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Three candidates toss their hats in the presidential ring

After a deadline extension, three tickets are now in the race for Student Body President (SBP) and Vice President (VP). Elections will be held March 17-18 on the Hub. 

Cameron Hunter (SBP) and Keresa Murray (VP)

Cameron Hunter and Keresa Murray met this past summer while working as Student Orientation Undergraduate Leaders (SOULs). During their SOUL training, they realized there were many more resources available to Miami students than they had previously thought, so they set to work together on a packet that could be distributed to all students during orientation.

They eventually came to the conclusion that a packet for each student wouldn’t be the most efficient way to connect students with the services available to them, but the idea stayed with the two until Monday, when they decided to run together.

“Keresa, [an RA in Presidents Hall], brought up that she tells all her residents about SafeRide,” Hunter said. “But I've noticed that it's something that is really underutilized, so something that we've talked about a lot is putting resources [together] in a way that is a lot more effective and easy to access.”

To that end, Hunter, a sophomore accounting major, and Murray, a junior education studies major, hope to rework the MyMiami webpage to better display information students need. 

Beyond resource availability for students, Hunter and Murray’s platform has two other main facets: diversity and inclusion and student wellness. 

Both Hunter and Murray are friends with current Student Body President Jaylen Perkins and Vice President Dante Rossi. They met with Perkins and Rossi on Monday morning, after deciding to run, to discuss how to further the work Perkins and Rossi did for diversity and inclusion, like the Freedom Summer initiative.

Hunter and Murray hope to expand the diversity training now required to first-year students to all student leaders and faculty. 

Under the student wellness umbrella, they hope to work with Hillel and other student organizations to implement more options for students with dietary restrictions. They also want to continue work on ASG initiatives like satellite counseling and in-stall receptacles for menstrual hygiene products.

Though neither candidate has experience in ASG, Hunter said he feels they bring an important outside perspective and valuable experience from their time as SOULs.

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“Being able to be a part of students’ journey from the start and into their first year – which is a really important part of students’ development in college – has really been an honor,” Hunter said. “And I think this would be the next step for allowing us to continue to improve students' lives.”

Jannie Kamara (SBP) and Jessica von Zastrow (VP)

Jannie Kamara and Jessica von Zastrow decided to run for SBP and VP over plates of food at Buffalo Wild Wings two-and-a-half weeks ago. The idea of running was far from new to them, however. 

From the first day in their shared political science class freshman year, Kamara and von Zastrow have shared both a love for Miami and a friendship. This friendship deepened while on a Government Relations Network (GRN) trip freshman year, when they advocated for Miami in both Washington D.C. and Columbus. 

Last year, while they were hallmates, von Zastrow encouraged Kamara to run for student body president, pledging her support. Kamara, who had been planning to run since her freshman year, kept her friend’s advice in mind. Now, as juniors, they agreed to make it a joint endeavor. 

Both Kamara, a black world studies and diversity and leadership double major, and von Zastrow, a business economics and political science double major, have a passion for improving the school they love. Specifically, they want to increase the sense of community on campus. They both plan to do this through implementing programs that have been successful at other universities.  

Kamara, a former ASG member and current president of the diversity affairs council, has looked at other institutions to find policies that Miami could put in place. One of these initiatives is a program to accept community service as payment for parking tickets. Additionally, Kamara wants to increase connectedness and inclusion on campus. 

“I want to create belonging and connectivity but also educate students on what’s available on campus,” Kamara said.

Von Zastrow, a campus tour guide and founder of Miami’s Women in Social Entrepreneurship (WISE), is currently enrolled in a Building a Better Community course that focuses on improving the campus community. As part of this program, she is analyzing initiatives on other campuses and looking at the feasibility of applying them at Miami. 

She is particularly interested in UCLA’s preventative mental health screening test, which identifies at-risk students for mental health problems and pairs them with counseling services before their first day on campus. 

“For me it’s not just why I chose to come here but why I choose to stay here,” von Zastrow said. “I want to make sure that this community is an open place that everyone feels welcomed into. Having the ability to do that by being vice president of the student body would be a really great honor.”

Jacob Kramer (SBP) and Nadia Elayan (VP)

Juniors Jacob Kramer and Nadia Elayan have no background in ASG and hadn’t considered running for SBP and VP until they received the email on Friday about the deadline extension. 

As two mechanical engineering majors, though, they noticed a lack of representation in ASG from the College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) and hope to bring a new perspective to student government. 

“As a STEM voice, we like solutions, we like being pragmatic and problem solving, we want to see results at Miami and try to employ solutions that provide those,” Kramer said. 

If elected, they would like to increase recruitment of potential STEM majors and to expand Miami from being thought of as a business school. Kramer said they would accomplish this by working with the Office of Admissions to plan more visit days focused on students considering STEM majors. 

While they do hope to increase CEC representation in ASG and at Miami as a whole, the slate emphasizes that they represent the entire student body. 

“I think we both represent Miami not just as engineering students,” Elayan said. “I play rugby for Miami, and I’m Middle Eastern, and I’m Muslim, and that is a very, very small minority in this school.”

One of their major platform points is decreasing the fees for on-campus parking tickets. Kramer called the $75 ticket an “extreme draconian punishment,” advocating for a tiered fee system instead. 

He said their strategy for convincing the university to do this would be showing they have student support. 

“I hope they would hear if this is the will of the students, they would be willing to abide by this,” Kramer said. 

Kramer and Elayan are also advocating for eliminating the salary paid to executive cabinet members and implementing follow-up emails to the sexual assault bulletins from the Miami University Police Department. 

Elayan said it could scare students away from reporting not knowing how or if the cases are resolved. She said these emails wouldn’t need to include names or specific details but would just let students know something is being done. 

In general, they hope to get someone appointed as a student trustee on the Board of Trustees (BoT) that shares their views because they recognize that the BoT makes the financial decisions for the university. 

Kramer and Elayan think they stand out because they come from a part of campus that doesn’t typically run for senate and because they have no past experience in ASG. 

“I think we can provide unique perspectives to certain issues facing campus,” Kramer said, “that you’re not going to get if you’re just pulling from the same groups of students.”