The election Student Government Association’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates will be March 30. Collegian file photo.
SOPHIE CIOKAJLO | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s Student Government Association presidential race is between three tickets. Will Gigerich, a junior criminology major, is running with Miki Kawahara, a junior health sciences major, as his vice president. Paul Ford, a first year entrepreneurship and innovation major, is running with Susanne Howard, a junior international business major, as his vice president. Thomas Dziwlik, a sophomore entrepreneurship and marketing double major, is running with Lauryn Lintner, a sophomore international business and marketing double major, as his vice president. The Collegian spoke with all candidates about their backgrounds and plans for SGA’s future.
Who are they?
Ford is a native Hoosier who is heavily involved with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives on campus. He is the first year communications chair for the Black Student Union, the treasurer for the LGBTQ+ Alliance and the SGA Senator for the Lacy School of Business, as well as a student employee of the Department of Student Involvement and Leadership.
Ford became involved in SGA because he was concerned with the lack of attention given by the University to the Diversity Center and DEI initiatives on campus.
“The way that I see it, the department’s really understaffed and I think a lot of the pressure to make Butler a more inclusive environment falls on the students,” Ford said.
Paul Ford, first-year entrepreneurship and innovation major. Headshots courtesy of SGA.
Howard is from Noblesville and transferred to Butler in 2019. Before transferring, she spent a few years working after she dropped out of arts school in Georgia. In her first semester, Howard was the Lacy School of Business senator. She then went on to serve as academic affairs commissioner and then, DEI commissioner. Howard said being surrounded by other creative students was her inspiration for initially joining SGA.
“I like working with leaders and individuals who like making changes and are like-minded, in a sense of wanting to lead and help others.” Howard said.
Susanne Howard, junior international business major.
Gigerich is an Indianapolis native and has previously worked in the Volunteer Center as the communications coordinator and as education advocacy coordinator. He also worked as a student orientation guide and the finance chair for Butler Alternative Breaks.
Gigerich has served as the Fairview House senator for SGA and was the Speaker of the Senate this past year.
“I felt like there was so much that students were missing out on that the University should be providing,” Gigerich said. “I think that support system is lacking.”
Will Gigerich, junior criminology major.
Kawahara is originally from Hawaii and currently serves as one of two sorority senators in SGA. She has also been on the executive board of Butler University Dance Marathon for the past two years. She was also a SOG and is currently vice president of communications for the Panhellenic Association Executive Board.
Kawahara said she immediately appreciated the welcoming nature of Butler’s campus and wanted to give back to future Butler classes by supporting student organizations on campus.
“I loved how easy it was to make friends at Butler and that made the transition super seamless for me,” Kawahara said. “I felt like being at a smaller school, there were more opportunities to get involved.”
Miki Kawahara, junior health sciences major.
Dziwlik is from Carmel. The third of his siblings to attend Butler, he has nothing but positive things to say about his experience. He was the Irvington House senator for SGA and is currently the academic affairs commissioner. Dziwlik is also a Butler ambassador and has been in charge of organizing Lacy Scholar’s Day.
“There’s always people who ask how are you doing, and actually care about the answer,” Dziwlik said. “And I think that that just encompasses fully what Butler’s about.”
Thomas Dziwlik, sophomore entrepreneurship and marketing double major.
Lintner is currently the vice president of the International Business Organization, director of alumni events in the Butler University Student Foundation, and the chief administrative officer for Kappa Alpha Theta.
“When I came to Butler, someone said to me ‘Butler is a game-changer. It’ll change your life in more ways than you know,’ and I think those words have spoken to my opportunities [at Butler],” Lintner said.
Lauryn Lintner, sophomore international business and marketing double major.
What do they want to accomplish?
Ford said he was inspired to run for president because he was disappointed with the amount of action he saw in SGA.
“I saw a disparity, within results that we were wanting to have and what we actually were working with,” Ford said.
If elected, Ford hopes to create initiatives that leave future generations of Butler students with a better campus experience.
“We want to expand student outreach so that we can unify more students by making the culture more inclusive,” Ford said. “I hope you guys resonate with my platform, and I hope that you’ll vote for me on March 30 so that together we can keep moving ‘fordward.’”
Howard said one of their policy ideas is to create more support systems for students looking at postgraduate plans, specifically for students looking at graduate school opportunities.
“We think it’d be really cool if Butler could take on that cost of either paying for the test or maybe bringing prep courses on campus and paying for those,” Howard said.
Gigerich said it’s important that he and Miki are the only ticket where both candidates experienced a full pre-COVID-19 year at Butler. He also said he sees reopening as a valuable opportunity for structural changes.
“Instead of reopening and getting back to before anything happened, we need to figure out how to try and change,” Gigerich said.
Gigerich wants to increase funding for DEI initiatives as well as increase support for senators to conduct more effective outreach. Another part of Gigerich and Kawahara’s platform is to create an online portal where students can view and comment on SGA legislative and executive action before it is passed.
“There will be a comment period where people are able to express their concerns or support and give the feedback they might have, so everything that we’re doing is actually being done with the student voice, and not just this theoretical student voice,” Gigerich said.
Gigerich and Kawahara also want to get students on the Board of Trustees and implement SGA in the University Chater. Gigerich said this will enable SGA to have more impact, and will prevent administration from shutting down SGA whenever they choose, which is currently possible.
Both Gigerich and Kawahara said they would have liked a student voice on the Board of Trustees when the decision to hold March Madness was made.
“Say we were going to have a problem with it, we couldn’t have done anything because we only found out about it after the contracts were signed and it was happening,” Gigerich said. “Getting students in that room where decisions are being made, I think is most crucial.”
Kawahara said she and Gigerich are considering creating a “Director of Mental Health” or similar position to try to combat some of the issues with Counseling and Consultation Services. She said she thinks it is most important that students begin to receive mental health resources from students rather than administration.
“I think you know perspective matters, and students would feel like they’re receiving it from one of their own,” Kawahara said.
Dziwlik said his biggest goal is making sure SGA reflects student needs and voices and that students feel the impact of SGA on campus.
“I think my driving passion and what I’m most excited about is to be able to do what I already love: talk to people, interact with students, and say, ‘What do you want to change about Butler? Because this is my home and I call it home, but if you don’t feel that way, how can I get you to be able to call it home.’” Dziwlik said.
Lintner said she was very unaware of SGA’s actions on campus before beginning this campaign. She said she wants to change that for future students, giving them access to and understanding of the organization and its value.
“We want to leave our impact on the university, to really allow us to be a part of the campus and leave that positive change,” Lintner said. Awaiting student votes on March 30, all of the candidates said they consider it most important that students do cast their vote, regardless of who they vote for. Students can vote from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on March 30 via SGA’s Butler Engage page.