RECAP: The State Press hosts USGW election Q&A

The election will take place March 27 and March 28

The State Press hosted Undergraduate Student Government West executive ticket candidates for a Q&A session on Friday, during which presidential hopefuls focused on increasing awareness of student services, increasing availability of those services and restructuring the way clubs organize events on campus. 

On the first ticket, LeiLani Viscaina, a sophomore global management major, is running for USGW president. Noah Hawks, a freshman also in global management, is running for vice president of services. Jake Ormond, a junior business major, is running for vice president of policy.

On the second ticket, Alexander Haw, a sophomore political science major, is running for president. Melany Hernandez, a freshman global management major, is running for vice president of services, while James Benado Smasch, a sophomore political science and public policy major, is running for vice president of policy.

Editor’s note: some answers and questions have been shortened or omitted for clarity and length. View each ticket Q&A in their entirety in the embedded videos.

What makes your ticket unique?

Viscaina: Our ticket does have the experience. But also, with the uniqueness is the way how all of us basically have our own personalities — with our campaign motto which is basically, ‘culture, impact and spirit.’ Each one of us basically has our own unique aspects and passions with that, so mine being 'culture,' Jake here being ‘impact’ and Noah here being ‘spirit.’



Ormond: Additionally, just our combination and background of experience. I know we have all of that USG experience, but I’m a project manager at Estrella Mountain Community College so I have a lot of background with student programming, Leilani has experience as an educator, and Noah has a lot of experience in student organizations.

Haw: I think what makes our ticket unique are the people that are running it. For myself, I’m African American and for Melany who comes from a Latino background. I think we represent a lot of cultures and ideologies that we normally don’t see in an office of high power.

Hernandez: We are focused on students. We want you guys to get the best out of us and the fact that our ticket is so diverse, we have a lot of backgrounds and things to offer, I think that’s what makes our ticket so special.

What campus and student life issues need to be addressed?

Ormond: I would like to focus on developing events with impact. We saw what was successful with a few events last semester was building them on top of each other so it’s more like one giant event rather than all these little ones spread out throughout the campus. Additionally, sexual health awareness and looking at Title IX concerns and reporting. There’s a disconnect between what’s actually reported and what actually happens. My other focus is emergency preparedness. We continue to see school shootings go on all around the country. We know that ASU police has a plan, but trying to communicate that to students in a way that they’ll learn it and remember it if they should ever need to use it.

Haw: The main thing that affects a lot of the ASU West student body is that the number of attendees that we expect was there. Sometimes when you expect a high turnout, that’s not always the case. So with our campaign, we’re focusing on a central club social application. A lot of clubs and students that use OrgSync don’t like using the system. I don’t think that should be enforced if students don’t like using it. So, we suggest using some sort of social media application that students want to use to increase student turnout and engagement.


What role do you see your ticket having outreach to the state and federal government? What issue should students care about?

Ormond: Communicating directly with the legislative offices and trying to outreach more than Capitol Day … and having an event out here where it’s kind of low stress. I did an event similar to this called, ‘Desserts with the Faculty,’ so, it could be called, ‘Desserts with the Legislators,’ … it’s more like musical chairs where they go around and talk to different individuals on different legislation. So making sure that student voice is being heard and that they are having that direct line of communication to our policymakers here in Arizona. It’s all about having those key relationships with lawmakers established already so you can hit the ground running.

Hernandez: Just a couple of weeks ago we had a political awareness event going on on campus, we brought a senator from Arizona. They were here, they spoke to the students, they talked about their experience and how we can get involved. They even offered the opportunity for us to follow them and be a part of their daily activities. I think that’s going to be the main thing to do, is to strengthen the students’ awareness on political issues that are taking place in Arizona that specifically affect students at ASU West.



What is one issue that students misunderstand or are unaware of?

Viscaina: One of the largest issues is emergency preparedness. A lot of the time, students are very much unaware. For example, the last fire drill, some students basically didn’t know where to go. Another example, R.A.D., which is the rape, assault and defense classes, no students signed up for that even though they have been requesting to have more procedures and classes on sexual assault and how to protect themselves on campus.

Hernandez: Students are not even aware that the Undergraduate Student Government Office exists. They don’t know that they can approach them. They don’t know that students are supposed to approach them. The fact that we have been those students who don’t know who to reach for problems, we want to strengthen that relationship between USG and students because we’re here for them. We’re supposed to work for them.


Reach the reporter at Anicla@asu.edu or follow @AndrewNicla on Twitter. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter. 


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.