LSU Student Government executive candidates Nalo Zidan and Ethan Hunter are running on "The Time is Now" ticket and hope to shift the University's culture so students comprising all demographics and identities feel empowered.
Both candidates openly identify as queer and have made diversity a priority of their platform.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran and presidential candidate Zidan, a women’s and gender studies junior, said she has traveled the world teaching people how to see others and has advocated on the behalf of women, minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.
“I’m fearless,” Zidan said. “I don’t think there’s any other candidate that is thinking about the different intersections of different demographics on this campus [more] than I [am].”
Hunter is the Office of Multicultural Affair’s LGBTQ+ project’s graduate assistant, a position that allows him to see the power of students.
“The same energy that we put into fighting for LGBTQ students or students of color is the same energy that we would put into fighting for any white student or normative student or [heterosexual] student who [seeks help],” Hunter said.
Zidan said she and Hunter will serve the students and always be available as part of their commitment to increased access to leadership. She said she thinks too many students currently don’t know there is a student body president despite how important it is for leaders to be visible to students.
Neither Zidan nor vice presidential candidate Hunter, a first-year communication studies master’s student, have been members of LSU SG. However, Hunter served as a senator and held executive positions at Augusta University for four years before graduating with a political science degree. He said he has experience writing governing documents, and he created the judicial branch of Augusta’s Student Government.
Hunter said when students face discrepancies with professors or administration, he and Zidan will stand up for students, but they also want to empower students so they are confident enough to stand up for themselves.
“I just want people to be able to see us doing these things as student body president and vice president and know they can do that, too,” Hunter said.
They said they plan to teach students how to hold professors accountable to ensure fair grading, acceptable classroom conduct and respect for students. Zidan said some syllabi are not aligned with the University’s policies that allow students to make up work they missed while absent if they have excuses.
“Students need to know they’re the most powerful entity on campus and that the University needs to continue to facilitate a safe place where they can be with that power,” Zidan said.
Zidan and Hunter said they have already began drafting a budget for SG to allocate funds to areas that will benefit students the most. They said the SG president receives a stipend of $4,000 and the vice president receives $3,000 each term, and part of that payment should go toward directly helping students.
They said they have also analyzed the student fee bill and said there should be more transparency about how funds are being spent.
“If there’s a student excellence fee, I need to know how it’s serving me, what it’s done for me historically and what [it will] continue to do in the future,” Zidan said.
Zidan said she wants to create an annual open forum where administrators explain to students exactly where their money is going. She said if funds are not being properly or efficiently used, students should potentially be refunded.
Another central component of the campaign is considering more accommodations for students. This includes expanding mental health resources, increasing the size of the bathrooms in Lockett Hall, fostering greater support for students with invisible disabilities and broadening accommodations from the Office of Disability Services to meet the needs of more students.
They want to increase campus safety by creating a more well-lit campus, holding LSUPD accountable for any shortcomings and getting emergency blue phones that automatically dial emergency numbers when picked up. Zidan said the phones are numerous at other universities, including Tulane University. The candidates want students to always be able to see the large blue lights on the phones everywhere on campus.
Zidan said students can always bring their concerns to Hunter and her.
“Whatever [students] need, we’ll get it done,” Zidan said. “We’re not saying we’ll try and hopefully can — we’re saying we will.”
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.