Constance Schlitter and Riley Fonk have been elected as Student Body President and Vice President for 2019. The duo secured 414 (57.42%) votes in the runoff elections held last Thursday. Meanwhile, Mary McCormick and Robert Davis, who were also a part of the runoff elections, secured 307 (42.58%) of the total of 721 votes casted.
Schlitter and Fonck had their first senate meeting Wednesday evening as student body president and vice president. During this meeting, the senate passed appointments to the new executive board. The senate has approved the appointment of Madeline Fink as Student Body Secretary, Dana Dela Fuente as Student Body Treasurer, Kayden Dangremond as Communications Officer and Luke VanderSchaaff as Chair of the Student Senate. Cosmos sat down with Schlitter and Fonck earlier this week to discuss their experience being elected and their how they would implement the ideas they had in their platform. Excerpts
Ayam: Why do you think you won the election?
Riley: We have a very big presence among the Juniors and Seniors, and I think that support really helped us. Apart from that, we think our platform was very realistic under the premise of what the senate can do, and I believe the student body realized our aims were feasible. Moreover, at the debate, we were able to cover most parts of our platform which also helped a lot.
Constance: I think we owe a lot of it to our friends who tirelessly helped us throughout our campaign. Also, since a lot of them are Athletes, RAs, and CAP Leaders, they knew people on campus that we did not know personally. And their word meant something to others on campus. Also, I believe we were able to effectively use social media to our advantage.
Ayam: What was your first reaction after getting elected?
Constance: I was at my TA session for accounting and thankfully no one was there. Since the elections committee is anonymous, it was Tom Hicks who informed me. I was crying on the phone and screaming at Tom Hicks’s ear for a long time. And he told me “It’s okay Constance, I would be excited too.”
Riley: Constance called me and since she was crying, I was like “Uh-Oh” and suddenly she said, “We Won!”. And then I went like – “What? are you serious?” It was just unbelievable.
Ayam: What are your first priorities? What issues will you address first?
Riley: Part of the criticism we received was about diversity and inclusion and that is something we can begin right away. We certainly want to be involved in organizations like the International Club and Asian American Club and start attending their events. We have already reached out to a few organizations and have meetings planned with them to get their feedback as ideas.
Constance: We must start the projects that demand a longer time like student artwork and landscaping. We need to push these things right from the beginning because they take longer time for approval. While changes are made during summer, it is essential that we lay the groundwork for these projects from the very beginning.
Ayam: How will you address the problem of budgets being rolled back, has it been a major problem lately?
Constance: In all reality, when clubs don’t use their funds, they roll over to the senate’s reserve fund. So, we have this overload – this surplus of money that we must use and that’s what will fund some of the projects we have proposed. We have a $160 thousand staying in our bank account that students have paid. And as a student, I want every dollar to come to fruition in my experience. It really come down to clubs – they must be willing to ask. Although the answer might not always be ‘yes’ but if you tell us what you want to do and how it benefits the students, and the amount you require for the project, it often goes alright.
Riley: We want this money to go to projects that not just current students but also future Kohawks could make use of. And we certainly allocate more funds for student organizations. If student organizations are willing to bring in a certain speaker to come, we are more than willing to make that possible if they have a reasonable proposal. However, your proposal must be specific.
Ayam: All three candidates in the election had a lot of good ideas. Would you be willing to work with the other candidates to make Coe a better place?
Riley: Of course! We have already spoken with Robert and he has emphasized the need to develop the Academic Achievement Program which is a reason why a lot of students come to Coe and why they flourish. We are planning to meet with him over the next week to know what changes he’d like to see in the program.
Constance: I believe it would be beneficial to meet all the candidates to discuss what are the changes that they want to see on campus. And I encourage all of them to run for senate at large elections because everyone was equally qualified and the campus could benefit from their experience.
Article by Ayam Shrestha