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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Q&A with ASNMU presidential candidates


ASNMU, NMU’s student government, elections open this week on Wednesday, April 10 and close Friday, April 12. On this year’s ballot there are nine students running for office including two students for the office of ASNMU President:

  • Cassidy Gibson, current ASNMU Quad II Representative. Gibson is a sophomore majoring in philosophy and political science, and is involved with Campus Votes and Northern Votes.
  • Dana Hinckley, current ASNMU On-campus Apartments Representative. Hinckley is a junior majoring in secondary Spanish education, and is involved with Diversity in Disability and the Commuter and Non-traditional Student Organization.


Ryley Wilcox: Why are you running for ASNMU President?

Gibson: I’m in ASNMU because I felt like I wanted to be more involved in campus and I wanted to know what was going on with the administration and the systems and processes of campus more, and I didn’t feel like I knew where to go for that. Student government is supposed to be the voice of the students and they’re supposed to be in conversation with administration, so that was the biggest reason I joined ASNMU to begin with. It’s propelled me to [run for] president as well, just because seeing what’s going on with administration, where our money’s being used, the conversations that are being had behind closed doors, I think it’s really important that students at least get a glimpse of what’s going on there. I’m definitely willing to share those kinds of things and [serving as] a good medium for that conversation between administration and students. Students have a lot of concerns and administration sometimes doesn’t know why they have those concerns, so I think that medium is a really healthy thing to have.

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Hinckley: I’m running for ASNMU president because I’ve been really involved in a bunch of student organizations throughout the course of my time at NMU and I found myself really trying to change things [and] advocate for students who might not have as many resources as others. So, for example, I’m the President of Diversity in Disability and I’ve also done a lot with commuter students, and in doing that, I’ve found myself in this position in ASNMU, and I really liked my time in student government, and I think I’d do a really great job as president.


RW: What goals do you have as ASNMU President?

CG: One of the goals my running partner, Kelly Ryan, and I have is cost-marking classes. That would look similar to when you Google a restaurant and it has one-, two- or three-dollar signs for how expensive the restaurant is going to be. That would just take place with the provost and administrators and faculty. We would ask them to mark their classes during the registration period, seeing how expensive the class is going to be, give or take. So, then students who are maybe taking electives that are more expensive would be able to choose other classes. If you’re in kind of a bind with money, you’ll be able to say, ‘Oh, maybe I should save up for this class over the summer because the books going to be $350.’ So, I think transparency there with cost is a big thing. That’s one of the big implementations we want to make. Another thing is with mental health, we’d really like to start seeing, what I hear a lot, is that advisors aren’t necessarily as hands-on as we’d like them to be. So, one way that we’re going to try to mitigate that is by coming up with a system where graduate psychology students would kind of be in contact with undergrads. That would, of course, be overseen by a licensed faculty member that would give undergraduates an opportunity to talk to graduates. Sometimes advisors don’t tell you what kind of classes you need to take, and then you [are a] junior/senior and you’re like, ‘Oh, I have to take a bunch of summer classes.’ So, I think that that would give undergraduates an opportunity to talk to people who have already been through that process and see what’s going to work best for them. Then we’re able to expand the program where it’s not just psychology graduate students, but it’s other graduate students, we can match up [in] the program. There is a similar program to this right now [that does] language therapy. The graduate students help undergrad students with language therapy which I think is great, so this is modeled after that.

DH: A lot of the goals that I have for my time being president line up with my current goals. I want to use my role as president to reach out to students and expand on them. So, my current goals, I’m just going to list a couple of them. [I want] to expand commuter resources. We have already built that lounge space down in Harden [Hall]. But I also want to create a carpool website so that commuter students that are coming from the same area can communicate with others, and just [say] ‘Hey, I usually leave at 8 a.m.; Do you want to come with me?’ Then also, I want all students to be able to use this carpool website when they’re going back home for breaks, to just say, ‘I’m going downstate on the fourteenth. Anyone need a ride?’ Instead of having to do that on the hub because that can be kind of annoying. I also want to increase resources for students with disabilities. So that means access to disability services as well as accessibility itself on campus. There’s a lot of students who might be on the spectrum, or just neurodivergent students that might need certain things like sensory rooms or just a place to have a break or other miscellaneous resources and I just want to be able to provide that for those students. This is one of my bigger goals, I want to be able to create more of a sense of community among students at NMU. So, I want to take all of these student organizations and bring them together. We’ll talk about that in a second, but I want to bring all student organizations together and create one big sense of community.


RW: How do you plan to meet these goals?

CG: We’re going to have to work with the provost. We’re going to have to have conversations with faculty members, professors. It’s possible that they don’t love it at first because it’s change. It’s important to know that we’re not asking professors to change any materials or change how they’re going to operate their class whatsoever. We’re just asking that they make a note of how expensive their materials are going to be so that students are in a better position to make good financial decisions. So that one’s just going to be a lot of conversations with faculty and then I think pretty similar with the graduate program. I would really love to get into contact with the [language] graduates who are doing that language therapy now to see how that system is working, [to] have the success that they’re getting from it and the systems that they’re going through and by doing that, I’m sure that we’ll be able to implement something similar with the [psychology] graduate program.

DH: Off of what I was saying about how I want to increase student belonging and create more of a sense of community, what I want to do is, I want to take representatives from each student organization on campus and I want to bring them together and have them all share their ideas with each other, and that will increase collaborations with student organizations. So, I want more. More collaborations and more of a sense of unity among students themselves, and you start with students and then student organizations.


RW: Why are these goals important to you?

CG: One of the biggest things on a college campus is money for students and then another thing is mental health. I personally have seen firsthand how college can hit students. I feel like sometimes, as my running mate Kelly Ryan says, she always says NMU is good at putting a band-aid on things. We have the Wildpups, we have the beautiful new WellBeing Center that you can go get appointments at, but sometimes it’s ‘what are you going to do when it’s midnight and I don’t know how I’m gonna pay my next tuition’ and all that kind of stuff. Sometimes money and mental health go hand in hand. So, I feel like those are the two things that are on the forefront of our radar.

DH: Well, I think all these goals are important just because most of my goals are focused on students as individuals, and that’s what ASNMU exists for, is to connect with students and give them a voice. Also, a lot of people don’t even know that ASNMU exists and I kind of want to, I don’t necessarily want to shove ASNMU in people’s faces, but I just want to be that middle person for student organizations and for students, and to be able to allow everyone to come together through student government.


RW: A common critique of ASNMU is that students are unaware of what student government does. How are you going to make sure students are aware of ASNMU?

CG: ASNMU is student government for all students and like I mentioned before it is the perfect medium for those conversations to be had from administration to students. I think that although in the public eye, it doesn’t look like we’re doing much. It’s more behind the scenes type of stuff, and if I get elected, I would love to bring that more forefront. I would love to be more boots on the ground. One of the biggest things that I’d like to do is work with events with other organizations more, whether that be co-hosting events or straight-out funding events. I think that student organizations are the lifeline of our campus. We don’t have anything on campus [if] we don’t have any engagement, any type of life if we don’t have those student organizations and kids who will engage with those student organizations. So, I think that funneling a lot, a lot more of our energy and our money and our priority into those organizations is definitely on the forefront of my list. I think that in and of itself will put as ASNMU more on the forefront of people’s brains. I think that it won’t only help us in that way, but then in turn, it will help those organizations because we’ll be able to be more vibrant with them. We need more engagement and that’s a two-way road. So ASNMU needs to get out there, we need to get in your face a little bit more. We need to say ‘hey, this is us, this is what we’re doing.’ Then we need that engagement when we do do that from our students. We had a really good semester this past semester. I think we had a lot of really good hands-on [members] and a lot of good events. A lot of those suggestions we had I’d love to implement if I become if I come in office. I think that one of my main goals is just getting ASNMU out there, getting students to utilize the resources they have because there really are so many resources here that students just don’t know about. and their money is what’s going towards funding it. So, it should definitely be there for them, too.

DH: Okay, so I 100% agree with that point where I was also in that in that situation where I [thought], ‘I don’t even know what ASNMU is. I don’t even know what student government does.’ I thought that exact same thing, and then I joined student government and I found that it was a little odd how we were all working on our own individual things and not doing something as one cohesive unit and I thought that was so weird. I just felt like I was doing my own things and sharing it with everyone. But over the last year, that has definitely changed. We’ve definitely done things together more often. For example, one of the things that I put together was that ice cream social event, Gwen [current ASNMU President] helped with the bracelets, and I helped with the ice cream social, and that really seemed to bring students together and bring attention to ASNMU. The reason why I want to bring attention to ASNMU is so we can build that strong foundation. We don’t know what we want to be about and how we want to structure our government until we know what the students want out of us. So basically, we’re starting from scratch. I don’t want to say that we’re completely destroying everything that ASNMU has, because it’s a great structure that we have built especially with that constitution, amendments and everything. But I kind of just want to adjust things so that we’re working for the students and students are more connected. We recently went to a student government conference, and I talked to some people from other schools, and they will have like 100 plus students that are not in their student government just attend. They’ll host their weekly meetings in these auditoriums, and they’ll have 100 plus students go just to watch. [At NMU] no one would come and that’s crazy because nobody knows that we exist and no one knows what we do and even if they know we exist, ‘why do students care?’ I want to give them a reason to care. I want to give them a reason to come support their student government and allow us to support them and let them know what we can do as student government.


RW: Why should students vote for you?

CG: I want to be a strong voice for students. I think that I’m able to listen to all different types of opinions and perspectives, but also be very firm on one opinion and perspective when it comes to having that conversation with the administration. I think vice versa, I’m able to have good conversations with adults, respectfully yet firm, and deliberative conversations where I’m going to be able to say ‘hey, this is what’s wrong, this is what needs to happen, if it can,’ and then be able to relay that to students very well in a timely manner. I’ve always been a very good leader. I feel that I’m a natural leader and I’m able to express other people’s opinions as if they’re my own and bring people of many different backgrounds together, and I’m excited to do that if I am elected.

DH: I think students should vote for me because I get things done. I see a goal and I hear what students have to say about it. When a student tells me like their personal story, that really resonates with me, and I will do everything in my power to try to make that change. For example, with Diversity in Disability, I hear so many things from students all the time and one of the main complaints that we have had is accessibility on campus. So, we have been meeting with countless people about accessibility, and I’m going off on a tangent here, but basically, I know how to get things done on campus.


In addition to the presidential candidates, the following students are running for office. For Vice President: Grayson Grifhorst, Ruby Joseph and Kelly Ryan. For College of Arts and Sciences Representative: Ben Doriot, Halle Johnson and Ava Wilson. For Quad II Representative: Jack Belcher.

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About the Contributor
Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox, News Editor
I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able to learn more about writing and collect some new passions from the stories I have covered. I have always been a learner who was curious to know more about everything and figure out how things worked, which I have been able to do in my time at the North Wind. In my remaining time in college and on staff, I cannot wait to learn even more and find some new passions along the way.