USUAA presidential candidates lay down the issues at hand

Candidate Alejandra Buitrago (President) and Andrew McConnell (Vice President) - Photo courtesy Alejandra Buitrago

This year’s USUAA presidential candidates have opted to explain their goals in layman’s terms because most students are put off by confusing governmental jargon and an overload of foreign acronyms.

Here are details about them in clear, plain English.

There are two presidential candidate teams running against each other for the election beginning April 3—presidential candidate Alejandra Buitrago and vice presidential candidate Andrew McConnell, and presidential candidate Sam Frederick and vice presidential candidate Kevin Vanderwall. Their race outcomes will determine who steps into office at the start of the fall semester.

Presidential candidate Buitrago and VP candidate McConnell have shared three main goals they plan on implementing if elected, broadcasted en mass through their campaign posters: Connect, Build, Inspire.

“Rant to me about what it is you don’t like about UAA and what we can do to fix that,” Buitrago said.

The team plans on launching a mass survey this summer to find what issues are plaguing the student body as a whole. They will focus on the most prevalent issues and aim to resolve them or at least start working on them by the end of this year.

There is already a line of students anxious to express discontent.

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“You shouldn’t have to hop, skip and jump through hoops to find current information about student government. I feel like I’m playing the game Clue half the time!” UAA student Yvonne Pascual lamented.

Buitrago and McConnell would like to provide students with easier access to student government affairs by live streaming their assembly meetings. Students will see current bills they are working on, what they do with student fees and what they do in general to improve student life. They also want to build a strong rapport with TNL and KRUA radio so that they can work together to keep students informed on a regular basis.

The pair hopes to strengthen USUAA’s senate body. The turnover rate is high because the position requires much time and dedication, both of which most students are limited in.

Buitrago, a journalism and public communications major, is currently a senator for USUAA. She is involved in several leadership roles, including chairman of legislative affairs, and reestablished campus programs like Morning with the Mayor, which has been absent since 2007.

McConnell, a business major, is the commissioner for the state of Alaska. He represents UA student government as a whole on a statewide level.

If you want to meet with Buitrago or McConnell, they will be circulating the Student Union and giving out food the days of elections. Don’t know what they look like? Just check out their pictures on the flyers plastered all over campus.

Candidates Sam Frederick (President) and Kevin Vanderwall (Vice President) - Photo by Krystal Garrison/TNL

Presidential candidate Frederick and vice presidential candidate Vanderwall have decided to forgo the poster angle and instead, rely on their face-to-face interaction with students around campus.

If elected, they both plan on improving or fixing what students already have access to on campus, versus spending student fees on new elaborate projects.

“One of the big issues and basically one of the reasons we decided to run is the issue we face with classroom clickers. They’re overpriced and not compatible between classes,” Frederick said. “We want to standardize clickers.”

Frederick and Vanderwall would like to see the student government spearhead these types of issues by organizing a technology committee. They would act as an intermediary between students and faculty on technology issues.

They also want to form leadership unity with various governance groups around campus like the Greek Council to improve quality of student services, and host more events together as a whole.

Frederick and Vanderwall plan on visiting students in less targeted areas like the University Mall or the Aviation Technology building, located by Merrill Field.

Frederick, a computer science major, is currently serving on a faculty-senate committee with focus on academic integrity. He has served in other areas such as the sustainability committee, and has introduced five constitutional amendments that were passed last year.

Vanderwall, an accounting major, served as the student body vice president in 2010. He has an extensive background in student government.

Government Relations Director Terry Draeger offered some advice for students weary of voting.

“When the chancellor or a high official who runs UAA wants feedback or input, they come to student government—so when it comes to voting, you are voting for the people who will speak on your behalf,” Draeger said.

If you have any questions, just stop by the USUAA student government office in the Student Union. They eagerly welcome visitors.

The spring general student elections are on April 3 and 4. You can visit to cast your votes or stop by any of the various voting booths located around campus. To find all names listed on the voting ballot, just visit the USUAA page on the school’s website.