ASUN Q&A: Grace Orwen

For the first time in four years, this year’s Association of Students of the University of Nebraska election will be contested.

Two parties, Envision and Progress, are running for spots on the executive team and senate seats. There are 33 University of Nebraska-Lincoln students running with Envision, six with Progress, one write-in candidate and two running independently. While currently the president and internal vice president are voted upon in tandem, this year’s ballot will include a vote to make it so the external vice president is also included in the joint vote. ASUN attempted to pass the same change in last year’s election, but the vote did not pass.

Students can vote via MyRed starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 10, and the voting period will end at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11.

The Daily Nebraskan asked the candidates for the executive team about why students should elect them. 

President

Name: Roni Miller

Grade for 2020-21 Academic Year: Senior

Major(s): Political science and Spanish

Party: Envision

Year(s) in ASUN: Three years 

Reason for Running: “I believe in the ability and aspirations of each student. I’m running to foster their chance of success and improve what life looks like for current Huskers and all of those Huskers to come through [via our platforms:] improved mental health resources, dependable infrastructure, inclusive excellence and highlighted transparency.”

What Makes Them Qualified: “I have been working on numerous projects, especially those regarding alcohol and drug use, sexual misconduct and mental health. I am currently a part of the JED Alcohol and Other Drug Council where I am working on alcohol focus groups to better understand UNL's party culture as well as the [Campuswide Collaborative on Sexual Misconduct] where I co-chair the student subcommittee center on policy, practice and procedures. I was a part of the team that won [a Women Investing in Nebraska] grant this past summer to expand funding for the pilot in-residence counseling program as well as coordinating ASUN-sponsored REACH trainings this past term. I have served on multiple search committees, notably for the new assistant director of fraternity and sorority life and the original full-time victim advocate. I am committed to selfless service by having been involved with ASUN since the beginning of my college experience [and] having been committed to enhancing the student experience from the start. My experience in ASUN has granted me the opportunity to familiarize myself with the intricacies of campus leadership, build relationships and enact real change.”

Name: Will Beck

Grade for 2020-21 Academic Year: Junior

Major(s): Political science

Party: Progress

Year(s) in ASUN: None

Reason for Running: “I decided to run for president because I was tired of only seeing one option on the ballot. I was tired of not hearing about major funding proposals and events put on by ASUN. I am running for transparency and better representation for the students.”

What Makes Them Qualified: “I have been elected president of The Flying Huskers Booster Club and Turning Point USA at UNL, as well as having served two terms in the Residence Hall Association. I have both the representation experience and the leadership experience needed to be president while still being an ASUN outsider.”

Internal Vice President

Name: Drew Harrahill

Grade for 2020-21 Academic Year: Senior

Major(s): Biochemistry

Party: Envision

Year(s) in ASUN: Three

Reason for Running: “ASUN has been the most important thing I have done in college, and I am excited to give back in a larger way than I have before. This year, I am working on projects to fight food insecurity with the Husker Pantry, improve price transparency of textbooks during registration and push for larger conversations about divestment of the [University of Nebraska] Foundation [from fossil fuels]. These projects are near and dear to my passions and the lives of current and future students. Working toward large scale, sustainable reform energizes me to tackle larger and more pressing goals. At the end of the day, I want to look back at my time at UNL and say, with certainty, that I made campus a better place, and I think ASUN is the best avenue for me to do that.”

What Makes Them Qualified: “Of any person running from either party, I have the most experience working with ASUN at an executive level. I am the speaker of the senate, so all legislation flows through me. I have been part of the conversation regarding every bill this senate has seen since last April. On a different note, I am a future oriented person, so my conception of change is rooted in long-term solutions that fix systemic issues at UNL. That is reflected in my efforts this year to find an annual donation from Dining Services to the Husker Pantry that will provide over 6,000+ meals to students for years to come, to change the registration page on MyRed to include information about textbook pricing and create a long-term plan for the NU Foundation to divest from fossil fuels that will positively affect our portfolio and environment for generations. The role of any executive member in ASUN should be to create lasting, impactful change for the benefit of the student body. I am confident that I can pull from my multiple experiences managing organizations at the executive level, my passion to create a better campus and my natural aptitude of looking toward the future to create the change that students need.”

Name: Oscar Canizales

Grade for 2020-21 Academic Year: Sophomore

Major(s): Pre-criminology and criminal justice

Party: Progress

Year(s) in ASUN: None

Reason for Running: “There weren’t enough options for students to choose from. I want to be a voice for the students.”

What Makes Them Qualified: “I was involved in student council in elementary and junior high school. I was involved in Future Business Leaders of America in high school and was the president of the chapter my senior year. I am currently a shift manager at Raising Cane’s. I was involved in athletics while in high school. I only mention that because if I learned anything in athletics, it was to be a leader. Lastly, I am currently the Smith Hall president, the speaker of the senate for the Residence Hall Association and I also chair [the Recreation, Engagement and Community] committee for that organization. I was recognized at a regional conference for the Residence Hall Association.”

External Vice President

Name: Saisha Adhikari

Grade for 2020-21 Academic Year: Senior

Major(s): Biology and psychology 

Party: Envision

Year(s) in ASUN: Three

Reason for Running: “I decided to run for external vice president due to my passion to aid the continuation of successes and build upon numerous promising projects that have been in the works. I have been passionate about student government since my freshman year and am ecstatic to see how ASUN can make the greatest impact on the student body and truly represent all areas across campus. My drive for running only increased after coming together with my executive team: Roni and Drew. The three of us carry the determination needed to work toward a better campus for all students, and I am confident in our abilities to do so.”

What Makes Them Qualified: “I believe I am qualified for this position due to my experience and visions for the student body. Being involved in student government since my freshman year, I am committed to serving the needs of all students in order to enrich their experience at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Obtaining the positions as the current senator for the College of Arts and Sciences as well as co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee has allowed me to work together with various student leaders in order to achieve inclusive excellence on campus. Through these roles, I have formed connections and communicated project ideas with not only leaders from RSOs, but administrators like the vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. I hold leadership positions across campus, such as the University Health Center Student Advisory Board or College of Arts and Sciences recruitment, which helps me be able to serve as a liaison between those organizations and student government.”

Name: Justin Ho

Grade for 2020-21 Academic Year: Sophomore

Major(s): Economics and Computer Science

Party: Write-in

Year(s) in ASUN: None

Reason for Running: “The student government plays an important role in students' affairs. Unfortunately, the situation we are in right now is an entrenched single party rule. The current state of ASUN is one of irrelevance. I believe that change is necessary to reinvigorate the student government, to make it more accountable to the students and ensure that all of its decisions have the mandate of the student body at large.”

What Makes Them Qualified: “My experience in helping entrepreneurs and being involved in student government (of my previous college) provided me with insights that would allow me to bring new perspectives to the student government. This makes me qualified for this position.”

Editor’s Note: Justin Ho affiliated himself with the Progress student election group.

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