'Meet the Candidates'

Student senate event allows students to meet potential senators

By Jess Hodge | 3/19/17 9:25pm

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GVL / Emily Frye Student senate senator Sean O'Melia on Nov. 19th.


From national and state elections, to student-governing body elections at universities, it's important for voters to get to know their candidate and understand their platforms and what they are campaigning about. 

With this in mind, Grand Valley State University's student senate is hosting a "Meet the Candidates" event Wednesday, March 22, at 9 p.m. in Kirkhof Center's Pere Marquette Room. The event will be a meet-and-greet opportunity for students to ask candidates questions, for candidates to meet the students they will potentially be representing, and for candidates to meet each other.

Sean O'Melia, executive vice president of student senate, encourages all students and all candidates to attend the event.

"This event will be a great opportunity for being able to meet new people and find out what our future leadership could look like," O'Melia said. "Students will have the opportunity to meet with different candidates and ask any questions that they might have. This also gives a good opportunity for other candidates to meet with their potential fellow senators which is important before our cabinet elections."

The event is seen to be beneficial for students, as they will be able to meet with the students who will potentially be their representatives for the 2017-18 school year. Meet the Candidates will help inform students before they go out and vote.

"You might know a few candidates already but you can vote up to 10 candidates," O'Melia said, "which makes 'Meet the Candidates' a great event to meet the other leaders and ask them what their hopes and goals are and how they plan on achieving them."

Although candidates are not required to attend, O'Melia believes most of the people running for a position will attend, as this gives them an opportunity to make themselves available to students at GVSU.

In addition to the obvious benefit of getting people to vote for them, candidates will also benefit and learn from the atmosphere of a competitive election.

"This is a great way for candidates to work on their campaign pitches as they will have to reach out to new students if they want to find any success this year during elections as it will be very competitive," O'Melia said. "This will be their first opportunity to work on how to sell themselves before campaigning gets under way."

And the biggest benefit of all would be meeting the other potential leaders on campus.

"This will be a great way to interact and talk to people they could be working with for the next year," O'Melia said. "So this is important because obviously first impressions can last and most likely all of the leadership of the next student senate will be at this event."

O'Melia encourages all students to attend, so that they are able to meet future senators and ask them questions about their campaign and what platforms they are running on. 

For students who are unsure of what to ask, O'Melia suggests asking two big questions to every candidate.

" (One question) students could ask that are important to reinforce would be 'why do you want to be on student senate?' as it’s important to find out what is driving them and if they have your best interest in mind," he said. "The second question would be 'how (do) you plan on staying dedicated and passionate about these goals,' as I have seen many students who have a hard time staying dedicated through out the whole year and I would ask for students to really consider that."

Overall, the event should help both students and the candidates learn about future expectations. Senate has played a hand in many large projects at GVSU, including promoting the Fall Break and working with state legislation to raise funding for GVSU.

"You have a lot of different candidates and people to choose from, and people expect a lot out of student senate each and every year, but this is where the students come into play," O'Melia said. "The students have to make their voices heard and the best way they can do that is by attending this event and becoming informed on what is going on, so they can vote with the best knowledge possible."

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