Presidential candidate: Justin Botejue

Major: Political Science, pre-law track Year: Junior

 

Why are you running for this ASWU position?

Over my past three years at Whitworth, I’ve just had the most amazing experiences, whether that means studying abroad in Europe for three weeks with the Core 250 program to studying public policy in the department of justice in Washington D.C., to being a research assistant to going on cool trips with cool programs, the whole academic part of Whitworth. I cannot believe that I’m here right now and that I’m doing all these wonderful things. Serving as Stewville senator last year, I got a taste of what it’s like to serve the student community, and knowing what I’ve done for Stewville and knowing the experiences I’ve had for myself, I want to make sure that all students both off-campus and on-campus have that same opportunity next year as well.

 

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

I only have two classes left before my graduation next year: one is a one-credit senior seminar class; the other is my fitness and wellness requirement, so I have literally all the time in the world that I could want to devote to being student body president. The requirement is that you need to at least be at a full time student with 12 credits, so I’m planning to take a few lighter theology classes, an art class perhaps. Really any fun classes I want to take for personal fulfillment and for me to be a more well-rounded person as well. I was set to graduate at the end of this semester, but I want to have that full four-year experience and why not have that fourth year be in total service to the university. My overall career goal is public service in the legal field with justice and public service. This is a glimpse into what I want to do for the rest of my life.

 

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

There are many aspects of needs for Whitworth students, but most of all, the need is for increasing the quality of student life across the board for both on-campus students and off-campus students. This looks at a different perspective for all students especially. There’s need for mental health awareness and there’s need for sexual assault prevention. There’s need for tools for making us better students, because we are students first. I think sometimes ASWU loses sight of the fact that we are students first. Economic stability, especially. We have tuition increases every single year. Not many students expect that they’re going to have a $1,000-$2,000 increase every single year they’re here, so making sure we’re working with administration to know that we should use perhaps some of our endowment to cover that cost of tuition increases, subsidized with student grants and whatnot. It’s very multi dimensional. Essentially, quality of student life is several different things: mental health, academic health, and spiritual health especially. The theology department is currently doing the overflow program, having theology professors and students dialog with the rest of campus. I think that’s an interesting way of approaching theology at a Christian university.

 

How would you assess your performance in other positions of leadership that you’ve had?

By far my most qualifying experience has been as Stewville senator last year. There were several challenges with being senator, and I grew with every challenge presented. Perhaps the very first challenge that I had as Stewville senator was of course the Stewart Lawn Dance. You know, it was a great event: we almost tripled the number of people who were in attendance and everyone had a great time. But at the end of the day, there were cases of sexual assault, there were cases of marijuana use and there were cases of non-university and underage students being present as well. I don’t understand why, for the life of me, that this has been a continuing tradition that no one has looked at up until when I became senator last year. I gave a very challenging presentation to ASWU and Student Life, and talked to RDs and RAs as to, “how do we solve the issue of sexual assault and sexual provocation on campus?” I think that is definitely something ASWU will work toward next year.

Also, I got to serve a community of 127 students last year, and by the end of my tenure I knew every student’s name and attempted to have a one-on-one conversation with them at least once before I left my position there. We also had challenges with renovations to the Stewville community. They threw out all the TVs in the Village and we had no idea why and we had no idea what was next. Basically what I did was I did a lot of research and I requisitioned for full funding from ASWU for three brand-new LED TVs for the Village. I advocated strongly that increasing the quality of student life was something I wanted to make sure Stewville had last year. I worked with Facilities and had shower hooks installed in all the bathrooms so students didn’t have to have a wet towel when they got out of the shower. I advocated heavily for a water bottle filler which was installed eventually in Stewart, the first dorm on campus to have that done. But with all the renovations done, not everyone was happy with the furniture colors, the signs they had across campus. Basically I heard the need and I went to every single student, got them to fill out a survey and compiled the information and presented it to ASWU and Student Life. If Student Life is going to do future renovations in other dorms, they need to understand that you should be asking students what they like first and trying to see if they like the comfortability of the couches that we present and if they like the signages and that quotes as well.

 

Why should we vote for you rather than your opponent?

Of the two candidates, I have the only ASWU experience. I think it’s really important to know how ASWU works, before you try to lead it especially. It’s a different type of team scenario, and there are so many different elements that you don’t understand about ASWU unless you’ve served ASWU previously. I’ve been attending ASWU meetings since before I was senator and after I was senator as well. That continuity of information, knowledge, the relationships I’ve built with faculty, administration and staff—I want to make sure that those experiences I have under my belt fully serve the community next year as well.

Also, between the two candidates, I’m the only one that has off-campus living experience. Automatically, that includes at least half of our student population. I know what the transition between on- and off-campus living looks like. I want to make sure that those experiences I’ve had is something that everyone across campus and off-campus has as well.

 

How do you plan on working with the rest of ASWU?

Speaking from experience from serving as senator, the relationships between the executive board and the rest of the ASWU assembly is very interesting. We have reps, senators, coordinators and media, and each distinct section of the assembly has a different role and responsibility in accordance with the executive branch. It’s not just top-down; everyone is an equal on the board and in the assembly. Having that personal connection with everyone and having one-on-ones with them and checking in on a personal level, not just what their job entails. I’d definitely be working harder to make sure that is something the ASWU assembly as a whole works on, and make sure that we know each other not just because of our positions, but as human beings. All of us have the same passion of serving the student body and making that our first goal: not politics, not bickering, not funding issues. We have to keep the goal that it’s the students first.

 

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

Overexertion, I think, can definitely be a problem. When I was senator, those first few weeks of being senator—learning everyone’s name, going to Prime Times, setting up Stewart Lawn Dance—I got burned out really fast. However, building off that experience, I know how to manage stress better. I live by my calendar, essentially. But knowing that I have a team to depend on is something that I’d love to experiment with, whether that means delegating tasks or making sure everyone’s on the same page.

 

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

My broad campaign statement is, “increasing the quality of student life across the board.” Our printing budget from last year was halved to what it is this year. We spend nine months out of our year living here, in the Spokane area and on campus; it’s our home away from home. I think ASWU could do a lot better job of making sure that we can call Whitworth our home, whether that means quality of life: quality of academic life or of personal relationships. That’s something I’d love to look forward to next year.

 

What has been the most difficult part of this campaign for you?

The paper ballot system has been really interesting. I served on the student election committee for two years previous to running this semester [and I wish] the standard ethics rules we had of ASWU members not endorsing candidates had stayed true. That email fiasco (the DayStudent fiasco) was unexpected. And especially the YikYak situation. I totally condemn all racist comments that have been made. Ultimately, however the election turns out, Whitworth will have a diverse student body president, and I think that’s a win-win situation there.

 

Interview conducted by one member of The Whitworthian's editorial board, editor-in-chief Katie Shaw. Although sports editor Connor Soudani could not make the interview, he listened to the recording and made himself familiar with the candidate.

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