The two candidates for speaker of the student senate said they want to focus on creating a positive culture in the student senate and advocating for the student body.
Cameron Eubanks, third-year international studies and criminal justice student
Eubanks said his platform can be summed up in three words — transition, transform and transcend.
He wants to transition the student senate to focusing on what is accomplishable and what directly impacts the student body, like working to add more water bottle fillers rather than passing legislation about national issues.
“How I want to create a more positive environment in the senate is to make sure that we're focusing on legislation that impacts the student (in) their daily lives ... to focus on real life change that affects the person walking beside me on Greene Street, the person eating across from me at Russell House,” Eubanks said.
Eubanks plans to transform by improving academic advising and disability access on campus. He wants disabled students to be given equal opportunities by student services and pass legislation that will support the university's efforts in changing advising to a professional model.
He then wants to transcend Student Government by having student senate become a more "cohesive branch" of Student Government.
Eubanks currently serves as the director of student services in the cabinet of Student Body President Reedy Newton. Previously, he held the position as senator in the 112th and 113th student senates.
“I would say, going from writing the change and to implementing the change really shows you how Student Government can be effective on this campus," Eubanks said. "I think that's what kind of best prepares me for this role, is seeing legislation that can work and seeing how that works on a university scale.”
Jordyn Vélez, second-year political science student
Vélez's platform is centered around engagement with the student body.
One way she hopes to accomplish this is better communication about elections. She said she has noticed in her time in the senate, that the student body does not know the basics about Student Government, like how senate delegations are set up, or how to use the public student senate Google Drive. She said there should be better tabling, more promotion of the elections and more polling places to make Student Government more accessible.
She also wants to make sure the student senate is a welcoming community for new senators. She thinks encouraging conflict resolution, including using Student Government advisors to mediate, and making sure to communicate with everyone in the senate could help foster a better environment.
“When I joined senate, I knew the speaker and maybe two other people. So I got in there, I sat down on my seat by myself and I went home and I cried because I felt for three sessions that I had gotten myself into something that I was not going to make any friends with and it was going to be miserable. So right now, I try and go up to every new senator and talk to them,” Vélez said.
She said better communication and more parliamentary procedure training, especially for incoming senators, could help make the senate less intimidating and intense during debates.Vélez said she wants all student senators to receive adequate training, even if they fill a vacancy later in the term.
Vélez, who intends to graduate a year early, is currently the chief of staff to the current speaker of the student senate, Natalie Trimble. She was also elected as a senator to the 114th student senate, where she served on three committees.
“I know what it's like to be in the seat of a senator, and I know what it's like to be managing everything. So, you know, I'm able to gain that perspective that the senators have and make sure that I'm accommodating for them completely, but also, I know the nitty gritty stuff already,” Vélez said.