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Bunting, Franklin vie for Student Association Presidency

Illustration by Ndidi Nwosu

By Hajera Naveed     2/15/22 11:13pm

Madison Bunting, current Student Association internal vice president, and Gabrielle Franklin, current Brown College SA senator, are the two candidates running for Student Association president this year. 

Bunting said her platform emphasizes people over policy and that her main goal is to increase awareness of and accessibility to the Student Association.

“For me, it matters more that I am encouraging and empowering other people to make a difference, than that I specifically am able to pursue certain goals, because the SA makes a broader impact when everyone in it is intrinsically motivated to do the work,” Bunting, a junior at Martel College, said. “You don’t necessarily have that if the person in charge of the organization is trying to mandate … what we’re going to work on.”

Bunting said she decided to run because her past involvement in the SA has shown her what it can do and the areas in which it needs to grow. Aside from IVP, Bunting was involved in SA as the co-chair of the academics committee. 

“I think I am the best person that can help create some of that change and help the SA become something that actually makes a difference across campus,” Bunting said. 

Franklin said she witnessed a deprivation of student knowledge, rights and resources across campus, which inspired her to run for president. She said that her previous roles in the SA, as  allow her to realize its issues and how to address them.

“After participating in the work of my cohort, I understand where these weaknesses are and the changes that my [peers] wanted to make and were unable to, and I want to fix these issues not only for them but for those that follow and the whole of campus that is affected by these shortcomings,” Franklin, a sophomore at Brown College, said.

According to Franklin, the biggest issues facing students now are a lack of accountability by the administration and student leaders, a reduction of student agency and a loss of transparency in SA functions. She said that there also is a lack of inclusivity of marginalized communities on campus that must be addressed. 

“I want to increase racial, LGBTQ and FGLI resources, run destigmatization campaigns on gender, sexuality, sexual health and mental health, increase student access to food and academic resources, and create greater recognition and allowances for mental health and eating disorders as a start,” Franklin said.

Bunting said her priorities as president would be informed by what she has noticed students care most about. She said that based on her conversations with students these priorities are high-quality academics, career resources and wellbeing.

“Those are the things that I’ve heard the most from students, but my platform is dynamic and flexible because, for me, it’s not about the specific issues that I see,” Bunting said. “It’s about empowering people, because everybody is focused on their own issues … because that’s who we are.”

Bunting said she wants to focus on making sure everyone feels comfortable voicing their opinion at Senate. She said that as president she would add QR codes to each Senate slide with a link to an anonymous feedback form so that students have ample opportunity to give feedback.

“There have been times that I have perceived that there are students who tried to talk or wanted to talk, and didn’t have a designated position in the SA, and they didn’t end up getting to voice their concerns,” Bunting said. “And often their perspective was contrary to [the popular opinion].”

Franklin said she believes a large barrier towards engaging with the SA is the knowledge and bureaucracy that needs to be engaged with to work on student solutions to campus issues. She said she would prioritize better communications with the student body to mitigate this barrier. 

“To help mitigate this, I am working on a guide for SA advocacy and informal student advocacy and revamping our digital outreach by redesigning our website and Canvas page, providing live updates and previous materials in full, and normalizing attending Senate and communicating with SA members for students starting with Orientation-Week and campus-wide events over my term,” Franklin said. 

 Voting in the SA elections opens Feb. 23 at 12 p.m. and closes March 2 at 12 p.m. 

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