2019 ISG election candidates Q&A

Published: Last Updated on

Voting for the Indianapolis Student Government executive board will be open from March 4-7 on MyUIndy with the winners announced on March 8. Applications, campaigning and elections for the four representatives for each class and any unfilled executive positions will begin after spring break, according to Assistant Director of Student Activities Steven Freck. Freck said that ISG’s purpose is to serve as bridge between students and administration.

“Indianapolis Student Government is here to serve as a point in which their student peers can talk about issues, concerns, places to enact change or empower one another…,” Assistant Director of Student Activities Nicole Schuch said. “But really, we work with the students in different capacities in terms of our executive board versus our student representatives, all of which are here to be the liaison between the university and the students that they are in classes with and live with to help communicate back and forth about different projects or anything that we hear or see.”

Freck said this is one of the most contested elections that the University of Indianapolis has had in several years which could be due to ISG becoming more active on campus. There are three candidates running for president and one running for vice-president.

  1. Brayton Lipperd, running for president
  2. Karlye Vonderwell, running for president
  3. Jamarcus Walker, running for president
  4. Dani Merlo, running for vice-president


Presidential Candidate: Brayton Lipperd, junior theatre major

What is your platform?
1) Mental health resources:

“I’ve heard for myself, and a couple other students that I’m friends with, that they’re on the waiting list for the clinic…. I understand we only have so many clinical therapists on campus, but I feel like such an important need and resource on campus shouldn’t have a wait list. So, one of my main areas under that platform is to help bring more resources, whether that be try to get more therapists, [or] bring more resources for people to talk and be open about it.”

2) Diversity, equity and inclusion

“I want to start a diversity council with all the presidents of the cultural RSOs on campus so we can address and bring problems that we’re facing, that are about diversity and equity together and work with… the VP of diversity, equity and come together and solve issues. And also bring programming to campus that can help educate, because we have a lot of diverse students.”

3) Student engagement

Brayton Lipperd

“A lot of our students have issues or problems that they want addressed on our campus, but don’t have that resource and they don’t know who to go to. Because if you talk to any student, they’ll have concerns or want to voice their opinion. So, my aim… is to have a student engagement and involvement forum where we can bring the campus leaders like [Vice-President for Student & Campus Affairs and Dean of Students] Kory Vitangeli, Pres Rob [Manuel], the Provost Steven Kolison…. and just bringing the campus leaders together [in person], so ISG board and campus executives and students can all come together collectively. It’s a form of [a] solution to the problem that’s being addressed.”

What makes you stand out as a candidate?

“I feel like what makes me different [is that] I’m here for the students. I understand what it’s like to be a student whose voice isn’t heard…. So I feel like coming from all these different areas—campus program board, the theatre department, being a commuter, being a resident, being a peer mentor—as such diverse areas that I can bring to the table and help address different groups.”

What do you consider to be the role of ISG at UIndy?

“To be campus’ voice because if Kory Vitangeli gets 30, 50, 80 emails from students, she can’t read through all those, and know what to fix. ISG is supposed to be the mouthpiece of the students. We’re the liaison between campus executives and the student body.”

Presidential Candidate: Karlye Vonderwell, sophomore political science and international relations double major

What is your platform?
1) Food donation program

“The main purpose of that would be to see if we can take excess food, that would originally be thrown away from the caf, and store it and then donate it to local food shelters or homeless shelters around the area in Indianapolis. I’ve just noticed that we throw a lot of food away. Some people have told me that there’s a group on campus that does this already, other people have said there’s not…. However, that would be an example of something that I wouldn’t necessarily build from the ground up since it already exists, but I would kind of, you know, put a flame under it to kind of light it on fire and make it bigger and at least get the student body to know that it exists.”

2) Awareness of mental health and stability

Karlye Vonderwell

“That ranges from everything on how to stay healthy, like think positively, don’t succumb to mass amounts of stress during finals week and how to take a second for self care and those things. But also, I want to focus on kind of the darker part of it and that is the actual illnesses themselves. There’s a dialogue that’s been started about depression and anxiety, because I think, especially nowadays, and especially in college, those are very prevalent. But I don’t want to just limit it to depression and anxiety because people suffer from more than that. I also want to go into bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and kind of the lesser known, but still common disorders. My whole goal for that is to do what I can as a person and as a university [representative] to erase the stigma, at least on campus, that exists behind having mental illness.”

3) Cultural diversity and understanding

“I want to establish a mentorship between international students and national students. This would obviously operate on a volunteer basis…. A lot of international students hang out with other international students…. But they, again, only hang out with each other. And that might not necessarily be because they don’t want to hang out with us. That’s probably more because they don’t know how to relate to an American because things are so different.… So my goal is to, then, be able to pair them up with an American at the very beginning. Maybe one American will have two or three different international students based off just how many people volunteered for the position. And then they do things with them: they hang out, they talk to them, they give them a friend that is an American…. I think that’s a great way to get them introduced to other Americans and get better acclimated to campus life, but also Indianapolis. Then at the same time it provides that international student with an automatic platform to then discuss their cultural diversity.”

What makes you stand out as a candidate?

“What makes me different, I would say, is one, my background with public speaking. Not everyone can say that they were teaching college level classes at 10 years old; I did that for years. And not everyone can say they were a pharmaceutical [spokesperson] at 10 years old. I just have a wide variety of experience with leadership…. I’ve been in the teaching position. I have been in the group leader position with the orientation leaders. I’ve been president of a club before, so I know the responsibility that that entails. But I’ve also been in several clubs where I am just a member, so I see how other people operate or run their clubs and it has provided me with different perspectives…. And then also with the other two candidates that I’m running against. They’re both great people, but I am the only one that has the experience with political science and the position of president puts you in positions in which the politics come into play. I have experience and connections within the political sphere, which I think might give me a leg up just a little bit. Because I was an orientation leader, I know a lot of people on campus. So, when it comes to making decisions based off of what I believe the student body feels, I have hundreds of different people that I know personally that I can approach and ask…”

What do you consider to be the role of ISG at UIndy?

“First and foremost, the position is representing the student body, and that is the most important part because why else do we have elections? We have elections, so people are represented in government.”

Presidential Candidate: Jamarcus Walker, junior religion major, incumbent president

What is your platform?
1) Student well-being

“I’m focusing on student well-being.

2) Promoting the Greyhound spirit and tradition

“So pushing events like homecoming and making them better for students, making sure that programming and events are what students want and not just something that was thrown together just because they thought it would be good.”

3) Supporting RSOs

“Focusing on RSOs, making sure that they feel supported by the university to continue to do programming. But also not just saying, ‘Hey, we support you,” but I’m putting money where the mouth is and being able to help fund programming, just creating that collaboration piece across RSOs.”

What makes you stand out as a candidate?

Jamarcus Walker

“I have the experience. One, I have the relationship with the administration and saying that I’m able to have those conversations. I have an insight into both the administration role, so knowing what the university is looking for and how ISG can work with university to make sure that both are being helped and that both are being better. But I also have the connection with the students. I have a presence that’s different. People know that they can come talk to me if they have problems. If it’s one of those ‘Hey, Jamarcus, I really think this needs to change’ at 10:00 p.m. I’m going to respond, maybe not at that exact moment, but I’ll get back to them within the day. So I think I just have the relationship aspect, one that sets me apart, but also the determination and being able to say that I want to do this. This isn’t just something that I’m looking to put on my resume to say that I did, but it’s something that’s a passion of mine that I am proud of, that I can continue to promote the well-being and the community that UIndy brings. I met my best friends here, because of UIndy.”

What do you consider to be the role of ISG at UIndy?

“So the role of ISG is there to be a voice for the students. So I don’t say that I could represent roughly 6,000 students at all, whatsoever, and I will continue to say that because I’m not an accurate voice for all students. But the role of ISG is to serve as a way of getting that insight, having those hard conversations, being kind of a support to the university, but also focusing on the students, not being too involved in the behind the scenes administration and that are no longer thinking about the needs and the concerns of students. But having the insight of the university to say, ‘Hey, I think this is where we can go from there.’”

Vice-Presidential Candidate: Dani Merlo, sophomore political science major, incumbent vice-president

What is your platform?
1) Healthier dining options

“I think that a lot of times students feel kind of trapped, like especially if they have night classes and they have to eat fried food or the only thing in the grab-and-go is candy bars and things like that.”

2) Campus safety

“I think that there’s a lot of ways we can improve upon that, especially working with the UIndy police. I think that at night when you’re walking past the library or to the student center, it’s completely dark in that area. And just to get some more lighting and to make sure that everyone feels safe on campus.”

3) Connecting the campus community

Dani Merlo

“I believe that community is it really important aspect of like college culture. So I want to just bridge the gap, whether that be between athletics, RSOs and departments on campus to make sure that Greyhounds are more aware and inclusive of others and respective of backgrounds and things like that. So just making campus a really like networked place where everyone knows everyone.”

What makes you stand out as a candidate?

“I think the thing that makes me stand out the most is that I’m very driven. In my last term of office, all three of the learning outcomes have been touched upon, especially extending the Greyhound Express hours. I was really a key player in that. So I like to get things done. I’m very proactive.”

What do you consider to be the role of ISG at UIndy?

“I think the role of ISG at UIndy is kind behind-the-scenes. We’re really here to make things better for students and maybe not all the time, that’s not visible all the time, like what we’re actually doing. But we are doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes type of things to make like more water fountains and more practical things for students and just meeting their basic needs.”

Click here to read more about the campaign process. 

Photos by Ki Tally

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