Students set to vote on new ASGCU officers
By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
It’s still election season at Grand Canyon University. Voting to choose a new president and vice president for the Associated Students of Grand Canyon University runs from Monday until 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Students’ choices for the 2017-18 academic year are the duo of junior Nathan Carpenter for president and junior Matt Shinn for vice president vs. junior Sydnee Akers for president and sophomore Colson Franse for vice president.
For the first time, polling stations will be available on campus. Also, students can learn more about the candidates’ platforms in a debate at 6 p.m. Monday on the second floor of the Student Union.
ASGCU exists to serve and advocate for the GCU students to the administration with a mission to build a voice for the students but also to create an enveloping community where fellowship and faith coincide.
“That would be through pushing initiatives, launching campaigns that speak to the students’ hearts and listening to students’ wants and concerns,” said Slate Herman, the 2016-17 student body president. “The senate and I get the privilege to speak on behalf of the student body, so we work toward understanding them.”
Last semester, ASGCU supported a number of initiatives, such as Mental Health Awareness, which aimed to create an understanding of mental health issues, and launched Career Education to provide career-focused training and resources through the University’s Career IMPACT Center. Herman passed the University’s first-ever constitution, explaining the role of the president and senate and the rights of students.
Herman called the yearlong opportunity to work as president (and vice president in 2015) “one of the best experiences.”
Herman said he appreciated every opportunity to speak with GCU President Brian Mueller; the dean of students and pastor, Dr. Tim Griffin; and the provost, Dr. Hank Radda.
He attributes his success to the 40 ASGCU staff members, who “are some of the most dedicated students that you are going to find on this campus serving the student body.”
His advice for the new president and vice president: “Remember why you ran in the first place – that will be your motivation for the rest of the year. Hopefully your motivations aren’t grounded on a scholarship or an office because when you have to stay late nights doing initiative work or sending emails, it’s going to be a sense of passion for the student body and GCU that is going to push you until the end.”
Here are the candidates’ responses to GCU Today’s questions about their platform:
Why were you interested in running for this position?
Carpenter: “Matt approached me with the idea in early September, and we sat down to turn things into reality. GCU has shaped me and I am passionate, especially as an RA, in helping other students realize who they want to be.”
Shinn: “Our biggest goal is to serve the students well. We have been able to do that for the last two years on a micro-level scale as RAs, and we are ready to take it to the macro-level scale to give students the best option to thrive here.”
Akers: “Being on ASGCU in previous years, we have developed a passion for GCU and the student body. I love the relationship ASGCU has with the administration – it’s such a huge dynamic. Running for student body president and vice president gives us the opportunity to take that to another level.”
What are some initiatives you would like to accomplish next year?
Carpenter: “Our biggest initiative is called the Golden Initiative, which would integrate students with more non-profit organizations such as The A21 Campaign, which works to end human trafficking and create awareness. We want to be very passionate about the community around GCU and not just on campus. To represent GCU as a collective whole, I feel that I can do that very well.”
Shinn: “We also would like continue supporting ‘It’s On Us’ and continue Mental Health Awareness Week because we care about our students.”
Akers: “Colson and I are running on the slogan of passion, and we use that in three different areas — passion for student safety, passion for student communication and passion for school-wide awareness. With safety, we want to start providing self-defense classes for all students on campus along with shooting drills in the case of an emergency. With communication, we want students to get involved and stay involved. Colson wants to add large GCU events to the student app so information is available. With awareness, we want to add a diversity week.”
What is the greatest challenge facing students on campus?
Shinn: “We want students to know that they are enough and to help them find their identity. We have this idea of being grounded so that students can be confident in themselves.”
Carpenter: “As students it is very easy to get burned out, and we want to continue changing our retention rate by helping students find better outlets, love and insight into the Christian needs that we have on campus. We want to give them a place to call home.”
Akers: “I think as a University one thing we want to hold dear as we continue to grow and expand is the concept of community. If we continue to pour into the students as we do now, the community will stay strong.”
Franse: “College is such an important time as a student. You’re shaping your beliefs and a lot of values you’re holding for the rest of your life. GCU has so many awesome events, resources and opportunities that students can take part in.”
How and how long have you prepared for these elections?
Carpenter: “We prayed about it and we thought about it for a solid week before we said we were interested because we wanted to make sure this was God’s calling for us. All the way along we’ve surrounded our decisions with prayer and collective communication. It has been a lot of meetings, work and ideas on paper. We have at least 40 people on our campaign team who are also trying balance their own lives to make this possible.”
Shinn: “Filling out the application alone took us at least 25 to 30 hours to be as clear and concise as possible. We worked on our platform over winter break via Skype, and when we came back we prepared for five hours before our interview. This week is going to be insanity – probably 50 to 60 hours to put in – but we’re very excited about the opportunity to serve our students. That’s our driving force.”
Akers: “I reached out to Colson during Welcome Week last year to run with me, but I have had the ambition to run since I was a freshman. From the day we decided to run, we have met weekly to discuss goals, logos, colors, events, supplies, etc. It has been a 24/7 thing. Sometimes, I’ve awakened in the middle of the night to text Colson about something we forgot to do. It’s a super stressful time and something that is constantly on our minds because we are so passionate about it.”
Franse: “Meetings were never short. We have had late night meetings and phone calls with our busy schedules as Student Leaders this year. It has even become a joke that I know what time Sydnee wakes up because there is that constant communication.”
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or firstname.lastname@example.org.