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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Williams’ slate focuses on transparency

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By William Aranda / New Mexico Daily Lobo

ASUNM presidential candidate Rachel Williams, right, and her vice-presidential running mate Jenna Hagengruber talk about their campaign outside the SUB on Thursday afternoon. Williams will vie for the presidency against fellow candidates Colt Balok and incumbent Isaac Romero in the upcoming student government election.

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The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico’s third highest ranking official will try her luck at the undergraduate student government’s presidency during this semester’s ASUNM election.

ASUNM President Pro-Tempore Rachel Williams will run for presidency this semester with the Connect ASUNM slate. Williams will have to snag the spot from incumbent Isaac Romero, who will run with the Forward UNM slate, and ASUNM Sen. Colt Balok, who will run with the Team U slate.

Williams said she has always dreamt of being the student government’s president. She said she took a step to making it real last semester while talking to her vice-presidential running mate Jenna Hagengruber.

“The presidency for me has always been a faraway dream,” she said. “When I was a freshman, I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll do it.’ Somewhere along the way, it started to not be real anymore because there was always someone going to do it… We were kind of joking about it one day, then it was just, ‘Let’s do this. We can do it together.’”

First elected as a senator in fall 2012, Williams was re-elected last semester. This semester, she won the president pro-tempore position from Balok.

She said she has advanced knowledge of the nitty-gritty of ASUNM.

“I have lived breathed, slept ASUNM since I was a freshman,” she said. “I had two semesters when I literally went to every senate meeting every Wednesday. I understand the constitution. I understand the law book. And I understand finance, which is something a lot of people don’t really understand.”

Williams said that if elected as president, she would focus on encouraging collaboration among University bodies.

“This campus is so diverse… that sometimes it loses its meaning because we throw it around so much and we’re not truly appreciating what it actually means,” she said. “We have all these resource centers and they’re all silo-ed off. That’s something that, we found, is a major issue this year. ASUNM is so disconnected. The concept for our team is to start connecting everything back together.”

Williams said she also aims to run her campaign on transparency. She said that to reach out to students, she aims to establish an ASUNM blog that would regularly be updated by officials, which she thinks is doable.

“ASUNM has a director of communication, and they work at the executive branch,” she said. “Should I be elected, I would be working with the director of communication on it… We plan to connect our students through communication and transparency.”

Hagengruber said ASUNM should also be more transparent with regard to informing students about its finances. She said the government should reach out to various University bodies, such as the resource centers and Greek Life.

“The students are actually paying student fees, which is money that we would give out as a student government,” she said. “But many of them don’t know that they can submit appropriations, that they can come and submit resolutions. They don’t understand that these are things that they have access to just as much as we do.”

Hagengruber has been serving as an ASUNM senator for a year, and has served as senate clerk for former ASUNM Vice President Sunny Liu. She currently serves as chair of the Steering and Rules Committee.

Hagengruber said she is confident about running with Williams and their slate.

“We’re really happy to be running together,” she said. “We love everything and everybody about UNM, and I think that is just something that we take seriously. We take this race seriously, we are competitive, and we are strong women.”

But what really sets their slate apart is their love for UNM, she said.

“Something that our team very passionate about is being passionate,” she said. “We have experience and we have education on ASUNM, but we also bring such extreme about this University. We want it to succeed in every aspect.”

Williams said she finds her fellow presidential candidates and other students running for ASUNM positions fit for the post. She said that although she is optimistic that she would win, she still expects a civil election.

“We don’t want to say that anybody else isn’t qualified,” she said. “There are definitely people that are so qualified running against us. So, it’s going to be a great race.”

Early voting for the ASUNM election start Thursday.