Meet the candidates for next year’s ASA President, Vice President

With the Augustana Student Association’s (ASA) spring elections just over a week away, here’s important information on this year’s candidates for president and vice president.

The two tickets consist of Brayden Harris running for president with Laura Hartke as his running mate and Courtney Chrystal running for president with Mekhi Moore as her running mate.

Brayden Harris and Laura Hartke

Who are they?

Harris is a junior data science and environmental studies major. In addition to currently serving as a junior senator on ASA, he is also a team lead for Recreational Services at the Elmen. Hartke is a junior nursing major on the pre-medicine track with minors in biology and sign language interpreting. She is the president of Pinky Swear PACK, a recruiter for Augustana’s branch of Be the Match, the treasurer for the South Dakota Student Nurses Association and a student assistant for the athletics department.

What’s their platform?

Harris and Hartke are running on a platform entitled Viking STRONG, which includes the ideas of sustainability, transparency, relationships, opportunities, nurturing environment and generosity. According to Harris, this platform works together to create a “unified and honest” community.

“Our campaign really is multi-faceted, so we have multiple goals that we would like to see to fruition,” Harris said. “[Viking STRONG] most encompasses our visions for campus going forward.”

Harris said one of their goals would be to build relationships and collaborate with other organizations, such as the city of Sioux Falls and the student governments of other South Dakota universities. From working with other schools, they hope to address topics such as diversity and inclusion and sustainability and to find changes that Augustana can make to solve those issues.

Describing their platform as project-based, they also have plans to make improvements across campus. On the idea of opportunity, they would like to increase the availability of work study jobs. For mental health, Hartke said they would plan to make “de-stress” locations throughout campus to promote mental health.

On the topic of transparency and the Vision 2030 plan, Hartke said the two would plan to increase the amount of communication and information that administration provides.

Courtney Chrystal and Mekhi Moore

Who are they?

Chrystal is a sophomore biology and government major on the pre-law track. She currently serves as the chair of the ASA Co-Curriculum Committee. Additionally, she is the vice president of Women in STEM and a Union Board of Governors (UBG) dance governor. Moore is a sophomore sign language interpreting major with a government minor. In addition to serving as a sophomore senator on ASA, he is the president of Deaf Awareness, the vice president of the Black Student Union (BSU) and an ambassador for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office.

What’s their platform?

Chrystal and Moore are running on a campaign of three ideas: amplify, reform and impact. According to Chrystal, amplification means making sure administration can hear students’ voices and their needs, reform means guaranteeing that students are in every conversation where decisions are made and impact means creating change that students can feel.

“The whole point,” Chrystal said, “is to get to this place where students are having conversations, those conversations are being heard by administration, answered for and resulting in change that students can point to.”

“With the platform that we have, it’s to ensure that ASA is being taken seriously,” Moore said. “We are going to create policy where it does impact the student body.”

According to Moore, many changes the two would like to make revolve around diversity, equity and inclusion on ASA and across campus. Their goals include hosting diversity summits that feature guest speakers, designating memorial spaces for affinity groups to use and creating diversity reports that would evaluate the situations systemically non-dominant students face.

Chrystal said the two would also like to see changes to Augustana’s mental health approach. Their main goal is to rework parts of the curriculum so that it’s less stressful for students. Their plans include rearranging testing dates and pushing to get counselling to count for the core curriculum’s well-being requirement.

The candidates will participate in a presidential debate at 8 p.m. on April 26 via Zoom.

Students will be able to vote for next year’s ASA president and vice president on Viking Central from April 28 to April 30, when polls will close at noon.

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