Although LSU Student Government presidential candidate Andrew Arata and vice presidential candidate Russell Wilder are running on a ticket without other candidates or official supporters, they feel that prioritizing the outcomes of their initiatives is more important than making a ticket look good.
Arata, a political science junior and assistant director of SG’s athletics department, said the role of the SG president is to be a servant to the student body and implement initiatives that help all students, rather than just making decisions that paint the University in a better light.
“I agree optics matter because we don’t want our University to look bad, but when you make your primary focus of policies optics and how it looks to the outside, you sort of lose focus on what [you are] actually doing for the students,” Arata said.
Wilder, a mass communication junior and president of the Phi Eta Sigma academic service fraternity, said their ticket is small because they do not want to promise executive spots to students before they get elected. Wilder and Arata said they want to make sure they interview and appoint the best, most qualified students — not just students who support their campaign.
They have already drafted several initiatives and bills. All five candidates have initiatives with similar themes, but Arata and Wilder said they have the experience and facts to back their initiatives up.
“It comes down to who has the specific plans ready to go [and] ready to implement with the will, the drive [and] the heart to carry them through,” Arata said.
If elected, they hope to establish a diversity council composed of the students who are presidents of all the campus international associations. Arata, who has served as the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity’s judicial chairman, has experience drafting governing documents that will help him accomplish such goals.
Wilder has written 14 initiatives to help students with disabilities.
“I’m part of the disabled body community on campus, and our voices are not heard,” Wilder said.
Wilder and Arata said the University is not an ADA-accessible campus, but SG can help improve conditions for disabled students.
“While Student Government cannot officially make the buildings ADA-accessible, there’s a lot of things that they can do to make it easier for disabled body people to actually have a good Tiger experience,” Wilder said.
The candidates have also created several initiatives involving campus safety that they said surpass telling students to download the LSU Shield App, the University’s official safety app.
“We want to focus on actual policies that are free and widely available to all students to help improve campus safety [and] to help improve knowledge and educate the students about how to remain safe,” Arata said.
Arata said that although LSUPD did a good job quickly responding to calls when incidents involving female students occurred on campus in January, the dismissal of some claims made students feel unsafe, which inhibits their ability to focus on their studies.
“We want to not just provide opportunities for students to literally be safe, but to also feel safer and have the comfort and security of this University being a place where you can come and you don’t have to worry,” Arata said.
They also hope to pass initiatives and bills to improve campus life. Wilder has lived on campus since his freshman year, and he said since the University is a home for many students, residential buildings need to be kept in the best conditions possible.
“We want to make it a place where people feel comfortable, are happy living and have an ease of life,” Arata said.
Arata said students should analyze the candidates themselves, rather than just their tickets.
“Go candidate by candidate, not ticket by ticket, and determine who is the most qualified for each position,” Arata said. “Look at the names, not the slogan next to it.”
Students can follow @aratawilder2019 on Instagram to learn more about the campaign and candidates.
The SG debate will be at 7 p.m. on March 12 in the LSU Student Union Magnolia Room, and the five presidential candidates and their respective vice presidents will speak.