ASA candidates address diversity, transparency, waterslides

Roughly 80 students filed into Hamre Hall on Tuesday night to listen to three candidates for Augustana Student Association’s (ASA) next president along with their vice presidential running mates.

Seated on tall chairs, the candidates answered questions from moderators senior Jessica Ruf and junior Rebekah Tuchscherer as well as students in the audience for almost one and a half hours. The questions ranged from ways to limit the campus’s impact on the environment to stimulating transparency and communication.

After an introduction from ASA’s current president, Anna Stritecky, the campaigns presented their platforms during opening remarks.

Starting, junior Elizabeth Petersen, running as president, and junior Trey Waldrop, running as vice president, said they would create an inclusive campus by encouraging administrators to help minority populations in Sioux Falls attend Augustana.

Waldrop, the only candidate without prior experience in ASA, said his perspective as a constituent is a strength.

asa podium
Graphic by Wyatt Dickson.

“As a member of the constituency, I have been able to realize that there are certain areas that we could really improve and are really worth our time,” Waldrop said.

Junior Kirtana Krishna Kumar, president, and sophomore Hunter Lipinski, vice president, said they want to foster communication by adding non-voting members on ASA committees and encouraging dialogue between student groups and the Senate.

Krishna Kumar said she wants to create a campus that works like “the way cells work all together in the body.”

“Hunter and I want to work with the administration, with you all, with all of us together to make Augie like a door and a key for the rest of our lives,” Krishna Kumar said.

Junior Luca Amayo, president, and junior Audrey Cope, vice president, said they hope to expand campus job opportunities for international students and set up an entrepreneurial fund for students pursuing patents or a small business.

Freshman Zach Rold, who is enrolled in the Augie Access Program, asked Amayo and Cope if it was possible to attach a waterslide to the Elmen Center pool.

Amayo said his campaign could look into a temporary slide that could be moved during swim meets or classes and that Rold’s question touched upon the larger issue of certain buildings lacking accommodations for people with disabilities.

“What we want to do is make sure that we can address those so that we can bring in even more students into the Augie Access Program,” Amayo said.

All campaigns agreed that the next ASA administration must increase transparency and communication between students and administrators. Specifically, they concurred that the Board of Trustees’ announcement for the 2030 Vision on the last day of finals for fall classes was not an accurate reflection of transparency.

The campaigns also unanimously acknowledged that the next president and vice president must make sustainability a central policy next academic year, though they differed in how they would advance sustainability.

Petersen and Waldrop said their goals are increasing recycling, introducing composting to reduce food waste, and, ultimately, advocating for powering at least one building with solar panels. Petersen said they would likely begin with the Chapel of Reconciliation.

Amayo and Cope proposed installing five picnic tables equipped with solar-powered charging outlets and moving away from single-use cups and straws.

Krishna Kumar and Lipinski said their sustainability policies would be food-based and would hinge on an anaerobic digester that incubates microorganisms that break down organic material into methane which can be burned for energy.

After the debate, junior Layne Symington said he entered Hamre considering Amayo and Cope and left more certain they were, so far, his preferred candidates.

“[Amayo and Cope] were very confident in their answers, and how they presented themselves was very strong,” Symington said.

Junior Katelyn Luze, though initially pulling for Petersen and Waldrop before the debate, agreed with Symington and said Amayo and Cope won her over by their support for increasing access for people with disabilities in campus buildings.

Junior Laura Schwartz said she remains unsure, but she does not consider some of the sustainability policies, like picnic tables, feasible because of South Dakota’s weather.

Senior Nick Reiffenberger and sophomore Ryan Sully said the campaigns’ policies were fairly similar, but they are ultimately looking for a president and vice president who would advocate for transparency between students and administrators.

As track athletes, Reiffenberger and Sully said they did not appreciate the administration’s lack of communication regarding the transition to DI and the Larson Track & Field Complex.

“I don’t know if any of them really stuck out as having a brand new, big idea,” Sully said. “I want to see if someone could actually make [administrators] change, but I don’t really see how ASA can do that.”

The candidates finished off the evening mingling with students and eating cake in the Humanities concourse.

Students can vote for ASA’s next president and vice president on Viking Central starting Apr. 8 through Apr. 9. Polls will close at 7 p.m.

If no campaign receives a simple majority, the two campaigns that netted the most votes will move on to the second round of voting on Apr. 15 through Apr. 16.

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