Each year, students at the University of Indianapolis elect their student body representatives for the following year. This includes the executive board, consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. For the 2019-2020 academic year positions, elections are held from March 4-7 available on MyUIndy, with the winners announced March 8.
There are also four student representatives for each class: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior and graduate students. This year, applications, campaigning and elections for class representatives and any unfilled executive positions will begin after spring break, according to Assistant Director of Student Activities Steven Freck.
There are four candidates running for executive board positions for next year. Three of the candidates are running for president, which includes junior theatre major Brayton Lipperd, sophomore political science and international relations major Karlye Vonderwell and junior religion major and incumbent President Jamarcus Walker. Sophomore political science major and incumbent Vice-President Dani Merlo is running unopposed for vice-president.
“This is definitely, probably the most contested election we’ve had in several years,” Freck said. “I think over the past few years ISG has grown and been more active on campus, so students had been able to see the impact and changes that can happen from effective leadership. So, I think that’s what we’ll continue to see, hopefully, an increase in visibility from folks and interest in participating.”
Some of the initiatives that ISG has pursued this year, according to Merlo and Walker, has been increasing the amount of water fountains, extending the hours of the Greyhound Express, labeling food allergens and working with administrators to create the electric scooter policy. Freck said that ISG’s purpose is to serve as a 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 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.”
As a part of the application process, each candidate had to submit their campaign platform. They each have three various initiatives that they want to focus on. Lipperd plans to focus on mental health resources, diversity, equity and inclusion and student engagement. Vonderwell said her goal is to raise awareness of mental health and stability and focus on cultural diversity as well as donating campus’ leftover food. Walker said he plans to focus on student wellbeing, promote the Greyhound spirit and tradition and support registered student organizations. Merlo is directing her focus to healthier dining options, campus safety and connecting the campus community. Schuch said a good candidate is someone who has a passion for their platform.
“So they stand behind the words that they’re speaking and they have clear plans of action,” Schuch said. “If not, they’re able to demonstrate that action from past experiences. I think that makes a candidate stand out from other candidates.”
Candidates spent a couple of weeks leading up to election week campaigning and also held various meet and greets that allowed students to get to know them and their platforms. Schuch encouraged students to be critical thinkers and ask questions when evaluating their possible representatives.
“It’s a different level than national or local elections, obviously,” Freck said. “But I think the same kind of advice, making sure that you’re educating yourself about the issues and not just using social media and various outlets as your sole source of information about candidates, is critical. I think that’s a message at any level of electoral work [that] is important to get across to folks.”
Click here for a written question and answer session with the executive board candidates, where they discuss their platform, what makes them stand out and what they consider to be the role of ISG at UIndy.