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2021 Student Body President elections: Who’s running and what are their platforms?

Three slates are running to be Miami University’s next Student Body President (SBP) and Vice President (VP). The Miami Student recently interviewed the candidates from all three tickets about their platforms and hopes for the future of the university. The election will take place March 15-17 on the Hub.

Madelyn Jett (SBP) and Aidan McKeon (VP)

Last December, Aidan McKeon approached Madelyn Jett, his best friend since they were 8 years old, and asked if she’d consider running for Student Body President.

It took some convincing, but Jett eventually agreed, under one condition – McKeon would be her Vice President.

“When I was trying to convince her to run, I really had no intention of being her Vice President,” McKeon said.

Jett said her long friendship with McKeon and the extent to which they’d worked together made him her ideal running mate.

“I knew that there was no one else I would want to do this with other than Aidan,” Jett said. “I trust him more than anyone I know.”

Jett is a junior majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship who currently serves as a Farmer School of Business academic senator in ASG. She is also a member of the sorority Chi Omega, a member of the business fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon and the workshop chair for Stage Left, among other campus involvements.

McKeon is a junior majoring in history and arts management and currently serving as an off-campus senator in ASG. He is also the music director for Soul2Soul A Cappella, a member of Pi Sigma Epsilon and co-founder, along with Jett, of the Miami University Student Arts Advocacy Coalition.

Jett and McKeon are running on three pillars: administrative accountability, diversity, equity and inclusion, and student wellness. 

Under administrative accountability, the pair plans to push for free red parking passes for student workers and RAs, dining swipe usage along with declining balance at a la carte locations such as Pulley Diner and the Emporium, and plastic bag recycling receptacles in residence halls.

Policies under diversity, equity and inclusion include diversity training for all Undergraduate Associates (UAs), appointing a Director of Transgender Equity and Inclusion, increasing visibility for Black Greek Life at Miami and creating an ad hoc committee to respond to last summer’s Dear Miami Instagram account.

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Student wellness initiatives include creating programs to enhance a sense of belonging among first-years, expanding the mental health policies sororities have developed to the rest of campus and facilitating more in-person student organization meetings.

Jett and McKeon’s campaign has been endorsed by Brandon Small, ASG’s secretary for diversity & inclusion.

More information on Jett and McKeon’s platform can be found on their campaign website.

Trey Petrella (SBP) and Ruku Pal (VP)

During their time at Miami, Trey Petrella and Ruku Pal have approached ASG from different perspectives. While Petrella has been actively involved since his freshman year, Pal was elected to ASG for the first time last fall. 

Petrella's enthusiasm for ASG has been relentless — he ran five separate times before winning the District 1 Senate seat as a first-year. Since then, he has served as the Farmer School of Business Senator and the Secretary for On-Campus Affairs. 

Pal's election was unexpected — when the role of Secretary for Academic Affairs was empty, many of her friends encouraged her to run after she worked with the University Honors Program to extend spring credit/no credit to honors courses. 

Through their differences, the two have built their campaign around connecting different perspectives within the Miami community. 

"It's Aristotle's theory," Petrella said. "Our sum is greater than our individual parts. We can't do it alone, we really can't, and that is exemplified in every work we've done." 

Petrella is a junior majoring in human capital management & leadership and Italian studies. Along with ASG, he is also involved in multiple university councils, including the University Vaccination Committee. 

Pal is first-generation American and a junior majoring in business economics and entrepreneurship. Outside of ASG, she is also involved with multiple campus committees, including the Safe Return to Campus Committee. 

Petrella and Pal's platform is based on a set of "4 E's": Empathy, Elevate, Establish and Execute. Through this, they hope to give voices and platforms to diverse groups of Miami students and encourage conversations between them. 

With these four E's, they are running under three pillars: diversity, equity and inclusion, Access for All and Bridging the Gap. 

One of their initiatives, the "Find a Middle Ground" series, is meant to "create conversations between people diverse not only in gender identity, sexuality, race, ethnicity or religion but also [diverse in] ideology, beliefs and values to understand different stories and perspectives," Pal said.

In office, their initiatives include the reinstatement of ASG's Judicial Branch, reviewing the university’s attendance policy for student health and wellness to accommodate students with disabilities, and working to make the campus more sustainable. 

They also plan to appoint a Secretary for Student Organizations to connect different student groups with ASG and give them a direct line of communication. 

More information can be found on Petrella and Pal's campaign website. 

Vada Stephens (SBP) and Lena Giang (VP)

Vada Stephens and Lena Giang have a few things in common: They’re both RAs, they’ve both sat on ASG’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee and they’ve both had their fair share of rough patches during their time at Miami.

Stephens said being a Black student at Miami is difficult at times, largely due to the stereotypes and stigmas he faces at the predominantly white institution.

“For me, this journey called being a student at Miami University has been no easy one at all,” Stephens said. “Having to come to a place where there may be a lack of representation, or others may not share in your cultural heritage or your community, can pose a number of challenges.”

Giang, who is an international student from Hanoi, Vietnam, said she has had a great support system since coming to Miami, but that many other international students don’t get as lucky.

“I see that a lot of friends of mine who are also international students did not have access to the same resources as I did,” Giang said, “so that is my first motivation to run for this position.”

Stephens is a junior majoring in professional writing and vocal performance who currently serves as a College of Creative Arts academic senator in ASG. He also has many other campus involvements, including being the public relations chairman for the National Black Student Law Association and the director of the Miami University Gospel Singers.

Giang is a sophomore majoring in business economics and psychology who serves as a College of Arts and Science academic senator in ASG. She is also the co-director of ambassadors for the Diversity Affairs Council, among other involvements.

Stephens and Giang’s initiatives fall under three main categories: diversity, equity and inclusion, student health and wellness, and community engagement.

One major initiative the pair wants to work on is eliminating hate speech on Miami’s campus. They plan to do this by creating a “zero tolerance” policy, increasing accountability for anti-discrimination policies, and including anti-discrimination and student wellness information in class syllabi.

Stephens and Giang also hope to expand and improve mental health resources on campus. This includes extending Telehealth counseling services to students not living in Ohio and training staff on campus in trauma-informed care.

Stephens and Giang’s campaign has been endorsed by the Diversity Affairs Council and the Middle Eastern Student Association.

More information on Stephens and Giang’s platform can be found on their campaign website.