ASGCU candidates state views as election looms

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

After several difficult months of the pandemic, the three candidates for president of the Associated Students of Grand Canyon University (ASGCU) have healing and hope high on their agendas.

Azul Pereyra, Havilah Houston and Darion Padilla are vying for the top spot in student government this week with a Meet the Candidates event at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the Quad. Voting runs Wednesday through Friday at campus voting booths and on the GCU Engage app.

The candidates stressed the need for service opportunities to help the community through tough times, mental health, inclusiveness and unity, and a smooth transition to post-COVID normalcy as priorities for the 2021-22 academic year term.

The president is the chief spokesperson of ASGCU, which represents and serves the student body, and is responsible for executing all its policies and objectives while taking a vital role in team training, development and accountability. The executive vice president is the chief spokesperson for the Senate, serving as president of the Senate, while maintaining the legislative schedule and ASGCU records.

“Meet the Candidates is not a debate, and it will be like a town hall,” said Cynthia Arevalo, Student Engagement Manager in the Office of Student Engagement. “Candidates will discuss their platforms; we’ll have some prepared questions and there will be time for audience to ask questions.”

How to vote: 8 a.m. Wednesday to 4 p.m. Friday on the GCU Engage app, or 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday at voting booths on the Promenade, The Grove and Colter Circle.

Following is an introduction to the candidates, their running mates and priorities.

Azul Pereyra

Azul Pereyra

Year, major: Junior, Entrepreneurship, minor in Psychology

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Previous leadership experience: Freshman Class Council, Club Advocate

Running mate: Maddie Webb

Year, major: Junior, Business Administration, minor in Biblical Studies

Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado

Previous leadership experience: Senate, Club Advocate

Top two priorities in office:

  • "Create more service opportunities that unite the different leadership groups on campus (i.e., local and global outreach, ASGCU, resident assistants and life leaders) as well as the entire student population."
  • "Integrate more faith-focused mental health resources for students. One example is hosting workshops that teach students practical tips to encourage positive thoughts through praying, journaling, supporting roommates and friends, etc."

What Pereyra wants students to know about her:

“One of my favorite ways to love people is by providing a space where everyone feels welcome and accepted, whether it be a physical space or quality time in conversation.

“I am passionate about bringing freedom to victims of sex-trafficking and hope to start a nonprofit in the future that rehabilitates victims and supports the movement to diminish sex-trafficking altogether.

"I also love to worship!”

Havilah Houston

Havilah Houston

Year, major: Junior, Applied Entrepreneurship

Hometown: San Diego

Previous leadership experience: 2nd-year Resident Assistant, Vice President of Operations and Marketing for TEDxGrandCanyonUniversity, tour guide at the Antelope Reception Center, Discover GCU marketing host, Student Service Counselors office ground operations assistant, served on Colter Commons Local Outreach Ministry and Environmental Awareness Club.

Running mate: Bryce Lienemann

Hometown: Loveland, Colorado

Year, major: Sophomore, Government with an Emphasis in Legal Studies

Previous leadership experience: Resident Assistant

 Top two priorities in office:

  • "Further cultivate inclusivity through easy accessibility and welcoming atmospheres."
  • "Implement an awareness week dedicated to human trafficking."

What Houston wants students to know about her:

“Our slogan is 'Together we Stand.' Together, we stand for you. Together, we stand for change.

“Our core four focuses are innovation, community, communication and sustainability."

Darion Padilla

Darion Padilla

Year, major: Junior, Government and Communications

Hometown: Peoria, Arizona

Leadership experience: Three years with ASGCU

Running mate: Ben Claypool

Year, major: Junior, Business

Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona

Leadership experience: Two years with Canyon Activities Board (CAB)

Top two priorities in office:

  • "To help lead the school forward and to advocate for student needs in new and creative ways. With the light at the end of the tunnel with COVID, we want to make purposeful steps forward to ensure a smooth transition to normalcy."
  • "We are committed to advocating for student needs. ASGCU's main purpose is to advocate for student needs, and we are excited to assess those needs and find ways we can help."

What Padilla wants to students to know about him:

"I am very passionate about GCU, ASGCU and the students of GCU. I have devoted a good majority of my time here at GCU serving in ASGCU and advocating for student needs. In that time, I have made connections and gained valuable experience that can help advance the needs and wants of the student."

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

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