SUUSA Executive Council Candidates Address Questions in General Election Debate

Candidates running for positions on the executive council of the Southern Utah University Student Association debated campus-related issues on Tuesday as a precursor to general voting.

The executive council consists of the student body president, vice president of academics, vice president of programming, vice president of finance, vice president of clubs & organizations and vice president of marketing.

Each candidate had one minute to introduce themselves and their platform and one minute and 30 seconds to answer each given question.

Candidates for student body president Nouman Kante and Matthew Mattheson discussed how they plan to handle the COVID-19 pandemic in upcoming semesters. 

Kante said he will lead by example by receiving the vaccine that will be available to all Utahns older than 16 years old beginning March 24 and will encourage SUU students to do the same. Mattheson will also encourage students to receive the vaccine but emphasized that he will not force them.

Mattheson described his platform as a way to help students struggling to find their purpose. He plans to create more major-exploration opportunities, cultivate a culture of career readiness and create more hands-on experience internships. 

Kante’s platform is about connection. While COVID-19 has caused many students to be disconnected, he wants to “rebuild friendships, and more activities can achieve that,” such as creating friendly spaces on campus like outdoor picnic tables and volleyball courts.

Rio LeFevre, VP of academics candidate, emphasized her love for the senate and her desire to get people involved. 

“I want other people to be as excited about what we’re doing as I am,” LaFevre said.

Both LeFevre and fellow VP of academics candidate Mitch Zufelt mentioned their willingness to talk with and listen to smaller organizations with school-related complaints.

“I’m really good at organizing people together,” Zufelt said. “Breaking things down into simple steps and making goals.”

Paige Washburn is the only candidate running for VP of programming. She discussed representing diversity by co-sponsoring events with a variety of organizations on campus as well as keeping events safe for students by continuing to use hand sanitizer and gloves when handling food even when the COVID-19 threat decreases.

VP of finance candidate MaKayla Brown shared her experience working with budgets as an event director in the Student Programming Board and always ending up with money to spare.

Brown promised to be transparent with students about their fees in addition to working with clubs to receive funding.

Brock Bleak is running for VP of clubs & organizations. He created and was president of a club as a freshman and is now the president of the Student Alumni Association.

Bleak plans to work closely with club presidents and organization leaders, work with the VP of marketing to promote clubs and their events and help presidents and leaders create specific goals for their organization.

VP of marketing candidates Brandon Croft and Ward Wilkes agree it is important to see more inclusivity of all students on SUU’s social media and in the promotion of events as well as using more digital marketing to make campus more sustainable.

Wilkes said he will work to provide relevant information about SUU that prospective students might be curious about on social media.

Croft added an idea of implementing focus groups to learn what students enjoy, because “in the end we’re here to represent them and their voices.”

General voting opens on March 24 at 8 a.m. through students’ SUU Portal or SUU app. Voting closes on March 26 at 5 p.m. and the results will be announced at 5:30 p.m. in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Living Room.


Story by: Tori Jensen