Hearing from the Student Body Presidential Candidates

The annual student government election is days away. Voting opens at 8 a.m. on April 4. The ballot will feature the student body president and vice president, along with all the senators who represent the academic colleges. A debate will be held at 12:30 p.m., March 28, in the food court in the bottom floor of the Memorial Union for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. This year there are three candidates for president.

Kaylee Weigel is in her fourth year and is completing a bachelor’s degree in biology while also working towards an accelerated master’s in biology. Austin Anderson is her vice-presidential partner. Their website and social media can be found here, https://linktr.ee/weigelxanderson.

Anna Timmerman is a junior double majoring in studio art and art education. Connor Dilse is her vice-presidential partner.

Maximus Swenson is a junior majoring in business administration . Leah Feland is his vice-presidential partner. Their Instagram is @swensonfeland2023.

Why are you running for student body president?

Weigel – I’m running for student body president because I have so much passion for making change. At one point in my time at NDSU, I hated the campus and I never felt like it was my home. I heavily considered transferring to a different institution many times because I thought it would be a better place to go to school. Once I joined Student Government, I fell in love with NDSU and the potential it has. I’ve taken on a personal journey to make changes on campus to help improve the student experience, and I want to continue to do so on a bigger scale.

Timmerman – For the meme. But in all seriousness during this little charade, it has been really fun to just talk to classmates and friends who have no idea what student-body president does and get them more interested in the election, encourage them to learn about the candidates, and vote!

Swenson – If you would have asked me during my first year of college if I would ever consider running for a position like this I would say without a doubt no. That all changed when I started to see what it means to be a part of the NDSU community and what it can do for you. By getting more involved on campus, I started to see that some of the most valuable experiences one will have during college life are outside of the classroom. This is something that people forget and I want students to have the best possible experience in the classroom but also outside of it. That is why I am running, to continue promoting, building, and sharing the amazing experience that is college here at NDSU in Fargo North Dakota.

What do you see as the biggest problems facing NDSU students, and what is your plan to address them?

Weigel – I think it’s hard to narrow it down to just one problem. As students, we all see individual problems as our own biggest obstacles, and they can often be unique to each person. I think the biggest problem is that students don’t feel like their voice matters and that they can’t make a difference by themselves. This is something I have experienced myself and that I have heard time and time again. Our whole campaign is designed with student voices and vision in mind. We are taking the feedback we have heard (and new feedback we get) and making those changes our mission. By giving students an opportunity to share their voice and their vision for the campus, we are allowing them to feel heard and making a difference to help improve the student experience for ALL students.

Timmerman – Not the biggest problem, but nonetheless a problem is the lack of exotic animals on campus. I would love to get some gibbons or monkeys on campus or at least at the Red River Zoo (This is definitely outside of the scope of presidential powers, but it would be fun to make it happen).

Swenson – The largest problem that I see here at NDSU is people not feeling like this is a great place to be. I hear all of the time people saying “there’s nothing to do here” or “I wish I would have gone somewhere else” These are scary things to hear from students because it can affect all of us. Our team plans to fix this through multiple different avenues. By continuing to build and create connections with the local community of Fargo we will be better situated to provide students with a great experience in our community. Along with connecting student organizations with local businesses to help fund the activities they want to do rather than relying on funding from student dollars.

Compared to previous student governments, what do you want to continue and improve, and what should be changed?

Weigel – I think our organization has experienced significant growth over the past few years. We have worked hard to build a better rapport to aid in recruitment and retention, and I think that can be built upon in future years. I think there is a pretty big gap in support of organizations where retention and engagement have fallen off since the pandemic. There’s a lot of opportunity to help organizations be better promoted, supported, and connected to other groups or external entities. With help of the Student Government working together, we can help students who are struggling because they don’t have the proper resources, knowledge, or support to be successful.

Timmerman – We would like to improve students’ access to parking to help limit tickets and work with Res-life to allow students who are 21+ to have alcohol in their on-campus apartments. 

Swenson – Being a part of the current student government executive team has been an amazing experience. We have been able to do many great things such as helping to fund amazing events and helping to increase student involvement. This is something that must continue along with building upon the foundations that have already been created. Many students, however, do not fully understand what the Student Government does and I think we need to continue sharing why it matters for students to have a voice!

What makes you stand out from the other candidates?

Weigel – As a ticket, Austin and I both bring unique qualities. I’m a fourth year who hasn’t always loved their experience and he’s a freshman who has always loved the experience. He brings a lot of good change to freshman experience and I bring a lot of good change to the overall student experience (including graduate students too), so we can cater to all groups of students on campus. For myself specifically, I’ve done a lot to make changes already on campus. I am the student representative on the President’s Council on Retention, where I have helped create a new teaching quality and evaluation plan for faculty and am currently helping revise the office hour policy to be more responsive to student needs. Aside from changes, I have a lot of passion for making NDSU a better place for students, considering I know what it’s like to not love it here and have slowly made this place my home! 

Timmerman – We stand out most because of the lighthearted nature of our campaign.

Swenson – There are two words that come to mind when I look at myself and other candidates, they are experience and action.  Coming into college I had the great opportunity to be a floor representative in my Sevrinson hall government. This led me to join student government as a student senator for the college of business where I served on commissions and committees. During this time I saw the need for a new organization on campus, which led to the creation of Future Real Estate Professionals of NDSU. Starting this organization from nothing into one with almost 100 members and providing students with opportunities to meet employers has been one of my proudest accomplishments. Then to being chosen to serve as the Executive Commissioner of the Congress of Student Organizations in Student Government where we have seen the creation of almost 30 new student organizations on campus! When we want new student organizations, we find out what organizations do not exist. When we see organizations struggling to recruit, we help them recruit. When we see students uninvolved, we find them a club. We have done it and will continue to do it!

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