OUSC vice president candidate debates focus on representation and communication

Taylor Crumley, Staff Reporter

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The Oakland University Student Congress hosted the debate between the candidates for vice president of OUSC in the Habitat on Tuesday, March 12.

The three candidates for vice president — Owen Bennett, Julia Alexander and Joe Wentzel — answered questions regarding OU and the goals they plan to accomplish if chosen as the next vice president.

Jeremy Heinlein, the coordinator of leadership and service programs at the Office for Student Involvement, was the moderator of the debate and presented the first question to the candidates, asking them what experiences they have had at OU that made them want to run for the position of vice president.

“Living on campus is the first time I felt like Oakland University was a home, and I wanted all students to have that experience,” Alexander said, “Meeting so many student leaders and see the issues they are struggling with, I want to be the voice for those students.”

Alexander highlighted her roles in OUSC and as a peer mentor for the Center for Multicultural Initiatives as experiences that have helped strengthen her relationship with students.

The candidates agreed that the most difficult part of being vice president would be making sure they are catering to all groups and demographics of students and listening to their individual needs and feedback.

“OUSC should be as close as possible to a one-to-one representation of the various desires, needs and groups within OU,” Bennett said.

Bennett’s involvement with the Student Program Board allowed him to branch out of his comfort zone. As an economics major, he said he never imagined himself doing event planning, but believes this experience has made him more thoughtful, empathetic and an overall better person.

“Student Congress should be the middleman between students and administration,” Joe Wentzel said. “We want to be as transparent as possible with the students and have them take part in what we are getting done for this university.”

Wentzel described his job at Career Services as something that allows him to get in touch with students of all majors and allowing him to see what their goals are. He is also in the pep band, which plays at basketball games and gives him the opportunity to come together with other students.

When the topic of student life was brought up, the candidates agreed there is a lot of work to be done with improving diversity and involvement in clubs and organizations on campus. The candidates also mentioned the importance of putting more emphasis on improving the campus life of international students.

Wentzel’s goal for OUSC is to be engaging with students, whether it’s on social media or face-to-face. Bennett also stressed his desire to have better communication between OUSC and the rest of the student body in regard to keeping students updated on the initiatives in progress.

“If you tell students about the progress being made, it creates more faith in their representatives,” Bennett said.

Alexander had similar goals, explaining that she wants to make OUSC have a more welcoming and approachable atmosphere for students of all majors and backgrounds.

Bennett, Alexander and Wentzel will be running alongside respective presidential candidates Mackenzie Hill, Destinee Rule and Joshua Robinson, who spoke at the OUSC presidential candidate debates on Wednesday, March 13. Voting for the OUSC elections will be open from March 20 through March 27.