknowledge that weakness but also note its strengths as well.

Why should we vote for you rather than your opponent?

I think that I provided a vision and I have thought through deeply about some of the issues with ASWU. In that process, I’ve shared some of my ideas, one of which is the forum and the other which I didn’t get to sharing is inviting different club leaders and student leaders to come and seeing where they can overlap and work together on programs. But I have a vision and a way to implement that vision next year. And I think I’m unique in that respect, is that I have step by step ways to make ASWU do its job better.

Is there anything else we need to know about you to make this decision?

You should know that I am confident and believe that my skills that I’ve developed as a leader in general, as an RA, as a CDA, as a leader in clubs--particularly in terms of just leading groups of people and organizational management, that sort of thing and also in terms of communication skills, I would say that those three things are going to translate really well to the presidency. And I’ve taken it upon myself to develop those things over the last few years. Those will really serve the student population well if given the opportunity to be in that position.