ASG Stock Photo

The 2021 Associated Student Government treasurer and secretary candidates introduced themselves to the student body and shared their plans for improving the UofA in the first debate of the campaign season Wednesday night.

The candidates representing the Make it Matter ticket, juniors Shalu Jivan and Sarah Feather, joined the Vision ticket’s candidates, juniors Hanna Patel and Kaleigh Koc, in Giffels Auditorium to discuss their visions for the 2021-22 school year.

Secretary candidates Feather, who is majoring in communications, and Koc, who is majoring in journalism, both said they think every student’s voice should matter equally, and ASG members need to do a better job of reaching students.

“Outreach means making sure that every single student on this campus knows where to go within ASG to gain resources,” Koc said. “But it also means that every single student’s voice is heard and is a factor in every single decision that is made.”

To gain insight on how best to engage students, the members of the Vision ticket plan to introduce an executive cabinet position that focuses on research, student outreach and Registered Student Organizations, Koc said.

Feather said she thinks ASG should be engaging students beyond its liaisons and RSO leaders.

“On this campus, every student matters, so even just getting one more person engaged in a week than we had before is better than where we started,” Feather said.

Both secretary candidates discussed using social media and online student networks to connect with students and improve their perceptions of ASG. If elected, Feather plans to highlight the contributions of student leaders by naming an “RSO of the Month” on Hogsync, she said.

Koc’s goals as secretary include following through with students on issues they have expressed concerns about and creating a marketing channel that would comprise all 400 RSOs, she said.

“I think that it is really important that, when ASG is telling students across the campus they are going to do something, that follow-through is the top priority in creating that trust between ASG and students,” Koc said.

Koc and Feather also discussed their plans to go beyond the ASG secretary’s basic responsibilities, which includes submitting meeting minutes, managing internal and external communications, guiding ASG marketing efforts.

“However, this is just the bare minimum, and I am not someone who just settles for the bare minimum,” Feather said. “In this position, I think that you should be going above and beyond in thinking of innovative ways to be an effective communicator not only within ASG but outside of ASG.”

Treasurer candidates Jivan and Patel took the debate stage after Koc and Patel.

Jivan said she thinks she is qualified for the position because of her experience with the budget process as the treasurer of the Indian Cultural Association, a position that has also given her a first-hand understanding of the complicated standing rules for RSOs.

“I want to create a community where it is easier to understand what is going on with the funding process, and allow ourselves a better and clearer way to connect with ASG agents and OFA agents (so they can)....not be intimidated to ask us questions,” Jivan said.

Patel said she thinks she should be elected because she is familiar with every angle of funding and budgeting, from her experience serving as deputy to former ASG treasurer Kevin Smith Jr. and as the treasurer of the Diversity and Inclusion Student Council. If elected she plans on providing an open line of communication for students needing help with funding, she said.

Patel also wants to establish a cultural leadership community council, she said. The role of the council would be to help RSO members network with each other and learn how to improve their events. It would also provide more opportunities for Office of Financial Affairs staff to help with the RSO funding process.

One of Jivan’s proposed initiatives is the introduction of one-on-one funding consultations. She said she thinks “the purpose of the OFA has been forgotten in recent years.” The consultations would allow board members to be educated on the entire funding process and “show them how to apply step by step for a budget through Hogsync.” Jivan said she wants to come to students rather than students having to come to her

Jivan and Patel said forming a diverse OFA board is necessary to ensure that the funding allocation process is free of bias or discrimination.

“Every student should feel represented at the table when voting occurs,” Patel said.

In an effort to make the OSA board more inclusive, Jivan hopes to collaborate with other ASG agents to make sure that they are communicating with other RSOs.

If elected, Patel plans on using her on-campus connections, as well as working with ASG’s marketing team, to reach as many organizations as possible and make sure they know about available opportunities to serve on the OFA board.

Jivan also wants to implement a system of consequences for misuse of funds by RSOs, she said.

Make it Matter’s Caleb Parker and Andrew Kutchka will take the stage with Vision’s Coleman Warren and Teia Anderson in a debate at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Giffels Auditorium. The event will be live-streamed on the UATV Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Voting for the ASG executive board will be open March 1-3. Students can vote online at asg.uark.edu/elections or fill out a paper ballot at polling stations around campus.

Abbi Ross, Kate Duby and Sarah Komar contributed to this report.

Editor’s Note: Nabiha Khetani, a staff reporter at The Arkansas Traveler, is employed by the Make it Matter campaign. Khetani is not involved in 2021 election coverage, and The Arkansas Traveler strives for comprehensive coverage of all election tickets.

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