Just one ticket is on the ballot when polls opened for student body president and vice president on April 2. Michael Chapman and Abby Falgout with their campaign manager, Colin Weber, sat down with The Standard to answer the Bears’ most pressing questions.
Michael Chapman, Student Body President candidate: I am a junior public relations major from the Kansas City area. Here are some of my leadership roles:
- Speaker Pro Tempore and Director of Internal Affairs in SGA
- URSA Major
- Member of the Student Affairs Advisory Board
- Former president of Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity
- Member of the first Student Diversity in Leadership Institute
- Bears LEAD mentor
Abby Falgout, Student Body Vice President candidate: I am a junior business administration management major from St. Louis. Here are some of my leadership roles:
- SGA senator for the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority
- Former ASA president
- Career Center student employee
- Member of the first Student Diversity in Leadership Institute
- Former SOAR leader
- Former URSA Major
Colin Weber, Campaign Manager: I am a sophomore human resource management major, and I am from Columbia, Missouri. Here are some of my leadership roles:
- Vice president of Theta Chi Fraternity
- Secretary of Senate in SGA
- Employee at the Office of Student Employment
- Returning SOAR leader
- Returning URSA Major
What are the team’s plans should you be elected?
Chapman: Our platform has three sections: inclusive excellence, health and safety, and academic engagement.
Under inclusive excellence, our goal is to improve diversity and inclusion. The main elements to tackle here include upholding and supporting the Multicultural Resource Center and the Transitions Closet.
When it comes to health and safety, we want to complete the bike share program, which has been in the works with SGA for several years. We also want to implement a bike lock sharing program via the Foster Recreation Center to decrease bike theft. We also intend to partner with the Counseling Center to provide realistic and relevant mental health efforts.
The crux of our academic engagement pillar is to not let COVID-19 be an excuse for not being engaged on campus. While being safe, we should keep making impactful changes, such as upholding organizations that support first-generation students and their endeavors as well as educating the student body about the Behavioral Intervention Team, an important and underrepresented resource on campus.
What led to your decision to run?
Chapman: I am an openly gay first-generation student who came from a low-income background. I have my own personal barriers that prevent me from succeeding every day, and I know students have their own identities and have barriers they face, too. I want to make sure students feel worthy to be here and that they deserve to succeed.
Falgout: Through managing my sorority through a global pandemic and other leadership positions, I’ve seen so many things that can and should be changed on campus. I’m eager to work with Michael and Colin to make those changes happen. I wanted to continue pushing myself and giving back to the community that has made me the woman I am today.
Weber: I approached Michael knowing I wanted to be on a ticket. I knew I wanted to take this step to further my leadership. Michael and Abby truly want to make real changes to impact all students for the better, so that’s kept me motivated through this whole process.
What changes can students expect to see compared to the Tara Orr and Blake Haynes administration should you be elected?
Chapman: We will reframe the cultural competency section of the general education requirements. Classes will tackle more diversity and inclusion topics, as well as bias training in first-year foundation classes so students can recognize their own biases and instill that in their academic and professional fields.
Within health and safety, we will bring realistic mental health efforts and focus on what students want to see. We want to provide better resources. Quality over quantity is the name of the game.
For academic engagement, we will bridge the communication gap: Social media is a great outlet for communication, but not all students have social media. What all students do have is Blackboard, Outlook and YouTube. We’ll better communicate our ideas by going across these platforms in addition to other social media so students are aware of programming and changes in SGA that affect everyone.
Falgout: When Blake and Tara came into their positions, COVID-19 was thrown at them. They didn’t have time to prepare, and there wasn’t much time for anyone in leadership positions to process how they can make effective changes despite these circumstances.
Compared to last year’s president and vice president, our ticket had time to work with the situation we’re in to make changes happen and bring the campus back together. We’re prepared for it, and we’re ready for the unexpected.
Will fall 2021 be a post-COVID-19 semester?
Chapman: I am fortunate enough to be fully vaccinated, and Abby and Colin will be vaccinated soon. We encourage all students to get vaccinated when they can. According to President Clif Smart, we are trying to get back to a semester that’s as normal as possible. There is a possibility for a no-mask fall, but we are prepared to provide resources for students who feel concerned about going to class without masks.
Look forward to additional programming like Welcome Weekend in full force; URSA will be taking place too, on campus this time. It is a top priority to give incoming and current freshmen, who didn’t get the full experience this year, those opportunities in a safe and conscious manner.
Falgout: We hope next semester will be as back to normal as possible, but if it isn’t, we are prepared to tackle anything head-on.
Weber: Our campaign slogan is “come together,” and you can see that in various ways. Even if we can’t come together physically, there are plenty of other ways we can do that as a student body.
Why should students vote for you?
Chapman: Students should vote in general because they should be in-the-know about things that directly affect them. And they should vote for us because we have put in the research — through university administration and student organizations — to be prepared and because we genuinely want to do the best we can for the student body. We truly care and want to make a difference on campus.
We understand there are students who don’t feel supported and heard, whether it’s because of COVID-19, racial injustice or bias incidents. We hear you, and we are determined to change things so you feel safe and worthy to be on campus. As FSL chapter presidents, Abby and I have seen things that we want to change but couldn’t do anything about from those positions. But we can tackle them as student body president and vice president.
Falgout: It may sound cliche to say we are ready to implement real change on campus, but it’s true. We’re ready to make students’ experience on campus the best that it can possibly be.
Weber: My main duty is to show why students should vote for Michael and Abby. They are amazing leaders, friends and advocates. They support the student body and should be a resource to go to. Our platform embodies what the student body wants to see.
Polls close April 9. Click here to vote.
Follow Diana Dudenhoeffer on Twitter, @kisstein
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