Election season

The official debate for presidential candidates rounds out the HUSC election season. Students will receive a ballot in their Hamline email inboxes on Monday, February 28.

Lydia Meier, Senior Reporter

The HUSC campaign season is coming to a close with elections from Monday, February 28 to Wednesday, March 2. It concludes after a February 17 informal debate for official presidential candidates and a February 23 formal debate.

Current HUSC first-year representative Tawny Plenty Horse moderated the formal debate in Sundin Music Hall, where official candidates were asked a series of questions on their plans, policies and opinions. Approximately 25 students and HUSC representatives attended the debate, while more students watched a livestream from HUSC’s Instagram (@yourvoicehusc).

There are two official campaigns for the HUSC presidency, and both were present at the debate. Sophomore Maddie Swanson and junior Emily Hilderbrand are running together for internal and external presidents respectively. Swanson and Hilderbrand are both current HUSC executive board members and are running to improve Hamline’s impact on students.

Sophomore Skyler Rush is running for internal president, alongside sophomore and external presidency candidate Spencer Olson, on a platform of listening to students.

HUSC executive board members and juniors Lisette Guzman and Lindsey Rajala are also running for the presidency, but did not appear at the debate. Guzman and Rajala are running as write-in candidates as they did not announce their campaign until after the official deadline passed, and per HUSC bylaws, cannot appear at debates or on the ballot. Their campaign has been focused around representation, concrete action and off-campus experience. Students can find more of their specific action plans on their Instagram, @lizlin4president.

Guzman and Rajala’s platform shares similarities with their opponents, namely on the topics of accessibility, increased community engagement from HUSC and transparency with the student body, which are also important topics for both the Olson/Rush and Swanson/Hilderbrand campaigns.

When asked for comment, the Guzman/Rajala campaign said, “The way we want to accomplish our goals is ultimately different… As a pair we both share 6+ internship experiences. We’ve been placed in real life moments of conflict, pressure and have been taught how to be adequate leaders among our peers. Together, we’ve had numerous occasions overcoming obstacles with a level head, an open mind and innovative solutions. Our perspective is broader than Hamline alone and we want to bring in that outside experience to conquer these ongoing issues that have yet [to] be resolved with only Hamline-based perspectives.”

At the debate, Hilderbrand and Swanson emphasized their goals of cultivating a relationship with the Multicultural Alliance student organizations, increasing composting initiatives on campus, creating a diverse HUSC executive board and communicating clearly and consistently with students. They also highlighted their previous experience at Hamline and on HUSC, as well as their campaign topics: environmental impact, social justice, community engagement and transparency, which students can read about on their Instagram, @emilyandmaddieforhusc. 

As for Olson/Rush, a common theme from their campaign has focused on the idea of “leadership that listens,” as their Instagram @s_and_s_for_prez states. Throughout the campaign, Rush and Olson have also emphasized their outsider perspective, as neither have served on HUSC. They have chosen to share very few action plans, preferring to shape their presidency by listening to students. However, one plan they mentioned during the debate was offering free or reduced parking to students with night classes.

 “You have to listen to your students and everything else will fall into place,” Olson said in his opening statement.

Both campaigns had different solutions to certain issues.

Rush feels that commuter students don’t feel a bond to each other and suggested events for these students as a possible solution.

Hilderbrand, on the other hand, focused on adding onto current HUSC initiatives, like the food and basic needs representative position that will be on the ballot this election, as well as the in-progress resolution for free parking from the current HUSC commuter representative. They also mentioned funding for bus passes and revising the academic calendar to give students more chances to visit their families.

When asked about addressing inaccessibility on campus, Swanson said that if elected, she would talk to facilities about making sure door buttons are in working order and work on creating an accessibility audit.

Both campaigns expressed interest in readdressing the West Hall ramp project and Rush proposed paying students to assist disabled classmates. 

Throughout the debate, a dozen viewers on the livestream expressed opinions on the candidates’ answers, while spectators in person remained impartial, clapping for opening and closing statements.

One of the questions for candidates was about how to create a safe environment for students in the wake of campus incidents surrounding Title IX.

Swanson said she would like to collaborate with the Dean of Students to continue educating students on the Title IX process, as HUSC did during the fall 2021 semester, while Hilderbrand stated that it all starts with being a person students feel safe around. Olson stated that he is “deadly serious” about victim advocacy, and in his opinion, Step UP! trainings should be mandatory for all students.

At one point during the debate, multiple students in the livestream raised concerns about Olson’s conduct history. The Oracle was unable to confirm or refute these statements from students as of press time. Olson was unable to provide comment to the Oracle due to scheduling. 

There is no HUSC rule which would bar students with conduct histories from running for or serving on the executive board. 

“All candidates completed the filing that made them eligible to be on the ballot, and we do not have the ability to oversee an overview of conduct violations, so it’s not my place to comment on any potential violations,” said current HUSC External President Raina Meyer.

Although all three campaigns have some similar values and policy proposals, the choice for voters will likely come down to how candidates plan to execute their ideas.