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Vining and Prchal face off in SA Presidential election

Illustrated by Dalia Gulca

By Brian Lin     2/17/21 1:35pm

Kendall Vining, the current Student Association internal vice president, and Jarrett Prchal, the current chief justice at Hanszen College, are the two candidates on the ballot for SA president this year. Voting opens Feb. 18 at 12 p.m. and closes on Feb. 26 at 12 p.m.

Vining said she would like to improve SA accessibility and advocate for Black students at Rice, while Prchal said he would like to improve SA communication with a wider range of students.

“I have made tangible efforts across and beyond campus,” Vining, a junior at Martel College,  said. “I feel like even if people don’t know me, they might have known of, engaged in or benefited from some of the policies, events or ongoing conversations that I’ve helped enact around campus.”

Vining, who won the IVP race last year on a platform of SA reform, said some of her accomplishments as IVP include advocating for academic accommodations for Spring 2020, making sure students could petition parking tickets obtained during move-out last spring and piloting a diversity course that is an expansion of the Critical Thinking in Sexuality course.

“I know the intricate ways of how the SA works and I can identify the challenges that can make the SA ineffective,” Vining said. “Because of my experience in the SA, I understand why these challenges exist. I feel like there are obvious things the SA struggles with, like receiving low student turnout in elections, and then there are issues you only see if you engage intimately with the SA.”

Prchal, a junior at Hanszen, said he decided to run for SA president because of his experience working with other CJs across campus in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve gotten a lot of experience in dealing with potential crises and communicating with people from different parts of campus,” Prchal said. “I think that experience will help me a lot going into the SA to facilitate further communication across campus and address issues the student body is facing.”

Vining said that the SA has found it challenging to engage more students and improve transparency, particularly in the SA Senate. One way Vining said she would improve SA openness is to make the SA Senate agenda a collaborative effort by giving all students access to make suggestions on documents such as the SA Senate slides. 

“I feel like a huge way to make [SA] Senate a space students want to come to is to make the Senate agenda a collaborative effort the entire student body works on. I think that it would be feasible to make the actual senate slides something that students can access,” Vining said. “We would just need to make sure we have the logistics in place to make sure we don’t have trolls going on there.”

Vining said that the SA Senate meetings under her term could focus less on a formal discussion of legislation and more on coming up with solutions to campus issues. 

“I feel like if we approach [SA] Senate [by asking,] ‘What is an ongoing discussion on campus that students care about?’ … that would not only incentivize more people to come but also get more people excited about the SA,” Vining said. “We should be able to use [SA] Senate as a time … to come up with solutions to issues.”

Prchal said he felt it was important to advocate for students who have had nontraditional experiences at Rice, such as transfer students. Prchal said he ran for SA president because the role would let him communicate with a wider range of students. 

“I got to hear about a transfer student’s academic experience over O-Week, which was really different from my academic experience over O-Week,” Prchal said. “The reason I specifically chose to run for president is because I believe it will allow me to have more reach to communicate with a broader base of student groups and student leaders and college presidents.”

Prchal said that SA communication could be improved by working with campus leaders to ensure everyone is on the same page. 

“There are a lot of great resources on the SA website, such as ‘here are the 10 things that Anna Margaret [Clyburn, the current SA president], did this week’,” Prchal said. “And you can read through and go ‘wow, that’s really cool’, but if you don’t know that it’s there you’re not going to get the information.”

Vining said that anti-racism has been something she has been heavily involved with during the past year and that she will continue to advocate for Black students. As SA President, Vining said she will bring attention to events hosted by the Black Student Association and the diversity committee. 

“I’m going to be making sure that if there is an event that BSA is holding that is super important that would help not just Black students but also non-Black students to improve their knowledge. I’m going to plug that in the emails that I send out to the undergraduate student body,” Vining said. “I feel like Rice needs someone like me, who is not only going to address this conversation and this discussion, but who actively applies it in everyday life as a Black woman.”

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