June 17, 2019

Interviews with the Presidential Candidates

Jonathan Frink, Erin McKeon, and Arwen Struthers sit down to answer some questions.

Interview transcripts have been edited for length and clarity.

Jonathan Frink, Class of 2020

Let’s start with the basics! What’s your major, where are you from and what do you do in your free time?

My major is political science and economics and I am from Los Angeles, California and in my free time, when I’m not on the tennis court, I love the outdoors, love to hike, love to go to the beach and love to watch sports.

You’re running to be Student Body President! Why do you think you’re the most qualified candidate for the position?

I have experience on campus, in a couple different areas. I was a Resident Advisor, I play tennis here, so I’m an athlete, I’m also a political science major, and I’ve also interned for a state senator. So I think from those wide range of experiences, that gives me a good perspective on Gordon, and allows me as the chief voice of the students to advocate for every voice on campus and to represent the students to the best of my abilities.

What kind of policy changes would you bring to GCSA as President?

I believe the mission of GCSA is that they’re there to enhance the experience of the students and also advocate for students’ voices. From an institutional organization of GCSA, I’d really love to see more engagement with the overall campus. I want to be talking to students and I want the reps to be outside of the office and be more intentional about talking with students and getting the overall sentiment of campus, rather than maybe just their friend groups. I really want to see them meet new students because I think there are a lot of different groups at Gordon: international students, athletes, multicultural groups. I really want to give each group a fair voice. I also want to increase Gordon’s presence in the community through participation and town activities, invitation to campus events, collaboration with churches and service. We expect that to advance Gordon’s reputation in the community and in the Greater Boston area. We believe that will benefit all students, by enhancing the College’s rapport and we believe that will enhance the value of our degree as well.

Attitudes towards student government can often be pretty apathetic across campus and if not apathetic, then negative. How would you fight this?

I think I really want to build relationships. As the President, I want to make time for relationships. I believe that’s one of the foundations of society and how change comes based on if you have a relationship with that person, you know, then you can do business with them. For example, next year I want to rebuild trust with GCSA by being more transparent and also through relationships with different people on campus, different leaders of clubs, different leaders of sports teams, of international students, and different academic departments and disciplines. I really want to reach out to people that maybe are underrepresented right now and would love to hear their voice because I think GCSA is there to advocate for all students.

Tell me about why you’re running with Jabez Wen.

Jabez is a sophomore here at Gordon and is an international student from China. I believe that we both have different perspectives, obviously growing up in different countries, but I think we see the world a lot different. I think that will benefit our leadership next year. I picked her because I want to be challenged in my own views and I believe that she represents a good portion of campus and sees things from a completely different light which I think will challenge me in my decisions and also provide me greater wisdom and insight into leading to the best of my ability.

Are you planning on giving up all other commitments if you win the office of the Presidency?

No, in that I’m committed to playing Tennis next year. But other than that, the Presidency is my primary commitment.

What would your message be to undecided voters?

My message would be that I think GCSA is there to enhance your experience, so talking to students, a couple of the different needs we have seen are dining services, student events and also school spirit. So, kind of those three things are three of our priorities we want to see next year. And so I believe those will connect with a lot of people on campus and really resonate with you. We want to increase school spirit through partnering with Athletics and increase student engagement there. Dining services, we want to think creatively to think of ways to maybe offer different food options. We believe that Gordon does have great chefs and great quality food, but maybe reforming menu changes and really thinking creatively to improve the student’s experience there. And lastly, events on the weekend; we believe that is an area where Gordon is lacking right now. We really want to offer just different offerings of events for students to do! Any student can resonate with that message; at times Gordon can feel quiet on the weekends and we really want to improve that vibe. We thought of offering a cooking event for students, where we could bring in one of the chefs from the kitchen and teach 30 students how to cook a basic meal. And we want to think of more creative ideas like that and really engage students that way. So, out of those three offerings we believe that you will connect with each and every one of those.

Any final words to share?

Lastly, I really believe that I can create more campus unity through my participation in different areas on campus. As Christians and as believers I believe that we should be united between the same mission and the same goal. Through my experiences and my policies I really want to see Gordon come together and I really want to build bridges between different groups on campus. I believe that will improve the experience of every student.

Erin McKeon, Class of 2021

Let’s start with the basics! What’s your major, where are you from and what do you do in your free time?

My major is business administration with a concentration in management. I am from New York. I really enjoy reading, I enjoy being in the outdoors, obviously in the winter it’s not as possible as it is in the summer, I do enjoy hiking, biking riding, etc. I also like listening to Broadway show tunes!

You’re running to be Student Body President! Why do you think you’re the most qualified candidate for the position?

This year I have served as Vice President of Finance. Compared to all other roles on GCSA, (obviously they’re all important and they all serve a very specific purpose), the Vice President of Finance position translates really well to the Presidency, in terms of the skills I’ve learned in the position. Coming into it, I think that I had the administrative skills of knowing how to keep everything organized and knowing how to get the tasks that needed to be done, completed. I think I had that stuff down. But in terms of more of the leadership aspects of the role, in terms of talking to club leaders, telling them if they need to cut their budget, these are hard conversations that need to happen sometimes. I’ve learned a lot of leadership skills doing that. All that to say, I think that the skills that the Presidency requires are a skill set I possess. Obviously, I’m not perfect and I could work on those skills; but I think that’s also part of the job, learning through mistakes sometimes. And I think if I were to win, I’d be excited to take that on.

What kind of policy changes would you bring to GCSA as President?

In terms of what Cam and I have as our platform, the main thing that we are really focusing on is hearing from students and what our peers want to see from student government. We have a platform obviously, but part of our agenda is just very open ended in terms of, we would create structures, if we were to win, to hear from students, to hear what they want from GCSA, from student government. So an example of that is an idea we had is doing coffee with the President, so instead of doing office hours, people could come to Chester’s to talk to me and I would buy them coffee. We would just chat if they had concerns, ideas or anything like that. From Cam and my perspective, we see GCSA as an opportunity for students to voice their concerns, voice their ideas, to a specific group of people who actually have some sort of power and some sort of resources to maybe make a change. And so that’s the main focus of our campaign.

Attitudes towards student government can often be pretty apathetic across campus and if not apathetic, then negative. How would you fight this?

That’s definitely part of our main platform. We do 100% recognize that students can be, as you say, apathetic towards student government. For us, the biggest thing is just showing up. There are so many students on campus and they are participating in so many different activities; why would we expect them to really care about what we are doing if we aren’t offering the same in return? And so I think the first step in that is just showing up to their events. So athletic games, just having a presence there, art shows, plays, you name it, we want to be there and show support for our peers. If we don’t care about what they’re doing, we can’t necessarily expect the same in return. And it’s not necessarily a tit for tat kind of thing, but just showing that we do want to support our peers in everything that we do and hope that they would feel the same about us.

Tell me about why you’re running with Cam Grinnell.

Cam is a freshman, which some may say is too soon to be Vice President, but he knows Gordon super well. He grew up in the area and he has family who has gone here, and so he is not unfamiliar with Gordon in any sense of the word. In fact he’s probably more familiar with it than I am! In terms of what he specifically brings to the table, he’s a political science major which is typical for student government I guess. He’s very passionate and he’s very excited about the opportunities that this might provide. He also offers a fresh perspective which I really appreciate, since I have been on GCSA for a year, I think sometimes that can cloud my perspective of how students might view the institution as a whole. Since he hasn’t been apart, he does offer those new ideas and those new thoughts.

Are you planning on giving up all other commitments if you win the office of the Presidency?

I currently don’t have any commitments next year, so there’s not necessarily anything to give up! The only things additionally to Vice President of Finance that I’m doing this year: I did women’s choir in the fall, but I’m not doing it in the Spring semester and then I tutor for a business statistics course and I don’t know if I would do that next year, but it’s only an hour or two of my time each week.

What would your message be to undecided voters?

I’m glad that you are planning on voting. Honestly, Cam and I are really convicted in the sense that we don’t want to be super aggressive in saying “Vote for us,” because I do recognize that there are other candidates in the race who offer different things than we do. But for people who are undecided, we really are committed to making the student government a different environment than it has been in the past just in the sense that we really value bringing out greater ease of approachability. I think that’s something that’s been missing from student government. Having a continual reminder that we all are students first and we are all here on campus together; the ultimate goal of student government is to make campus as good as it can be for students to enjoy it while we’re all here together. I think it’s really important to keep that perspective in mind.  

Any final words to share?

I don’t know the history of GCSA, in terms of past Presidents’ majors, but I’m a business major and a management concentration. While I’m no means an expert in management, I think that’s something interesting I bring to the table. It is a 25 person organization; that’s a decent amount of people to corale. And so I think having that experience in classes learning how to motivate people and learning how we can all best work together and what best practices to set up as a leader is helpful in terms of this role!

Arwen Struthers, Class of 2021

Let’s start with the basics! What’s your major, where are you from and what do you do in your free time?

I’m Arwen Struthers. I am a communication arts and political science double major. I am from Wheaton, Illinois. And in my free time, wow, I typically spend my free time with my friends or working on extra curriculars, so Student Government, Exit 17, the Hypernikon. And I also really love to go out on food adventures with friends, so we’ll go out and try different restaurants.

You’re running to be Student Body President! Why do you think you’re the most qualified candidate for the position?

I believe I am the most qualified candidate for this position because of my experience in student government, as well as my experience outside of student government. So within student government, I’ve been both a representative and a vice president. I served as the Sophomore class representative first semester of this year and then second semester I was appointed as the Vice President of Club Development in the absence of the previous Vice President. I was appointed because I had been on the Club Development Committee and had been working with clubs and GCSA is really club focused. A lot of what we do with student government is working with clubs. And so I’ve been hands on working with different club leaders, seeing what their needs are and helping them meet those needs. I have also been on student government this year, so I know all of the different things that have happened; the things that the current administration has done that have worked, such as the town hall we recently had. But I also know the things that we’ve done that haven’t worked and as a result moving forward, next year I would be able to implement the things that have worked. But beyond just my experience in student government, I have also served in a variety of other areas on campus. I have been on Exit 17 for the past two years. I am the athletics content manager for the yearbook and I just really love serving the Gordon community. There are a lot of different ways I can do that and these have given me the skills as a writer and as someone who is connected to different people on campus that I will be able to use those connections moving forward to best benefit the student body. I also have four years of professional public speaking training and as the President’s major role is to represent the student body to the administration I believe that those skills in public speaking will allow me to clearly and concisely articulate your needs to the administration.

What kind of policy changes would you bring to GCSA as President?

So, one thing that my Vice President and I have really thought a lot about is we want to be very transparently serving the student body and we can do that in a variety of ways. So the town hall that we recently had for GCSA was extremely successful for two reasons. One, students were able to come and voice any concerns that they had, and two, students were given an immediate response. I think a lot of the time, students don’t know what’s happening in GCSA or what GCSA is doing to improve the lives of students. So we want to be very transparent in what ways we are serving the student body. And we believe we can do this by taking the first five to ten minutes of every single forum next year and setting that time aside as a town hall period where students can come, voice concerns, they don’t feel pressure to stay for the entirety of forum, but they can come and get an immediate response. So that’s one example of a policy change. Another example of a policy change is we would like to ideally work with athletes on campus. Athletes are a huge percentage of students on campus. I believe there’s over 300 student athletes, which is an amazing amount of students and it’s wonderful that they are engaged. But I haven’t seen very many ways student government has enhanced their lives or specifically reached out to athletes. So Cailyn and I would like to work with the Athletics department to do student government sponsored rallies during the regular season for as many athletic teams as possible, so students are able to see that the student government is supporting them as they are participating in athletics. But then also having that hand extended to them saying, “We are here to support you. We want to encourage you in the things that you’re doing.” So, that is something that we would like to do with as many athletic teams as possible next year.

Attitudes towards student government can often be pretty apathetic across campus and if not apathetic, then negative. How would you fight this?

One thing that I have learned a lot about as a speaker, in Exit 17 specifically, is how to engage audiences and I think that there are a lot of opportunities for student government to engage the student body, whether it be through outreach at various events or making themselves more known on a day-to-day regular basis. The student government under me and Cailyn as the President and Vice President would be able to engage students by actively seeking them out. We want to be actively seeking out all kinds of students on campus, from athletes, to Res Life, to the Chapel office, to students who aren’t very involved and we believe that we can do that by working with the representatives, at-large and the class representatives to do various representative initiatives and to make sure that those representatives are involved on campus. Cailyn and I believe that if we can get the representatives involved on campus and actively seeking out student opinion more and more, we will hear more feedback from the student body. One that thing that Cailyn and I really want to do is to do more public speaking and more active engagement with the student body. In the wake of budget cuts this year, students are going to be feeling a lot of things. We believe that student government has a role in helping students process and articulate the concerns that they have post budget cuts. I believe that as President and Vice President, we can step into that role and really show students the positive impact that student government can have in serving students and voicing their concerns to the administration. In the process of demonstrating that we will assertively articulate their concerns, there will be less apathy and more positive feelings about student government, knowing that student government is there fighting for students every step of the way.

Tell me about why you’re running with Cailyn Nusser.

I have known Cailyn since the beginning of freshman year. We are both sophomores and we will both be juniors. We know each other very well and she is someone who I completely and fully trust. I believe that the role of vice president is the role that the President needs to be able to turn to in any instance to ask for advice and to get pushback on ideas and to be someone who can communicate with members of student government in building that community. I believe that Cailyn is the best person for that job. She is also currently the director of an executive council and one of the major roles of the Vice President is to oversee all of the executive councils, which are basically a selection of clubs on campus that GCSA has a vested interest in. I feel that the transition from the director of the Common Exchange to the Vice Presidential position would be a really natural fit for her, especially because she knows how executive councils operate.

Are you planning on giving up all other commitments if you win the office of the Presidency?

Absolutely; I believe that in order to serve the student body to the best of your ability you need to give up all your other commitments.

What would your message be to undecided voters?

I am here to serve you, especially as we look to the future. We want to operate transparently, actively engage you and consistently communicate what is happening in student government. I believe that given my continuous experience and Cailyn’s perspective we will best be able to serve the student body. We love Gordon. It’s not a perfect college, but it’s our college. And we want to make sure that students are given the opportunity to engage with the things and activities they want to engage with, and to be heard, especially in the aftermath of budget cuts. Cailyn and I hope that you will let us serve you as we move forward.

Any final words to share?

Go vote!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*