ASNMU election candidates face off in debate

Meet the ASNMU presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2023-24 school year


Joad Blaauw-Hara, Contributing writer

The ASNMU presidential debate took place between running candidates last Wednesday night. The event precedes the ASNMU general election, which will take place from April 4 to April 7.

Presidential and vice-presidential candidates answered a list of questions for a live and online audience, introducing themselves to voters and outlining goals that they hope to accomplish if they are elected. Zora Binert and Micah Benjamin are running against Gwendolyn Feamster and Anna Tousley for president and vice presidential positions, respectively.

Binert is the current ASNMU president running for re-election. She is a nursing major with a psychology minor. She began working for student government in her dorms and was introduced to ASNMU from there. 

Benjamin, Binert’s running mate, is vying for the vice presidential position. He is a junior in the nursing program and a former NMU student-athlete. He has experience as an ASNMU representative.

Feamster is a new presidential candidate. She is a junior political science student and is the current vice president of ASNMU. She is a resident adviser and is involved in a variety of student organizations.

Tousley is Feamster’s running mate. She is a freshman and is majoring in political science. She has experience serving in ASNMU and is involved in a variety of student organizations, including a leadership position with the Conservation Crew.

Candidates answered several questions during the debate, a few of which came from the audience. 


Question: What are two things you would like to accomplish in the upcoming school year?

Binert: “Two of the things that Northern really needs to focus on is wellbeing as a whole and making that accessible to students. One of the things that I pushed with the administration was ‘why do we have a health center across campus when we have students living on the opposite end?’ … and also combining that with counseling and consultation services. Students shouldn’t have to go to two different places on campus for their wellbeing. Wellbeing also translates to student wages, academic health and life in general. The other thing that we should work on is campus safety … I’ve been working with the administration on getting better equipment for safety.”

Benjamin: “The two goals that I would like to accomplish are increasing diversity equity inclusion agendas … I’ll ensure that these incentives are seen and sustained … I’ll ensure that the agendas that are met engage all individuals … I hope to accomplish an increase in sustainability tactics, getting a deeper perspective on what is already happening through Northern to decrease catastrophic events happening to our planet.”

Feamster: “We’ve had a lot of really cool mental health efforts in the past year … but something that I’m super passionate about is making sure that we feel good physically too … NMU students deserve food that makes them feel good …We need better wages for our student workers … We need to expand our dining options, make sure dietary restrictions are being cared for and make sure we can have extended hours for those who work … We need to bring the student government back to the students … My second big goal is continuing to grow our assembly so we can accurately advocate for the majority of campus, not just one part.”

Tousley: “I want to implement a new safety strategy with adding phone numbers of important entities in a student’s room … Students would never be negatively affected by this due to medical amnesty and confidentiality agreements … Secondly, I want to increase cross communication on this campus … Students deserve to feel like they have a place on this campus … An increase in awareness of the clubs and events available to them would do just that … This can be implemented by increasing presence on social media or by sending semi-frequent emails.”


Question: What should be ASNMU’s top priority, as a whole, over the next year?

Binert: “ASNMU’s top priority should be our own transparency to students … Advertising what we do on campus … And really making sure that we have students who feel healthy and safe and comfortable here.”

Benjamin: “ASNMU’s top priority for next year will be to ensure transparency to the students, faculty and community of Northern … I will ensure that all students in Northern are aware of the opportunities and tasks that ASNMU brings, concluding in an increase in engagement from all students of Northern.”

Feamster: “The top priority is making sure students feel confident in their housing … We cannot recruit and retain students if there’s nowhere for them to go … I want to make sure if I’m elected president that we have a concrete plan of how to address this … If you can’t get acclimated to your community, how are you supposed to be a part of it?”

Tousley: “The top priority should be making ASNMU for everyone … Many students deserve the knowledge of the benefits of programs we offer … The more people in ASNMU, the more ideas can come about and the faster they can be accomplished … If people knew these programs were put on by us, more students may be inclined to join [ASNMU] … More students in ASNMU equals more student voices being heard.”


Question: What do you think is the best way to bridge the gap between the student body and the administration?

Binert: “I think the best way to bridge this gap is making sure that we have an administration who’s present with the students … And holding them accountable when they’re here on campus and in the community, and making sure that they’re going to student organization meetings … and being able to actually be present here and not just come here.”

Benjamin: “The best way to bridge the gap between the student body and the administration is transparency, ensuring that all students are welcome to understand what might be happening through plans that the administration acts on, and ensuring that all students have a voice for themselves. It has been very important for the students to see that the administration cares through being on campus and being a part of the Northern community.”

Feamster: “The best way to bridge the gap is actively informing and educating through outreach … There are so many opportunities besides a formal presentation … How cool would it be if we had a leadership recognition banquet multiple times a year, where students can ask questions to trustees directly … Getting students in front of administration, and getting administration in front of the students.”

Tousley: “The best way to bridge the gap is through constant communication … We must work with the administration step-in-step, and not in opposition to them … When this occurs without an abundance of emotion, things can be changed. Students need to understand that not everything can move as fast as they expect, and the administration needs to know the urgency of some situations.”

The entirety of Wednesday’s debate is available on ASNMU’s Facebook page.