Editor’s note: The print version of this story was published prior to Janet Nguyen dropping out of the race and uncertainty around Osirus Washington’s campaign. This current version reflects the updated information.
Over the past week, the Minnesota Daily’s Editorial Board interviewed three sets of candidates for Minnesota Student Association president and vice president positions. A fourth set of candidates was not interviewed, as they're not in a practical position to be elected. The Daily will not be endorsing candidates in the Council of Graduate Students and Professional Student Government races because the leaders of MSA oversee a larger population of the University community.
The goal of this endorsement is to recommend candidates who are able to navigate the complex infrastructure of the University of Minnesota while elevating the student voice. The president and vice president of MSA are at the forefront of improving student experiences and education; therefore, candidates should display knowledge of University functions and have an outlined vision for their term.
As students at the University, it’s important to exercise your right to vote in these elections. The president and vice president of MSA have the ability to push campus-wide initiatives, bring student body needs to the attention of administrators and Legislators and ensure student voices are present at high levels of the University. It’s important to elect candidates with a viable platform who have the well-being of the University in mind.
Mina Kian and Jael Kerandi
Mina Kian and Jael Kerandi have the experience, expertise and excitement we believe is necessary to represent the study body in a effective and comprehensive way.
Kian and Kerandi have both accumulated considerable experience in MSA. Kian currently serves as MSA's vice president and previously served as co-chair of the sexual assault task force. Kerandi is a member of MSA's Diversity and Inclusion Committee and was subcommittee chair of the sexual assault task force last year. We believe this experience has provided them with the abilities to pursue new initiatives and continue laying the groundwork for long-term goals that cannot be realized in single term.
We also believe an incredibly important aspect of the job is the ability to work effectively with University administrators, regents and state legislators. Kian and Kerandi have previously established relationships with many of these leaders through previous and current work with MSA. These relationships will ensure a continued line of communication to campus decision-makers. We feel the student voice is integral to these conversations, and Kian and Kerandi will make sure it's heard.
Lastly, we feel Kian and Kerandi have passion that will drive them to push new initiatives, advocate for students typically without a voice and bring enthusiasm to work that is often tedious and exhausting.
Some initiatives the duo are spearheading made us excited, like their sustainability plans that include expanding composting efforts and implementing environmental justice education. This is in addition to increasing access to affordable food and housing options, as well as a continued emphasis on mental health advocacy. We encourage readers to check out their website to learn more about their platform.
Spencer Kleinschmidt and August Schutz
Spencer Kleinschmidt and August Schutz are new to student politics at the University, but are dedicated to ensuring that students feel more connected to making change on campus. They want to use their unique perspective from outside student government to give students in similar situations a voice. Much like their opponents, Kleinschmidt and Schutz want to focus on students' access to quality food resources. They also support decreasing and freezing tuition rates for students.
We appreciated their want to hold town meetings where students can directly speak with MSA leaders. We believe making an effort to truly connect with students is important and is a strong point of their campaign.
Osirus Washington and Janet Nguyen
MSA presidential candidate Osirus Washington and his former running mate Janet Nguyen were strong candidates until concerns were raised about Washington’s social media. In his posts, he wrote: “do you get bad karma for having an abortion?” This created discussion in the post's comments section that concerned the board.
Nguyen publicly stated she’s withdrawn from the race, while it’s unclear if Washington is still running.
Before Sunday’s incident, we commended their platform as they were strong candidate who didn't climb the ranks of MSA. We don’t believe they should be elected to the top leadership positions, as candidate divisions and controversial social media posts have emerged.
A note on our endorsement process
Daily employees outside the editorial board were not involved in the decision process. The separation between the newsroom and editorial board is deep. Nothing is communicated between the two entities regarding student government elections or newsworthy matters.
The four members of the Daily's editorial board are Kelly Busche, the Daily's editor-in-chief and a journalism and political science senior; Ellen Schneider, the Daily's editorial and opinions editor and a senior studying political science and journalism; Ariana Wilson, a senior studying journalism with a media studies minor and Hailey Almsted, a journalism senior with a minor in public health.
Our goal of the endorsements is to recommend candidates based on fair evaluations. It is our opinion that readers should vote according to our recommendation. We understand everyone won't agree with our views, so we welcome comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of the article misstated Kian and Kerandi's current positions on the sexual assault task force. Kerandi was subcommittee chair of the sexual assault task force last year, and Kian previously served as co-chair of the sexual assault task force.