By Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau
New initiatives and how to execute them, along with diversity, were the major topics Monday night as students, staff and faculty gathered at GCBC on the second floor of the Student Union for a debate between the three groups running for student body president and vice president.
Hosted by the Associated Students of Grand Canyon University (ASGCU) and moderated by ASGCU program coordinator Brittney Calton, the debate began with opening statements as the candidates introduced themselves and highlighted their key platform points.
Noah Wolfe and Stephen Steininger summed up their platform by stating that “everyone on campus is valuable and an asset to the major puzzle that GCU is.” Wolfe and Steininger also pointed out that they want the campus to “continue becoming and believing in students succeeding at their passions,” while developing communication, providing commuters with opportunities and getting students more involved on campus.
Megan Kronstedt and Joshua Walker used the opening statement to explain their plan to unite the campus through Christ’s love. Additionally, Kronstedt talked about how her time in the GCU freshman class council and ASGCU senate and her role as a children’s pastor have taught her about the power of building relationships and being intentional with people.
Catherine Toews and Brittany Summers pointed out that they wanted students to feel so connected that years from now they would still call GCU “home.” Toews explained their focus on community, tradition and beautification. She said they wanted to embrace diversity by celebrating different holidays, including Chinese New Year and Holi. With the slogan "Stand Together," Toews said they believed everyone should feel equally welcomed at and bonded to GCU.
All of the candidates expressed their love for the University and the need to create an inclusive atmosphere.
“Cat and I just want to embrace everyone and feel God’s presence on our campus,” Summers said.
“I think we can immediately say that students want more parking or Taco Bell, which is true, but I think at the core of things students really want to be heard and valued,” Wolfe said. “College can be a really difficult place – I know spending two years as an RA I’ve had a front-row seat – and so it is OK to identify with that. You are valued here, and it’s important that we advocate for you so that you know that.”
Walker said, “Everybody is on this journey together to find themselves and develop their careers and who they want to be. Psychologically, everyone seeks that place of belonging and a lot of students come to GCU to find that sense of belonging. We hope you can find your purpose here.”
Steininger suggested having a student-involvement survey that would use the information to shape campus activities.
Wolfe spoke to the idea of a leadership certificate program to acknowledge student leaders on campus.
“We have a phenomenal student body on campus, and we want to recognize their accomplishments as student leaders, track their progress and then give them a certificate when they graduate,” he said.
Krondstedt highlighted the “Shine a Light” initiative. She said it derived from Matthew 5:16.
“We want GCU to be a light for the rest of the world, and so this initiative week would focus on shining a light on each other on campus and having a ‘Random Act of Kindness Day,’" Krondstedt said. “We really want to promote an atmosphere of God’s love that radiates on our campus and extends outward into the community.”
Summers addressed a new initiative called “Running with the Herd.”
“During the week, students can come and take a quick personality quiz, and we’ll give them five events they can go to that week and hopefully find people with similar personalities as them and Herd leaders,” she said. “These leaders will bond with them throughout the week and guide them throughout the year.”
Another significant topic was diversity on GCU’s campus.
Krondstedt said, “When I think of diversity, it is an issue that tends to divide people more than anything, but our goal is to unite the student body with one mindset. We want to send a message that we are all created in the image of God, we all bleed the same and we want to celebrate those different cultures on campus.”
She talked about building connections with existing diversity and multicultural clubs on campus and providing student leaders with training over the summer on the topics of diversity.
Krondstedt emphasized, “We are one in God’s kingdom, and as believers that is our goal – to be one.”
Toews talked about the importance of having diversity.
“It’s such a great thing to have and to explore, and we want to create those conversations through different avenues,” she said.
Steininger addressed the audience when he said, “On a more personal level – diversity is about you and it’s about me checking our hearts and saying, ‘Do I value people who are not like me? Do I appreciate those that are different from me? Do I seek to get involved with the Latino or the black or Asian culture on this campus?’”
Candidates also were asked about their methods for executing their platforms.
Toews said that, in their two years in ASGCU, she and Summers have had the opportunity to see a lot of different ideas. “We would like to highlight transparency in our administration because we know that sometimes ideas take longer than we would like and sometimes there are hiccups along the road,” she said.
She added, “You can ask us questions and see our website and social media.”
Wolfe said to the audience, “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we just want to partner with you. You have done the research, so let’s make it a reality.”
Kronstedt said, “We want to have an open-door policy so that students can come in and voice their concerns. We want to get active feedback from students and incorporate that in how we execute items on our platforms.”
The ASGCU elections close at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 31.
Other interesting facts about the candidates
President: Megan Kronstedt, junior from Surprise, majoring in communications
Vice president: Joshua Walker, sophomore from Las Vegas, majoring in business administration
Kronstedt is passionate about ministry, creative arts, government and serving others. Walker is passionate about business, finance and technology.
President: Catherine Toews, junior from Hesperia, Calif., majoring in pre-physical therapy
Vice president: Brittany Summers, junior from Phoenix, majoring in finance and economics
Toews is passionate about travel, hiking, exploring, friendships and continually bettering herself and the environment around her. Summers has a passion for serving the student body and the Lord. She has been on the ASGCU Senate for the past two years. She believes also believes it is important to see the world and has been to Japan, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, France and Italy.
President: Noah Wolfe, junior from San Diego, majoring in business management
Vice president: Stephen Steininger, a junior from Colorado Springs, Colo., majoring in biblical studies
Wolfe is passionate about reading, traveling and drinking Stampedes. Steininger is passionate about ultimate Frisbee and eating breakfast foods.
Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or [email protected]