As students are returning from Spring Break, the Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) Presidential Election Cycle is firing up. While candidates can spend months planning, most students really only get to see the final dash of campaigning that takes place immediately before and after Spring Break. For the second year in a row, the student body will get to hear, judge, and vote on the platforms of two tickets.
As with last year, both tickets are headed by established VSG candidates who have spent their careers at Vanderbilt as a part of the organization. In contrast to the last cycle, both candidates for Vice President are sophomores with a less established history in VSG. Both platforms contain similar initiatives, such as increasing diversity within VSG, expanding Graduate School preparation resources, programming aimed at further integration of first-year, transfer, and international students, creating access to feminine hygiene supplies on campus, advocating for renewable energy, and pushing for more spaces dedicated to communal events and storage.
VSG Director of Campus Outreach Frances Burton and Veer Shah are launching a campaign under the motto “Let’s Go”. First serving as her Commons House President, Burton served in the VSG Senate last year before making the switch over to Cabinet this year. Prominent points in the platform include pushing for more EBI-style dining halls to reduce food waste, advocating for the University’s divestment from fossil fuels, reviewing Vandy Van routes, and implementing Green Dot Training as a mandatory part of the CommonVU Orientation program.
“Reaching Higher” is being spearheaded by Academic Affairs Chair Nico Gardner-Serna and Taylor Thompson. Many students will recognize Nico from the Phyllis and Nico campaign which came up just short in last year’s election. Unique to their platform are introducing the role of the VSG Director of Outreach and Advocacy, opening seats on University Committees to relevant students and student organizations, creating of an internal textbook marketplace, establishing a VSG “Well-Being Fund” to help fund events/programs on student wellness, and working with leaders of other Nashville universities to lobby local Officials.
Both tickets also agree on VSG’s role in advocating to help students doing unpaid internships or student-teaching, as well as aiding student organizations in cross-collaboration; however, the platforms, on face, seem to differ on how to go about accomplishing these ideas.
With the high level of similarity among the platforms, the candidates will have to take every moment of the campaign to differentiate themselves and make the argument why they should be elected. Students will have an amazing opportunity to interact with the candidates at the VPR-moderated Main Campus Debate on March 12th at 5pm in Rand Lounge.