Bethel students gathered in The Underground on Feb. 21 to hear the candidates for student body president and their running mates share their views.
By Abby Petersen | News Editor
Suit jackets, ties and six water bottles lined tables on the stage of The Underground Tuesday night, playing host to the Bethel presidential debate in the first contested student body presidential election in two years.
Six candidates and their running mates filled the stage just after 9 p.m. Taji Onesirosan, current study body vice president, and Kelsey Spies, executive director of clubs and organizations, moderated the debate.
“For the first time in two years Taji and I aren’t up here fielding questions from you guys,” student body president Zoe Vermeer said at the beginning of the debate. Vermeer invited students to fill out note cards with questions for the candidates which would be picked up by members of Bethel Student Government.
“Please keep questions civil and about their platform,” she said.
Candidates and their vice presidential running mates included Katie Finney and Sterling Harer, Tyler Martens and Madeline Koengeter and Ellie Schlauger and Ben Schiffer. Flyers handed out at the door listed the candidates as well as application due dates for other open positions, available on the BSG website.
Candidates advocated for their plans of what they would accomplish if elected including improved parking from Schlauger and Schiffer and more community outreach from Martens and Koengeter.
Finney and Harer mentioned plans to facilitate the culture at Bethel.
“Culture starts from the top,” Finney said.
All candidates listed groups they considered underrepresented in their most pressing concerns for the Bethel community. Schiffer and Harer mentioned students of color and Koengeter added non-Christians to the list.
“People of color have made it known that they don’t feel valued and they don’t feel heard,” Schiffer said.
Harer mentioned he hoped to improve marketing for weekend activities for students on and off campus.
“What is the significance of chapel and other ministries on campus like SHIFT, Might Men and Rooted and how do you plan to grow and strengthen these areas of ministry?” Taji asked, reading a question from the crowed.
Martens cited chapel as a way to unite the university and plans to increase the number of student sermons.
“We think that as a Christian university we need to put a major emphasis on religion,” Schiffer said.
When asked what other set of candidates they would vote for if not themselves, Schlauger, Schiffer, Koengeter and Martens said they would vote for Finney and Harer. Finney and Harer said they would vote for Martens and Koengeter.
By 10:15 p.m. audience members began to filter out and Onesirosan announced the final question. Onesirosan encouraged audience members to check their emails Thursday morning for information on voting.
“A leader’s only as good as the followship,” Martens said.
Voting will be open Thursday online from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and in the Brushaber Commons from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Information on presidential candidates, courtesy of BSG:
Names and majors: Katie Finney (Presidential candidate, Business major) and Sterling Harer (Vice Presidential Candidate, Business and Political Science major)
Why students should vote for them: Katie and Sterling have ample experience in BSG. Katie has been a member of Student Activities and Sterling has served as the Executive Chair of Senate. Combined they also have been involved in various other organizations at Bethel such as SHIFT and Welcome Week. They strive to be impactful leaders on campus and effective representatives of the student body overall. Passionate about serving students, they aspire to create an inclusive and welcoming culture at Bethel where all students know they belong in our community. Ensuring all students are equipped with the resources they need to pursue what they are passionate about, they can encourage students to grow as a whole person while at Bethel. One of their main goals is to ensure faith remains a core value of BSG and that it is always focused on God. BSG should be a light on campus that points students to Christ-centered relationships. Additionally, they want to actively reach out to students that do not fit the typical Bethel mold and make sure they know BSG exists to serve them. Overall, Katie and Sterling want to be ambassadors for Bethel University because they are passionate about this school and seeing students go out into the world knowing they were changed for the better while here.
Names and majors: Ellie Schlauger (Presidential candidate, Business major) and Ben Schiffer (Vice Presidential candidate, Accounting and Finance major)
Why students should vote for them: Bethel is filled with creative, smart, and driven people. Our purpose is to get your goals and ideas implemented into our community. We will listen to you and work with you to cultivate an opportunity for your idea to become a legacy here at Bethel. You come up with ideas, we accomplish them. After listening to students’ requests, we have come to the realization that people desire more off-campus meal options. We have already begun talking with Sodexo and dining services to implement our plan. This plan will create relationships with your favorite restaurants to accept flex. We are going to work with safety and security to improve on campus parking. We will be pulling from the student body for ideas on how to implement this idea. Another area in our campus that needs attention is the minimal support for athletics. We want to foster opportunities for our campus to grow closer; sports are a wonderful platform for our community to come together. Investing BSG’s time and resources will get the student body more aware of what is going on and how to support athletics. Additionally, we would love to create an opening for students who are not in BSG to have an equal voice in what is going on. We will have a texting system where ideas can be sent at any time directly to us. We will also have “office hours” in the BC to make ourselves more available.
Names and majors: Tyler Martens (Presidential candidate, Business major (Finance and HR)) and Madeline Koengeter (Vice Presidential candidate, Organizational Communication and Relational Communication Major)
Why students should vote for them: It is our goal to provide you with a renewed vision of Bethel Student Government through new opportunities, improvements, and connections to our local community. We have experience within BSG between multiple departments, which will allow us to effectively represent the entirety of the organization. We recognize the sacrifice and the challenges that come with the positions of Student Body President and Vice President, and we look forward to embracing these wholeheartedly.