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Meet the 2023 candidates for Student Body President and Vice President

Miami University students have two choices to vote for in the Student Body President and Vice President elections next week: Cameron Tiefenthaler and Grace Payne (left) or Nyah Smith and Jules Jefferson (right).
Miami University students have two choices to vote for in the Student Body President and Vice President elections next week: Cameron Tiefenthaler and Grace Payne (left) or Nyah Smith and Jules Jefferson (right).

On Feb. 17, two candidate pairs announced their campaigns to be Miami University’s next Student Body President (SBP) and Vice President (VP). Students will vote to be represented by Cameron Tiefenthaler and Grace Payne or Nyah Smith and Jules Jefferson.

On Wednesday, March 8, ASG will hold a debate for the candidate pairs at 7 p.m. in the Armstrong Pavilion. Voting will take place on The Hub from March 13 at 7 a.m. to March 15 at 7 p.m.

Nyah Smith (SBP) and Jules Jefferson (VP)

Smith, a social work and public health double major, said she met Jefferson, a biochemistry and nutrition double major with co-majors in environmental science and pre-medical studies, through their involvement with Love You Like a Sister (LYLAS), a student organization dedicated to empowering women of color.

“We’re involved in various things on campus and have been able to support each other in that,” Smith said. “With each other’s different leadership experiences, we feel as if we’d be best suited for office because we bring diverse leadership.”

Smith and Jefferson’s platform is based on three pillars: sustainability and infrastructure, unity and student empowerment.

Under sustainability and infrastructure, Smith and Jefferson plan to work on alternatives to paying for parking tickets, give funding to student organizations holding environmentally friendly events and get student organizations involved in composting.

Smith said the alternative to paying for parking tickets on campus would be to complete community service. 

“We’re looking at a system where, from the day you get your parking ticket, you then have six weeks to complete four hours of service rather than paying for your parking ticket,” Smith said. “[This is] to alleviate some of those financial burdens as well as continue to cultivate service on campus.”

To help fund student organizations holding environmentally-friendly events, Jefferson said they have been talking to different organizations about what kind of events they could host.

“The main thing is making sure that student orgs realize they do have a chance to be more sustainable,” Jefferson said. “And the nice thing about this is if you do [hold an environmentally-friendly event] you will get a $150 extra funding incentive.”

The funding incentive would come from ASG.

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Under unity, the pair wants to introduce a campus-wide service project day and to increase students’ knowledge of ASG.

Smith said many other universities have campus-wide service days. 

“We really feel as if service and working together can promote and cultivate a community of inclusivity,” Smith said. “We would meet at Millett… [and] have a speaker relating to the idea of inclusivity and working with people who are unlike yourself, and then we would go out to our various service locations.”

These locations would include organizations in Oxford as well as places on campus.

To increase students’ knowledge of ASG, Jefferson said they want to host an open forum at the beginning of each semester for the student body to meet members of ASG.

“All the secretaries will give a slide on what their goals are for that semester,” Jefferson said. “Then after all the secretaries present their goals, that’s the time for students to [give feedback.]”

Under the pair’s student empowerment pillar, they want to provide free career clothing for students and introduce semesterly mental health screenings open to all students.

To provide free career clothing for students, Smith said they are working with the Office of Alumni Relations to create a closet.

“I know that the career center has various resources, however we’re looking to try to get longevity to that and to create better access because things just come up all the time,” Smith said.

The pair has also been having conversations with the Division of Student Life and Student Counseling Services about having all counselors come to Armstrong for a day so students can get screened each semester.

Smith said they want to have these screenings because there aren’t enough counselors for the whole student body.

“We’re really just looking at, what ways can we get and provide early identification signs as well as just equitability for students who may need mental health concerns addressed,” Smith said.

Smith and Jefferson’s campaign slogan is “#BuildingtheTable”

Smith said the idea behind this slogan is making sure all students have their voices heard and the ability to work together.

“Building the table comes from looking at a collaborative Miami as well as just allowing students to feel like they have a seat at the table because there are barriers for many students from having access to getting opportunities to being in certain spaces,” Smith said. “However, we really want to alleviate those barriers and allow for everyone to have a seat at the table and to have their voices amplified.”

Additional information on Smith and Jefferson’s campaign can be found on their Instagram or website

Cameron Tiefenthaler (SBP) and Grace Payne (VP)

Tiefenthaler, a political science and business analytics double major on the pre-law track, and Payne, a speech pathology and audiology and gerontology double major, met while serving as senators of Associated Student Government (ASG). 

Payne said Tiefenthaler approached her about running together back in November.

“We were both like it’s either us two together or nothing,” Payne said. “That’s how it has to be, because it just worked so well immediately off the bat.” 

Tiefenthaler added they are passionate about the same causes and their personalities click. 

“We both have the same dedication to making things better [and] the same enthusiasm,” Tiefenthaler said. 

Tiefenthaler and Payne’s campaign is based on three pillars: career preparation and development, improving the student experience and campus sustainability. 

Under the pair’s career preparation and development pillar, they want to promote civic engagement and community service, and provide funding for students taking graduate school entrance exams.

For promoting civic engagement and engaging in service, Tiefenthaler said the pair wants to provide students with resources on where and how to vote and how to get involved with the community, beginning in the orientation process and continuing on throughout students’ time at Miami. 

“I think this is a really important life skill that students can really refine and figure out like, ‘oh yeah, I should be involved in service, and I should vote because my voice matters,’” Tiefenthaler said. “So instilling that from day one of orientation I think is really important.” 

For providing funding for students taking graduate school entrance exams, Tiefenthaler said they want to work with Miami’s Career for Exploration and Success to supply financial resources for students.

“Up to 24% of Miami students across all divisions go to grad school,” Tiefenthaler said. “So there are a lot of us taking these entrance exams. So if we could just do anything to help alleviate some pressure there, that’d be great.”

To improve the student experience, they want to introduce a more flexible attendance policy and create an accessible campus map.

The idea behind the more flexible attendance policy is to improve students’ mental health. Tiefenthaler said they want to help create a healthy learning environment for students.

“[I understand] the goal is to have students in class … but when it gets to a point that [attendance policies are] so harsh and strict and stressing students out, that’s not healthy,” Tiefenthaler said. “So we want to help professors make attendance policies that actually correspond with what we need to succeed and thrive.”

For the accessible campus map, Payne said she has already done some work on a prototype for a project in a class she took for her disability studies minor.

“We started working on it, and I looked at the official Miami map and the online one has ADA accessible entrances and exits and parking, and I was like ‘well that’s not enough,’” Payne said.

The prototype she helped to come up with includes the locations of gender-neutral bathrooms, sharps-disposal bins, which dining halls have allergen stations, where to get gluten-free food and potential sensory spots for students to disconnect.

Under the pair’s campus sustainability pillar, their focus is to compost on campus. Tiefenthaler said that she and Payne have been researching what other colleges do for composting and talking with people from Aramark, the company that operates Miami’s dining services.

“We’ve talked with the physical facilities sustainability director; she’s very supportive,” Tiefenthaler said. “Aramark is very excited to compost on campus. So we’re excited to do that.”

Tiefenthaler and Payne’s campaign slogan is “create the good.”

Payne said the meaning behind the slogan is to reflect their passion for change and to invite the student body to help them in their endeavors.

“We’ve been really adamant on the fact that we are just two people, and while we absolutely can get everything done, we’re gonna need some help,” Payne said. “We can’t just do it alone. We’re going to need connections to really get a foot in the door.”

Additional information on Tiefenthaler and Payne’s campaign can be found on their Instagram or website.