Cambria Pilger| Staff Writer
Whitworth students and staff gathered to watch the ASWU executive candidate debate in Lied Square on Tuesday, April 10. After an introduction from each of the six candidates, the candidates answered general questions, positions-specific questions and questions from audience members.
Each candidate ran for one of three ASWU positions: president, executive vice president, and financial vice president. The candidates for ASWU president were juniors Tersa Almaw and Hunter Smit. The candidates for executive VP were sophomore Andrews Boateng and senior Ethan Clardy, and sophomores Chelsea Shearer and Bakari Green were running for the financial VP position.
Each candidate spoke on the issues they believe need change and the change they want to implement. They all said that they hope to represent students more.
Each candidate also said they have learned how to manage their time well through being involved on campus in academics, clubs, work, and relationships.
Almaw said she wants to create a space in which students can talk, come together and discuss important issues without being separated by differences. The ASWU president should lead others toward positive moral change and invite all students to respect one another and come together, she said.
“Listening allows understanding. Listening allows engagement in the conversation,” Almaw said.
Smit said he hopes to make ASWU more transparent and open and to become friends with people to make himself more accessible as president. In ASWU it is important to ask hard questions, seek the truth, and look at issues in a more binary way without letting personal agenda and personal political beliefs get in the way, he said.
“Leadership in general, when you can inspire people to do the best work possible, is great,” Smit said.
Clardy said it is important to ask questions and learn other perspectives. As EVP, the main role is to reach out to senators and make sure ideas are addressed. He wants to input more clubs, bring ASWU members to more casual events, and take all voices into consideration when voting on topics, he said.
Boateng said he wants to work closely with senators to make sure they represent the residents and to be open and available so people can reach out to him. People want more transparency and inclusion and want their voices to be heard, he said. Whitworth has come a long way, but it is time to begin moving in the right direction, he said.
Beside international students, there are also many other minority groups such as first-generation students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities. Boateng said it is important to listen to all voices and not downplay or lift up one over another. He said he hopes to do so by going to different meetings and fostering communication.
Shearer said she wants to implement clear expectations of what’s going to happen throughout the year with ASWU and the Whitworth community. ASWU is the main thing that ties Whitworth together and presents a strong sense of community, she said.
It is important to work one-on-one with the clubs and leaders as financial VP, she said. If elected, she hopes to bring communication and compassion in the role.
Honest communication is the best policy, Green said. Through his experience, he said he has noticed that some clubs feel left out on campus, and he hopes to pursue a relationship with clubs and their leadership.
Executives should be reaching out to people on campus, regardless of position, Green said. It is important to empower the LGBTQ+ community to have its own voice as well as to learn from and support them from a basis of self-determination rather than his own actions.
Many of the candidates were asked questions regarding the international students on campus, because of recent discussions regarding the addition of an international student representative position in ASWU.
Almaw said the international student representative position is a way to advocate for those students and include them. International students are considered a minority and need to be better represented, she said. For this to become possible, ASWU needs to immerse itself in the community of international students, she said. It’s important for ASWU to be intentional about what it is doing and to include and join those students, she said.
Smit thinks international students and students that don’t fit the typical Whitworth “vibe” are underrepresented, he said. If elected, he plans to have personal conversations with students who do not feel like they fit in and work with them to allow them to feel more connected and accepted across campus to the best of his ability, he said.
The general elections will take place Thursday, April 12 and Friday, April 13. The results will be announced over the weekend.