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Get to know the SGA presidential candidates

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It's time for election season, and the Student Government Association presidential race is hotly contested. Get to know a little about the candidates and what they plan to do for OU.

Presidential candidate Julia Depew is a second year master’s student in human relations, while her running mate Matt Marks is a broadcast journalism sophomore. They want to give the students a voice and serve all people on campus.

The Daily: What is your history with student government or government in general?

Julia Depew: For me, I did student government when I was in high school. I was senior class president. I haven’t done anything at the college level, but now that I’m at OU, I felt a need to get involved and make a change in this campus, so I wanted to get involved by running for Student Government Association president.

Matt Marks: I’ve done student government-type leadership skills throughout high school for three years, and I’m currently the President of the Headington Hall Student Leadership Association. I’ve been doing student government in Headington Hall since I got here my freshman year.

The Daily: What are your reasons for running for President or Vice President?

Depew: We have an interesting story. I wanted to run for president, and he (Marks) wanted to run for Vice, but neither of us had a running mate. We were kind of put together by fate, and we both have the same reason and vision on running. We both want to see a change in the culture of the university. We want to create more connectedness and get with the different associations that are out there — interviewing them and talking with them, seeing where the common problems are and working from there. We want to be there for everyone.

Marks: We want to really be a voice and have people’s voices be heard. We feel very strongly that if people can bring us ideas and really share our concerns, we can move forward and really make SGA where people don’t think of it as an exclusive group.

The Daily: What would you like to accomplish and what issues would you like to address on campus?

Depew: Our motto is "Tell Us About It." We really don’t have certain agendas of our own that we want to push off onto anyone. We want to hear what other people want. This isn’t about our personal agendas; we’re here for the student body, so we want to hear what they want out of this university and what they feel they need to feel a part of this school.

Marks: Instead of doing something specifically that I want to do, let’s do a lot of things we can get done for a lot of people. That’s really the whole point of having us in these roles is that we want to serve everybody. Like Julia was saying, we can’t meet everyone’s needs, but we can make everyone feel like this is a community and everyone is listening to them. It echoes President Boren’s vision of a family oriented community.

Chemical engineering and pre-med senior Isaac Hill is running for President of Student Government Association with running mate Leah Clemenson, public affairs and administration junior, to promote development, empowerment and transparency.

The Daily: What is your history with student government or government in general?

Isaac Hill: I’ve been involved with Campus Activities Council and served as a vice chair in CAC Crew. I’ve been president of the Black Student Association and president of the College of Engineering Leadership Council, so I have a lot of leadership skills not directly to SGA but indirectly to SGA.

Leah Clemenson: With student government, I started out in Sooner Freshman Council my freshman year. My sophomore year, I was a co-chair of SFC and that kind of helped me enter the executive branch because as a co-chair, they wanted us to be aware of what was going on. So this year, I’m now on the executive branch helping with the One Campus, One Book Initiative. And with government in general, it’s kind of my major. I’m really interested in non-profits and governmental agencies, so I’m working with food and shelter right now. I have an interest in how the government interacts with non-profits. It’s a little different than student government, but it all goes back to outreach.

The Daily: Why are you running for SGA president?

Hill: We’re running on the campaign of changing for the better. We’re at a critical point in our university where there’s a lot of things moving and moving quicker. Things are being catalyzed and things are moving really fast, and we want to help guide that along to make sure we’re going in the right direction.

Clemenson: I started thinking about it at the beginning of the year. After talking to some of the people involved in SGA and gaining so much empowerment from SGA, I realized that I can lead and empower others. I decided that I could be a good representative of the university. I feel like I’m fairly approachable, and I like to reach out to different organizations on campus.  

The Daily: What would you like to accomplish on campus and what issues would you like to address?

Hill: I’m running on three main points and that is development, empowerment and transparency. I want to increase transparency because a lot of things happen in SGA, but a lot of people aren’t aware of this. People think SGA isn’t relevant to them. I think by increasing transparency, it will make SGA more relevant to the student body. So one avenue we’re thinking about taking is having a monthly letter sent out through avenues like The Daily and having money set aside to do something like that or having a stronger social media presence. We just want to try to make sure people are aware they can say stuff to us. With development, I want to do that to kind of help students who want to get involved, get involved. We have this consulting group that consults student organizations, and I want to increase that so that they can consult students who want to start a student organization who want to get involved. I want every student to feel like they can do something and help them get there. And also, empower. I want every community to believe its voice is being heard. I want to be aware of the community and check in on communities and increase that personal touch with SGA.  I want to increase the amount of people running for SGA positions and further our outreach.

Clemenson: Our slogan is “Reach Out,” and we’re looking at the different communities at OU. I think OU is so special because it’s a state university, yet by involving yourself, you can make it seem so much smaller. On the South Oval, you can see people you know, whether you know them well enough or not. I know that not every student at OU has this same experience. Camp Crimson might be great, but they get into their first semester, and they might not have the best utilities to get themselves involved. So we want to give SGA a more personal touch and make it more transparent because I think people see it as a bubble: once you get involved with it, you can’t be involved with anything else. Some people are asking me what SGA is, and they have such an impact on the university. I think people are starting to realize that with Indigenous Peoples’ Day Act. I think they saw how we impact students’ everyday lives.

Economics and political science junior Daniel Pae is running as one of the three presidential candidates this election season alongside his running mate, economics and letters junior Michael Lutter, to promote communication, student concerns and inclusivity.

The Daily: What is your history with student government or government in general?

Daniel Pae: I’ve been mostly in the legislative branch, specifically right now as the Human Diversity Committee chair. We’ve been working with United World College and international students. We helped with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Prior to this, I was the Academic Affairs Committee chair, and we worked to advocate for getting a Korean language class here at OU as well as working with Dr. Joyce Allman, the associate provost for academic advising on improving the academic advising system by standardizing the advising process as well as getting an advising evaluation set up. I’m very proud of the progress we made on it during that time. SGA and Congress in general have been my home away from home. The people are just wonderful, and it’s nice to see so many people passionate about serving their fellow OU students.

Michael Lutter: I started freshman year with Sooner Freshman Council. I got involved in the executive branch, so sophomore year, second semester, I became the director of development on the executive branch. We’ve been working with freshman students and letting them get a sample of what SGA has to offer here on campus. We’ve been working on a bike sharing program as well as trying to get legal council available for the law school here at OU and probono legal council from current law students. Most schools in the Big 12 have that service, so we’re trying to implement that. I’m currently planning a watch party for the OU vs. Baylor game that we’re co-programming with UPB. We’ll be raffling off a Bob Stoops signed football during halftime.

The Daily: Reasons for running for President or Vice President?

Pae: The first point we want make to make is both Michael and I are extremely passionate about student government. A lot of the students are rather cynical about it’s contributions, and we want to challenge that status quo. We don’t want to blame other people or engage in partisan politics because we think people are tired of blame and politics. They want to hear about concrete ideas and meaningful solutions to help them. With that in mind, we’ve developed a comprehensive platform that takes into mind all of the concerns we’ve heard from students, and we think our message is going to resonate with the student body. When we decided to run together, we decided to run an issues-oriented, student-driven campaign. We want to share our positive, hopeful vision for SGA. We believe the best is yet to come. If we have the ability to serve, we’re going to do our absolute best to allow OU to be more successful and prosperous.

Lutter: We do have a positive image for this university, and we think that it will resonate with the student body.

The Daily: What would you like to accomplish on campus and what issues would you like to address?

Pae: The one issue we can address is the concern of communication. Regardless of all the other issues, if you don’t engage with the student body, then there’s no point really. So we want to work with The Daily and OU Nightly and working on social media more. We want to hold more town hall meetings with coordination with student organizations, specifically multicultural groups. We’re envisioning having a multicultural night with all the different multicultural groups so that way people know about the diversity among the student body. We will have a Union Update where we will set up a table in the Union, and we will just be there to answer people’s questions and literally take them to the Conoco Student Leadership Center, which is close to the Union. The second issue we want to accomplish is Dead Week. It’s actually not a “dead” week. There’s a lot of stuff to do, and the students feel overwhelmed. We think there’s potential in looking at what other university’s do in regards to dead week. I’ve already looked into these problems as the Academic Affairs Committee chair. There needs to be a dialogue between the faculty, administration and students because it’s too controversial, too difficult to address. We want to work on inclusivity. We want to have a cabinet representative of all the people on campus, representing all the organizations.

Lutter: We will be sending representatives to the Big 12 Student Government Conference at the University of Texas in the first week in November. Our hope is that they can tell us what other universities are doing that we might want to take a look at. Other than that, we pretty much have our platform set.

Elections will be held on Nov. 10 and 11 through an online forum on OrgSync.

Brianna Sims is a journalism freshman and news reporter at the Daily.

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