As part of our “Interview the Candidates” series, Fourth Estate will be interviewing all four candidates for Student Government President and Vice President.
Laura Freeman and Taylor Sprague are running for Student Body President and Vice President for the 2015-16 school year on a platform of Accessibility, Community and Transparency.
“[We want] students to realize that they have a lot of access to resources and that there are ways to not only get involved on campus, but make their experience here at Mason have a lot of value to it through action,” Freeman said.
Part of their platform is an improved academic advising system.
“I felt in conversations with other students how different these experiences [advising] were,” Sprague said. “And how across different school and majors and different colleges, you receive a different experience and it’s either a great experience, a very bad experience or somewhere in the middle.”
Freeman is currently is a Lead Consultant in the Leadership Education and Development Office. She was also a member of the 34th senate, Patriot Leader, Patriot Activities Council Director of Traditions, Resident Student Association Secretary and Office Specialist in the Office of Orientation and Family Programs and Services.
Sprague is currently a Resident Advisor, a Lead Consultant in the LEAD office, a Mason Ambassador and a member of Golden Key International Honour Society. She’s also been the President of the Class of 2016 and the student government Undersecretary for Housing Services and Residence Life.
Photo credit: Freeman & Sprague Facebook page
Raquel DeSouza contributed to this story.
Due to time constraints, Fourth Estate omitted several questions from the interview. Those questions and responses are seen below.
POWELL: “And you all also talk about doing a Mason mobile app, what does that look like for you?”
FREEMAN: “So we definitely want to work with administration to basically create a hub of everything that’s happening on campus. So whether that’s knowing when dining’s opening when it’s closing. The Mason alerts. All the things are in different places but we’d like to bring it to app. Like right now we do have the Mason Mobile app but it is missing a lot of key features on it. So Mason Alert isn’t a part of the Mason Mobile app so you have to download all these different things. We have a lot of transfer students coming in and it would be nice to have one central location where we can find what is happening on campus, what event is happening tonight, are there any delays, what time is all the stores on campus opening or closing? Yeah this app would really just have all that there. That’s a very measurable and realistic goal that we are aiming to push.”
POWELL: “And now in your platform you also talk about the relationship between INTO students, who are our new international students living in what used to be the Mason Inn and is now the Global Center, and their relationship with current domestic students. So what do you hope to build from that, where do you hope that relationship goes.”
FREEMAN: “So with into its a separate program so its not something that Mason can completely control but they are still students here and they’re still patriots at the end of the day. So building the bridge between the communities and maybe going over there more often, getting to know like who are the INTO students? There’s no real introduction of them to the campus besides the fact that they live in the Global Center. they have a lot of classes there, they eat there so going over there more often. Maybe doing some events in the global center Bringing those students out of their comfortable spaces and maybe getting to know them more so facilitating more diversity training, maybe we can get to know where they’re coming from, why their here, what brought them to Mason, is it just INTO or did they want to be part of the Mason community as well. We have a lot of events on campus that brings all of the communities together but a lot of times that’s all just bundled into one week and thats [International] Week. But let’s branch outside of that and really dive in and get to know these individuals because like I said, we’re all patriots.”
POWELL: “So kind of switching gears again to something with a lot of controversy. There’s been a lot of talk in the national news about the [Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity] chant that was deemed racist online and it got posted to I believe it was the [University of Oklahoma]. Now what do you hope to garner out of the relationship between regular students and greek students that there’s a lot of tension going on campus. So what do you hope to improve?”
FREEMAN: “Yeah so last night, I actually went to an event. It was a general body meeting for Black Student Alliance but the topic was discussing a little bit about what’s been happening in the news. Members of SAE were there, including the Vice-President and the President which was great because there was a facilitated dialogue, a chance for us to actually to talk to one another and figure so out what was going on. What is the climate here at Mason? There is kind of like a divide where it’s like I’m either greek or a student going to classes every day but there is no need for that true, there shouldn’t be that divide. We’re all students. But one way that we were talking about last night was maybe doing more facilitated discussions, more diversity training, understanding that there are different cultures here, there are different communities, and with that comes ignorance, comes things that I may not know about specific cultures but I have to ask questions, I have to learn from experiences. And it’s one of those things where SAE, unfortunately, everyone associates one incident with a whole organization and that’s something as living as an african american female I have to associate the fact that I am black but, at the end of the day I’m doing great things but one thing can spoil all of that. But it’s really stepping up for who you are and SAE says they’re true gentleman so show us that you’re true gentleman and they did last night by coming out to the event and speaking up for themselves but also not only apologizing but saying they’re willing to take measurable and realistic steps to making a change within their organization and building the bridge between greeks and non-greeks and really coming together and learning from each other and not just saying, oh I’m greek, I’m not greek.”
POWELL: “And tying into that, you all mention a grace period for the National Panhellenic Council and the Multi-Cultural Greek Council for their recruitment process. What does that look like?”
SPRAGUE: “So one thing that we really focus on in the beginning of this campaign is really listening to student voices and asking them what they need and what they’re community needs. So I learned from one student, or was told from one student, that these organizations have to have five members and once they drop below that minimum they go inactive immediately. I’ve learned recently that those policies are a little different but these communities, they do have that grace period. About a semester and still time to recruit but then they still die out. So I think what that really focuses on and what we really wanna see is that we have so many greek [organizations] on campus and we have the NPHC communities and MGC communities that bring a lot of spirit, a lot of pride and a lot of community to our university and we want to see these communities celebrated and thriving as much as our other greek [organizations] do and really involved in that conversation, that process and highlighted across our campus because a lot of students involved in these [organizations] find they’re homes and their niches and develop the person they want to be through these organizations and so they’re work should be applauded. I, we think their work should be applauded more. We don’t want to see these Divine Nine [organizations] dying out and we wanna understand what we can do with student government to collaborate with these [organizations] and help their recruitment processes as much as we can and as much as we’re able to, to see these communities thrive.”