Candidates Halunen and Marecki promise transparency, tuition efforts

Marquette Student Government elections are March 28, and those running are embarking on a final week of campaigning. Drew Halunen, the current legislative vice president for MUSG, and Stephanie Marecki, an off-campus senator, are running for president and vice president of the organization, and are competing against Arica VanBoxtel, the current communications vice president, and Bill Niedhardt, an off-campus senator.

This week, the Tribune sat down with both pairs of candidates to find out why they want to lead MUSG and what their goals for student government’s future are. Today we profile Drew and Stephanie. Check Tuesday’s issue or visit marquettetribune.org for our interview with Arica and Bill.

Why Run?

According to their Facebook campaign page, Halunen and Marecki believe the university is in a “unique position after inaugurating a new president … Fr. Pilarz will be looking to get a better grasp of the diverse student body.”

Marecki said the chance to help students is a great opportunity.

“(MUSG) is one thing on campus I have developed an incredible amount of passion for,” Marecki said. “It’s my livelihood — I love what it stands for. The opportunity to create change and put ideas forward is a great opportunity.”

The two have a combined five-and-a-half years of experience in MUSG. Halunen and Marecki’s platform focuses on a number of issues, including tuition, diversity, student organization assistance and academic transparency.

The Platform: Tuition

The cost to attend Marquette will be higher next year, but Halunen and Mareckisaid they will work to keep tuition prices affordable. The two believe tuition should not stop a student from attending Marquette, and though they realize the university deals with increasing costs each year, they would like to work with the university in taking small steps to stop the increases.

“It’s no ‘cut this’ or ‘cut that,’ but we’d work with them to find small budget lines so that tuition increases in fractional amounts,” Halunen said.

Halunen also said one of the main problems is that financial aid is not increasing at the same rate as tuition.

The Platform: Diversity

If elected, Halunen and Marecki said they would modify the diversity advocate program so it meets the needs of diverse students. The diversity advocate program is made up of administrators who work to provide advocacy for students from underrepresented backgrounds and help faculty become educated on the issues.

They would also advocate for more diverse faculty and administration to help strengthen the diverse culture at Marquette.

“Once administration becomes more diverse, the student body will reciprocate,” Halunen said.

The Platform: Student Life

Halunen and Marecki said they would continue discussions on a proposed health and wellness center and would make sure space for Student Health Service, Disability Services and the Counseling Center is present.

Halunen and Marecki would also push for a bridge between MUSG and student organizations.

Marecki and Halunen plan to assign an MUSG representative for each student organization to answer important questions. They would also have an open program board, with members available to help with event planning through consultations for student organizations. Marecki and Halunen said they would also work to give each student organization its own email address.

“We want to be constantly talking and fulfilling the needs of groups so we don’t miss anything. We want to represent everybody’s voice (and) make us accountable so we wouldn’t be able to ignore any groups accidentally,” Marecki said.

The Platform: Academics

Marecki and Halunen said they would also work for more transparency in academics, including ensuring more information is available on “Snapshot.” Halunen said they would advocate for more D2L usage by professors and student access to the Marquette Online Course Evaluation System (MOCES).

Student advising is another area of concern for the pair.

“In the MUSG survey last year, advising was a problem area students often identified. They couldn’t get enough time or they were not knowledgeable of requirements, which are fundamental problems,” Halunen said.

They would target freshmen and sophomores for more time with advisers so as to avoid students taking on heavy course loads at the end of their undergraduate degrees.

On their opponents

Halunen and Marecki said they are good friends with both VanBoxtel and Neidhardt. Marecki said they have been checking up on one another throughout the campaign.

“The thing to take away is both tickets have mutual respect for each other, and no matter what happens, MUSG is going to get qualified candidates,” Halunen said.