Riding a bike from Seattle to San Francisco taught Curtis Cohen how to have a step-by-step process, which is something he will take with him into his ASWSU presidential campaign.
“I wasn’t going to get to San Francisco in one day, but it was more of an accumulation of steps by steps,” Cohen said. “The end goal was the Golden Gate Bridge. For the campaign, it’s winning the election.”
Cohen, junior finance major, will have Sean Doster, second-year public relations and crisis communication double major, as his running mate.
Cohen was a member of the 48th ASWSU Senate last year. He said his motivation to run for president was so he could be in a position to have hands-on change.
Running mates Curtis Cohen, President, and Sean Doster, Vice President, discuss how they want to improve the relationships between ASWSU Executives, Senators, and students at WSU on Tuesday afternoon in the Reunion. | CAROLYNN CLAREY
“For me, it was to be more of an advocate for students,” Cohen said.
Doster said running with Cohen gave him the opportunity to step into a leadership role on campus. Although he had participated in many leadership events in high school, he had yet to do so at WSU.
“I kind of decided that it was time to change,” he said. “It was time for me to step up and do something bigger than myself again.”
The two met through their fraternity, Phi Kappa Sigma. Doster said they did not become close until about a month and a half ago.
Cohen said Doster volunteered to run with him after he got the election packet and was searching for a running mate.
He said Doster handles the analytical side of the campaign while he works on building and maintaining relationships around WSU and Pullman.
Their experience living in a fraternity brings benefits to their campaign, Cohen said. Greek life contains a wide variety of students they can approach for insight.
However, that does not mean they will only turn to Greek Row to get a pulse of the student body, Cohen said.
“One thing we want to focus on is expanding beyond Greek life and looking into those groups that aren’t really represented as much,” he said. “[Such as] those smaller clubs on campus that might only have four people, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not important.”
Doster said they have both also had experience governing over their fraternity and making daily business decisions for a big organization. Cohen was the vice president of Phi Kappa Sigma last term and Doster is currently the treasurer.
They said their campaign will focus on improving the communication between ASWSU and the student body on campus. One of the challenges with their campaign is informing students an election is happening, Doster said.
“We’ve walked around and have asked people if they know what ASWSU is,” Cohen said. “It’s surprising how many people don’t know what their own student government is.”
He said this is not the fault of the students, but rather the fault of a lack of advertisement and social media presence within ASWSU.
Part of the reason that problem exists is due to executive department issues over the last year, Doster said. He cited recent staffing issues in the communications department of ASWSU.
“They resigned, but then they didn’t want to resign and then they came back,” Doster said. “The biggest thing for ASWSU is cleaning up all the internal things and putting together a good team of students from all around campus that Curtis and I don’t just happen to be friends with.”
With a good team, they would like to work with the university and city of Pullman to build projects that stand the test of time, Cohen said. To do that, they will need to create good working relationships with administration at WSU and the city to build upon their projects after their time in office.
“We’ll only be here for a year, but administration will be here for 10-20 years,” Cohen said. “When we graduate, we don’t want our projects to go away.”
Cohen said it took him until this year to find out there was an Indonesian organization at WSU. As someone who is half Indonesian, he said he wishes that was something he knew about in his freshman year.
“It’s great being in Pullman, but at the same time while this is home, I also want to get a sense of home from my own culture,” he said.
Cohen hopes he can help students avoid the type of experience he had by finding clubs and organizations they can identify with early on, he said.
“You matter, regardless of where you’re from,” Cohen said. “The diversity that each person brings here on campus is something that is ultimately a strength.”
Individuals can follow their campaign @cohendosterforaswsu on Instagram.
ASWSU will hold a multicultural debate March 5 and a general election debate March 7.
Hope, community, authenticity and inclusion are values an ASWSU presidential and vice-presidential candidate team plans to build their campaign on.
Kylie Waddill, senior majoring in human development, is running for ASWSU president. Alongside her, Donavyn Velez-Fucal, junior double majoring in business and sports management, is running for ASWSU vice-president.
Waddill is a first-generation college student from Tacoma, Wash. When she came to WSU, she was excited to connect with the Cougar community.
However, it was difficult due to her struggle with depression and anxiety. She said she feels more connected now and wants to leave a better legacy for other students.
Living in a diverse community in Tacoma influenced how she wants to make an impact as ASWSU president. Waddill said she wants to highlight people’s differences and use that to maximize their strengths.
“I think focusing on those reciprocal relationships that community offers can really bring a lot more to the student experience,” Waddill said.
Since fall 2018, Waddill has served as the public relations chair for ASWSU Give which is a community service committee. She said her work with the committee motivated her to lead with her values: authenticity, inclusiveness and connecting people.
“I am pretty loud and proud, but I still struggle,” Waddill said. “[Students] need someone who can represent them authentically and acknowledge all the struggles that we do face day-to-day as students.”
She also serves in the social media committee for the College Hill Association. It is a non-profit that works to preserve the College Hill neighborhood.
Velez-Fucal is a Filipino-American, second-generation Coug. He was born in Pullman and is from Lacey, WA. He said he is running with Waddill to help unite the communities here in WSU by using the resources available on campus.
He said he hopes to uplift everyone with his “selfless and energetic” spirit and help promote positive changes and growth for students, which is one of the reasons he became involved with student government.
Since last spring, Velez-Fucal has been the ASWSU senator for the Carson College of Business. He has been involved with the Carson College Library, which is currently under development.
With this initiative, a library would be developed at the Carson Center in Todd Hall, he said. Students can check out the College of Business’ UCORE textbooks for free and use it within the vicinity. It aims to help those who cannot afford to buy or rent textbooks.
“The skills that we’ve learned from this position, working in teams, representing people that usually don’t have a say or are underrepresented,” he said. “Just representing people overall has been a great time.”
Waddill said she and Velez-Fucal are a strong team because their different attributes harmonize with one another. These attributes include Velez Fucal’s multicultural background and Waddill’s residential Greek experience.
Their campaign is called H.O.P.E, which stands for: healthy mind and body, opportunities, people-oriented and environment.
For healthy mind and body, Waddill said they plan to start a certificate program that will acknowledge students’ efforts for taking care of their health. They also want to develop an Alive program, which will focus on self-care and how it affects a student’s education.
Under opportunities, they want to create a system where student involvement is better tracked, she said. They also plan to find new engaging ways to get students more involved on campus and create ways for students’ involvement to become better highlighted on resumes.
Miscommunication between the different ASWSU branches has been an issue, Velez-Fucal said. Waddill said an important aspect of this is ensuring communication across all ASWSU committees and other organizations on campus so groups can support one another.
Velez-Fucal said they want their campaign to be people-oriented. To do this, they plan to support a Surplus Food Notification, which has already begun. Students receive notifications about excess food during events. This helps reduce food waste and helps students get free food.
“If we’re going to round it back up to healthy body, healthy mind, people need food in their body and energy to process the information we’re learning in college every day,” Velez-Fucal said.
They are also looking at developing a tenant association which will help students live off campus by helping them understand contracts. Waddill said there is a local landlord association that strategically works to take advantage of students who rent.
She said they plan to work with the Environmental Sustainability Alliance to establish sustainability projects. They also want to develop more service opportunities on campus relating to the environment and educate people about recycling.
“A lot of times we think of community service as us going into the community, but I think that we’re one here, too,” Waddill said.
They can be followed @HOPEforASWSU on Facebook and Instagram.
ASWSU will hold a multicultural debate March 5 and a general election debate March 7. General election voting will open March 10-11.