Emma Austin ’19 is running unopposed for the position of President in the ongoing Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) elections for President and Vice President. Keishan Christophe ’19, who is running alongside Austin for Vice President, is competing against Justin Ratkovic ’20 for the position of Vice President.
WSA elections have frequently featured limited fields of candidates in recent years. In last year’s election, current President Nila Ravi ’18 and Vice President Sanam Godbole ’19 ran for their positions unopposed. Similarly, in the 2014 election, former President Grant Tanenbaum ’15 and former Vice President Nicole Brenner ’15 won without any opposition.
“The two positions require a lot of work, and while I think competitions in elections are important, it’s difficult when there isn’t a huge pool of potential candidates to start with—especially since normally VP or presidential candidates have some leadership position within the WSA first,” Ratkovic said.
Austin echoed Ratkovic’s thoughts, explaining that the candidate pool is small because of the expertise the positions demand.
“Running for President of the WSA is highly self-selective because of the familiarity with the WSA that it requires,” Austin said. “The background for this position is extremely important to know how the WSA works and what makes it run smoothly.”
Austin has been on the WSA since her first year and is currently serving on the WSA’s Leadership Board as the Community Committee Chair. In her statement, she described how she hopes to improve communication between the WSA and the rest of the student population, as well as develop a relationship with the newly formed Student Resource Center.
“As President, I want to continue to force the University to be accountable for their actions and their inactions,” Austin wrote in her statement.
Austin believes that her greatest achievement as part of the assembly was introducing and helping pass the “No Hungry Student Act” in 2016. This act gives students who stay over winter break a food allowance while they remain on campus. In addition, Austin also helped introduce the “emergency points plan” and tied the meal plan to inflation, so points and meals will continue to change accordingly.
Christophe, Austin’s running mate, also commented on what the duo hopes to achieve if elected. In her statement, she specifically mentioned their goal of working with Wesleyan’s IntraGreek Council (IGC) to improve the WSA’s relationship with Greek life on campus.
When asked what they had to offer as a team, Austin mentioned her dynamic relationship with Christophe.
“We balance each other out while having an underlying tone of enthusiasm that brings us together,” Austin said. “We’re super collaborative about our ideas, and since we belong to very different groups on campus, we have a really nice span of Wesleyan that helps to inform a more holistic approach to our initiatives.”
Like Austin, Ratkovic has served on the WSA since his first year and is also currently on the WSA’s Leadership Board as the Academic Affairs Chair. When asked if any of his achievements as part of the WSA so far stood out to him as the most significant, Ratkovic mentioned his role in creating the Assembly’s Equity and Inclusion Committee.
“This committee has been important in forcing the WSA to look introspectively but also act in cases to ensure that injustices perpetrated by student groups are dealt with,” Ratkovic explained. “It seemed to make discussions and projects related to equity and inclusion on campus more prevalent.”
In particular, Ratkovic spoke about how he believes his role as the Gender and Sexuality Intern at the Student Resource Center makes him a strong candidate for the role of Vice President. He agreed with Austin about the importance of the center on campus, and the necessity of a good relationship between the WSA and the Center.
The deadline to vote for President and Vice President in the WSA election is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 27.
Claire Isenegger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.