launch

The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska elections are Wednesday, and both parties are scrambling to get their platforms and messages out to students before the big vote. The Launch party cleared up some remaining questions Monday, at a Q-and-A session hosted by the Daily Nebraskan.

The three executive members of Launch are Shannon Pestel, a junior turf grass and landscape major running for president; Jared McKeever, a junior animal science major running for external vice president; and Tommy Olson, a junior finance major running for internal vice president.

The party, if elected, hopes to oversee the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s takeover of management for the University Health Center, reduce the mental health stigma on campus, create an advisory board that works with UNL’s Police Department, promote sustainability, make student fees transparent for students and revive discussion about the accreditation process and the new innovation campus.

Launch will face off against Empower party, whose members include presidential nominee Thien Chau, a junior political science and environmental studies major, external vice president nominee Adamma Izu, a junior marketing major and internal vice president nominee Josh Waltjer.

The Launch party , whose representatives include members of the Committee for Fees Allocation, was first asked how it would use its knowledge of student fees if elected.

Olson said the party plans to take advantage of their knowledge that UNLis the only Big Ten Conference school where students can help control fees.

“We know this, and we know how to take advantage of this, so we’d really like to get student input, get student involvement, and make sure that they are utilizing these fees to the best the university is capable of.”

McKeever, the East Campus chair for the ASUN CFA committee, then talked about how the party would use its East Campus connections to benefit UNL. He said he hopes to encourage the two campuses to work together.

“As brought up on the Farm Bureau debate last week, it was mentioned that there is a growing divide between the two campuses,” McKeever said. “I think tying those two campuses back together will really help us benefit everybody as a whole, not just one specific campus individually.”

The Launch party has said before that it wants to oversee the health center transition, and Pestel clarified how the party would do so. She explained how students’ voices are important in creating new buildings on campus.

“I think that student opinion is heavily valued part of these processes,” Pestel said. “And I think that it would be very important that ASUN could have a hand since we have equal representation of colleges, that we could possibly provide students for this transition and let their voices be heard in what they think would be the best possible health center for students here at UNL.”

While Launch and Empower seem to have some similarities in their platforms, Launch said its party has more realistic goals.

“I think that we have a lot more tangible ideas about projects in mind that we want to accomplish instead of three kind of lofty ideas that really aren’t set in stone,” Pestel said.

McKeever also mentioned that Launch’s choice of members differed from Empower’s.

“When we formed our leadership team, we tried to find individuals not based on years of experience, but individuals who have wanted to accelerate ASUN, and so we tried getting several individuals that we thought would do a great job, and they’re really campaigning hard for us and everything else and I have no doubt in my mind that if they’re elected as well, they’ll do things to help benefit ASUN,” he said.

Olson later said “At the end of the night, everyone [in ASUN] is able to come together, and I think our party really represents that. We have a lot of different personalities on our team, and I believe that they will all work very well together on the senate floor.”

The party was asked to answer a question it wants students to know hasn’t been asked yet.

Olson said Launch members want voters to know why they decided to run.

“I never do anything solely as a resume builder. That’s not how I see this position, I see this as a way to help people,” Olson said.

Pestel said she’s running because ASUN is an important entity to her personally. “It’s something I’ve been involved with for all of my three years here at the university, and hopefully the fourth here as well. I guess it’s an organization that’s given a lot to me, and I feel that it’s only fair that I give back to it as well,” Pestel said.

If elected, she would be the first female ASUN president in five years.

McKeever said he wants to run to represent not only East Campus students, but the university as a whole.

If elected, Pestel said Launch would make some major changes to ASUN.

“Two years ago, ASUN had the incident that did not go over well and never should have happened,” Pestel said, referring to a senator’s use of racial slurs on the senate floor. “After that it was said that we would put in place diversity and inclusion training for every year’s senate, and this failed to happen this year after so many talks about it last year. If elected, that is something that we definitely want to see implemented again, not only just for ASUN but for all recognized student organizations, since ASUN oversees that and determines if they’re in compliance or not. I think it would be a feasible thing for us to put in place.”

Olson added they would make ASUN more representative of the whole student body and allow students to see their representatives more. “I’d really like to see ASUN host a lot more events through the year and just have a greater presence on campus so students know who’s representing their college and how do they get their voices heard.”

Even with the changes proposed, Launch members said there were many positives to ASUN as it is.

“CFA and senate has done a really great job over the years of maintaining fees at a place where it’s affordable for students,” Pestel said. “College is expensive, and fees are necessary. We’re hoping to maintain our fees at a good place for students.”

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