By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer
Student government elections for internal and external vice president are coming up on April 8 and 9. It’s time to meet the candidates.
External Vice President
There are three candidates for EVP: Hoffman Estates, Ill., junior Zach Tufenkjian, South Riding, Va., sophomore Reagan Dupler and Austin sophomore Hunter Walker.
Tufenkjian has served on Student Government for three years in the executive branch. He said his past roles have been the Title IX policy committee, director of Student Government policy and attorney general.
“Working in Student Government the past three years has been really the honor of my life … because I’ve gotten to serve so many students,” Tufenkjian said. “I’ve gotten to work on so many different issues, but at the same time, have also been able to see where our strengths are in Student Government and where our weaknesses are. While the external vice president’s office has made strides in past years, … I think that there’s still a long way to go. In all the positions I’ve had in student government … I’ve worked to really reform the offices and leave it better than how I found it. It would be no different for the external vice president’s office.”
Tufenkjian said his main goal is to rejuvenate the student body during the transition out of the pandemic.
“We still have a lot of vaccinations to go and the coronavirus is not going to necessarily go away, but I do think that the student organizations will need a lot of help getting back to normalcy,” Tufenkjian said. “The COVID-19 pandemic also exposed a lot of inequities within our system at Baylor and really, across the country and around the world that we need to address. I think the external vice president’s office is a perfect venue for that and can really be resourceful in that realm because of the way it interacts with student organizations and the student body itself.”
Tufenkjian said his platform includes his three pillars of empathy: equity for all student populations on campus, support for student organizations post-COVID and proven and experienced advocacy for students.
“I think I’m the best quality and most qualified candidate for this position given my experience, given the fact I’ve been here in the executive branch all three years, seeing how it works, seeing outbreaks and seeing where it needs to be improved,” Tufenkjian said. “I think that’s very valuable and needed for the position, especially with all of the key responsibilities they’ll have to deal with next year.”
Dupler said she has worked in the external vice president’s office her freshman and sophomore year as the director of organization and engagement.
“I joined Student Government because I thought it was a great opportunity to serve our student body,” Dupler said. “For me, that’s what Student Government is all about, is a chance to give back to the community that we have here. I think that the position of external vice president has a really unique opportunity to do that, that I’ve gotten to see over the last couple of years of getting to both engage with our students, but also bring that beyond with engaging the Waco community and others hope and getting to broaden how we can grow as a community on campus and off campus.”
Dupler said her platform points are civility, service and community.
“One of the big parts of the office of the external vice president is engaging with the local community,” Dupler said. “I think that our students have a desire, but just don’t always know how to do that or where they can best get plugged in. So, I’d like to work to find ways that we can make those service opportunities more easily accessible for students to be able to partner directly with the Waco community.”
Dupler said it’s important for people to vote because Student Government is here to make the Baylor experience better for students.
“Our job is to make your experience as best as we can, and find ways that we can be helping you get engaged in the community and get engaged on campus,” Dupler said. “So your voice matters. If we’re not here for you, then it’s not worth anything. I’m running because I want to serve the student body, and I will be 100% committed to listening to your voices and remaining as committed and passionate as I have over the last two years to accomplish these goals and find ways to get you plugged in.”
Walker is currently a student senator and said this is his first year serving on Student Government.
“I spent a lot of time my freshman year out in the Baylor population, just spending time with students, but also serving with Mission Waco, My Brother’s Keeper, just organizations in the greater Waco area,” Walker said. “After getting on Student Government sophomore year, I realized … that my college experience is about more than just myself and that Baylor students truly have an opportunity to affect real change that stems beyond just their individual focus. I want to use the office of external vice president to really push the rest of the Baylor community to have that same recognition and to really make a change, not just for Baylor, but also for Waco and beyond.”
Walker said if he is elected as EVP, he wants to focus on mutually beneficial service.
“Service is something not only encouraged biblically, but also I believe that there’s real power behind it,” Walker said. “When someone is doing service, they recognize that there’s also something that they can take away from it. So I think just imparting an attitude, a cultural change of a heart for service would be my initial priority.”
Walker said he is the most prepared to take on this role because of his experience with service in Waco and his time as a senator.
“I want to communicate to the Baylor students … that we have a challenge to go and make disciples,” Walker said. “Discipleship requires relationship building. So that’s why my slogan is ‘Walk with Walker,’ because I am promoting the idea that we need to walk with people to engage with them, to relate with them and to grow with them. My hope is that Baylor students would vote for me because they see the need to grow in relationship and community with one another, to be unified with one another as we seek to really flourish as an entire community all together.”
Internal Vice President
Flower Mound junior Katy Crawford is the only candidate for IVP.
Crawford said she has served in the Student Senate for the past two years, and she wants to set a tone of unity and efficiency in Student Senate next semester.
Crawford also said she wants to empower strong student voices on campus.
“Any student is actually allowed to write a bill,” Crawford said. “All they need is an active sitting senator to sponsor it. So I think we should give students the accessibility to do that … and help them in the process.”
Crawford said to make it more accessible, she wants to create a page on the student government website to help pair students who want to write a bill with a sitting senator.
“I think there needs to just be a direct form of communication. So increasing student body wide emails, but also just having that accessible from the website as a forum, which would be a simple change, and hopefully, show students that we actually want to involve them in this process, not take over their ideas, but support them in what they’re trying to accomplish.”
Voting takes place from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on the student government website.