Effective communication between ASNMU and the student body, technology and the
Progressive Student Ticket were at the forefront of the issues discussed at the candidate forum.
Some of the candidates who are running in the upcoming ASNMU elections gathered in
Starbucks Wednesday night to field questions from the election committee and the general student populous.
Finding better and more effective ways for ASNMU to inform the student body about their projects and for finding a way for students to express their concerns was agreed upon by all the candidates.
Presidential candidate Kash Dhanapal said he felt that ASNMU members should attend
student organization meetings to increase communication.
“Just go to the meeting and talk to them [the organizations]. Then after you’ve met with them keep in contact with the president through e-mail and then that way
if you have a question you can email the leaders of the organization and get a response back,” he said.
Neal Glatt, another presidential candidate, felt that finding ways to better promote ASNMU would help facilitate communication.
“I think seeking promotion is very high on the list of priorities of importance. I think that ASNMU needs to start talking to
Public Eye News, The North Wind and Radio X on a more regular basis,” he said.
Jason Morgan, who is running for down campus representative said the lack of connection between students and ASNMU is the biggest issue facing the organization.
“[ASNMU’s] goal is to work with the student body, and so many students hardly know what it does or that it exists. It does a lot of great things now, and could do a lot more with more active members and more active leadership. But the main thing is just connecting with students. Students should know who their representatives are and who to talk to about their concerns,” he said.
Mary Raymond, current professional studies representative, described how she currently
keeps in contact with her constituents by e-mail and noted that it was a simple way
to keep students engaged and involved.
The ASNMU Web site was also a highly contested topic at the forum. Jeff Thomas, a candidate for up campus representative,
noted many problems with the current Web site.
“One of the things that inspired me to run was reading the page on the site that
described the various sections of the [ASNMU] board. After reading it, I realized that I knew basically nothing about what
any of them actually did,” he said.
Thomas also pointed out that the minutes from ASNMU and Student Finance Committee
have not been posted in weeks, or even months. Making the Web site an informative
resource for the campus community is very important, he said.
Glatt disagreed with Thomas, saying that he did not feel that the Web site was in
need of fixing.
“There is currently a working online syllabi section. All the members of the board are updated. There are some sections
that aren’t updated, which is one of the troubles of trying to update a Web site without an in-house Information Technology person,” he said. “I think that ASNMU has been working hard to improve that but when representatives are working on a project, they get really excited about finishing it
and forget about the promotion until the very end,” he said in defense of the Web site.”
Brian Lantto, a presidential candidate also felt that improving the Web site was a priority.
“I think that the Internet is the most useful tool of the modern day and it’s impossible for any one student to interact with thousands of constituents. So it
is important to get that up and running.”
Candidates fielded questions from students in the audience about apathy on campus, the
progressive student ticket and safety on campus, especially minority groups.
Current off campus representative and candidate for the same position, Nick
Hinrichsen, addressed the issue of an apathetic student body and its effect on student government.
“I think student apathy is present on campus,” he said. “I think part of that is the lack of communication that has been
talked about and I think part of that is on the students. The next ASNMU board will only be as good as you make it.”
Presidential candidate Hobie Webster, his running mate Jaclyn “Jack” Calamaro, along
with several other candidates are running on the progressive student ticket. Webster
described it as a group of driven and passionate people who wanted to make ASNMU better than it already is.
“Change is not easy. You have to have conviction. You have to have a clear path . I think that’s exactly what I’ve offered as a presidential candidate, a very clear platform, a very clear plan that shows
exactly how Jack and I will turn things around,” he said.
Amy Hickey, candidate for off-campus representative, addressed a question from one of the co-presidents of OUTlook about safety on campus for minority student
“I think that there are things we can do on campus, to make it a safer place, not just a safer place for GLBTQ [gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transgender or questioning] students, but for all students who aren’t straight white, male hetero-normative,”
she said. “We, as ASNMU candidates and representatives need to talk to our organizations and ask them what we can do to make this a more accepting place and not just tolerate, but to celebrate diversity.”
Calamaro agreed that Northern’s campus is already a relatively safe place, but challenged the audience to think about how it might feel to be in the shoes of a member a minority group.
She also noted that ASNMU should work on educating the campus about diversity.
All the candidates agreed that they want to facilitate communication and improve things
for the student body.
“ASNMU offers so many different services, they can help you with many different things and people don’t know about it,” Morgan said. “Students need to know what their student government can help them
with, what they can ask for help on and that they actually care about it.”