As the 2021-22 academic school year comes to a close, elections for the ASM Student Council are in full swing. The primary elections were held in late March to determine which students will sit on the council, which is made up of 33 elected members who work in legislative positions as the voice of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
However, the role of ASM Chair, which comes with a number of responsibilities, has yet to be decided.
Junior Steven Shi, sophomore Ndemazea Fonkem and junior Maxwell Laubenstein are all running for the position.
“It’s like a moderator during the [student council] meetings, and it’s also the representation of the entire ASM,” Shi said. “We talk with university administrators and the legislature about things that we are considering.”
The position requires a lot of work with both students, staff and university employers in order to create a cohesive environment at Madison. Shi has many goals that he plans to accomplish if elected, most of which are for the direct benefit of students themselves. With a goal to raise the student minimum wage on campus, Shi hopes to see the plan for a $15 minimum wage go through for the 2022-23 school year.
“The $15 minimum wage … that question is authored by me, and I want to see that go through,” he said. “I already talked [about] segregated fees funding some employers like Union, RecWell, [etc].”
Shi also hopes to create a more inclusive space for all students at Madison, including international students. An international student himself, Shi would be the first international student elected to this position.
“Being Chair will give me the loudest voice that hasn’t been given to international students for three decades,” Shi told the Cardinal.
Hoping to raise the voices of minority groups on campus, Shi plans to work with the Diversity and Equity Coordinator on the subject. He hopes to create a space of diversity that addresses all minority groups, hoping to increase the sense of equity and equality across campus.
“I find that the past practice of diversity and inclusion has been focused on one or two specific minority groups so much that it neglected other minority groups, like Jewish students, international students,” he said. “What I envision is the kind of diversity and inclusion that addresses everyone’s problem, not just one or two specific groups.”
Sophomore Charlie Fahey is campaigning for Vice Chair to work alongside Shi, hoping to play a major role in making changes for students on campus and helping their voices be heard.
“[As] Vice Chair, unlike a lot of other roles, you really get to define what you want to do,” he said “There’s some basic responsibilities, but it gives me the freedom to pursue causes that I really care about.”
If elected, Fahey has a variety of goals that he wants to accomplish in order to help Madison become a more tight-knit community. With a focus on making sure each student has a voice and is able to express their opinions freely, Fahey said he wants to create a place where “... any student, even if they’re not on the student council, can feel free to come to our meetings and express themselves.”
Fonkem is also running for ASM Chair, with a focus on both inclusion and monetary adjustments. Like Shi and Fahey, Fonkem also supports the push for a $15 minimum wage, as well as an adjustment to student housing.
In her campaign declaration, Fonkem states that she wants to “advocate for more affordable student housing options, including the expansion of student cooperative housing like Zoe Bayliss.” With an emphasis on campus inclusion, she also plans to “cultivate community cohesion and belonging for all students.”
As chair, Laubenstein believes he could push ASM forward by supporting every student representative.
“Every day in ASM has been a learning experience for me and the clearest thing that I have learned is that this organization is strongest when its members support each other,” he stated in his campaign declaration.
Fonkem and Laubenstein did not respond to interview requests from The Daily Cardinal.
The ASM Chair and Vice Chair for the 2022-23 academic school year will be announced on Sunday, April 24.