Elections for USG run Thursday, Friday

Meet your presidential and vice presidential candidates

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Brittany Arp – President

By Andrew Brinker

Submitted | Megan Ortego

Brittany Arp is running for USG president to finish what she started. As current vice president, Arp has worked closely with President Kaylee Kearns and the executive cabinet to lay strong groundwork for USG that she hopes will last for years.

“I thought that I could really take what we’ve started this year, and run with it,” Arp said.  “Our vision for this year was to lay a foundation for every future administration, because coming into it – Kaylee and I – we kind of almost had to pick up the organization and build it from the ground up.”

Arp, a sophomore political science and legal studies double major, has been serving on USG since her first semester. She initially served as a senator for the School of Arts and Sciences and was on the Rules Committee. Arp says that her experience in USG makes her the perfect presidential candidate.

“I’ve been through all of the decisions that have been made this year, so, I can see what was successful, and what failed. I have the ability to look back at the conversations that we have had when things failed, and I can use that to my advantage to make sure that we don’t fail the same way we did before,” Arp said.

Alongside improving campus security and expanding commuter resources, Arp plans to open all executive cabinet meetings, a move that comes after pushback to the closure of those meetings this year.

“At the time that we made that choice, we didn’t understand how the student body would react,” Arp said. “But looking back, I can  totally understand why the student body would question us. So next year I look forward to continuing that change.”

Ultimately, Arp believes that it is her dedication to USG that sets her apart.

“This is something that I’m really passionate about,” Arp said. “I’m really passionate about this organization and this organization’s mission. I have been tirelessly working for the student body throughout this entire year, and I think that really shows.”

 

Jake Berlin – President

By Jordyn Hronec

Photo by Ian Brady

Presidential candidate, Jake Berlin, is looking to bring a new sense of openness to USG, following a year of transparency struggles.

“The basis of the campaign is openness,” Berlin said. “I will always be open, available to talk to. Every meeting will be open. You’ll see me around, we’ll be able to communicate. I will be at club meetings. And it will finally be a president who is present on campus.”

Berlin, a junior mass communications major, has served a total of four semesters on USG as a senator, on both the Communications and the Rules Committees. Berlin also has extensive experience serving on the Wilmington Area School Board. Berlin is also state-certified in budget and audit training through the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. Berlin represents Point Park on the Pittsburgh Student Government Council.

He cites his desire for change as his main reason for joining the race.

“I did not go into this year planning on running for president,” Berlin said. “I did so after I saw that secrets were being kept, minutes were being redacted, meetings were being held in private…I thought that I would be a fighter for the students, everyday I’d be in office, and make sure that we are focused on commuters, and minorities, and those with disabilities, those in COPA, those who feel like they don’t have a voice or are left behind.”

Berlin’s campaign also focuses on numerous other proposed changes.

“The short term goal would be to immediately bring back the Playhouse tickets,” Berlin said. “One of the best gestures that we had for students, especially for our performers, was allowing those tickets to be subsidized. We replaced the Playhouse tickets with a bike program that costs more but is used less. The long term goal would be expanding the commuter resources in terms of affordable parking, affordable bus passes and retaining the shuttles, because that was a promise that was made to students on enrollment here, and I believe we need to fulfill that.”

 

Sophie Burkholder -Vice President

By Dara Collins

Submitted | Megan Ortego

Sophie Burkholder served as one of the drum majors for her school marching band. She now hopes to translate her leadership from marching band to Point Park’s United Student Government (USG).

The political science and legal studies double major has been a member of USG since the fall 2018 semester. She served as a senator representing the School of Arts and Sciences, on Finance Committee and now serves as the Chair of Student Concerns Committee and as the Recording Secretary.

“Being Recording Secretary, very specifically, is you have a share of the Students Concerns Committee and I feel very strongly with helping people and wanting to continue pursuing that quality and defend the students…I think that’s the main thing that really drove me to want to run for vice president,” Burkholder said. “I’m able to pursue this and I want that to be my main priority – student interaction.”

Burkholder hopes to address shuttle concerns for commuters and security in campus dormitories. Burkholder, shy and reserved, hopes all students, especially those like herself know they can approach her with any and all concerns.

As a freshman, Burkholder admits she made mistakes during her time in USG.

“[I] don’t let [mistakes] hinder me,” Burkholder said. “I feel as though as a leader you need to have a quality of not being ashamed to admit that you’ve done wrong and move forward from it…I think that is a quality that I possess that I’m very proud of.”

However, Burkholder also believes her freshman status constitutes plenty of room to grow in a new position of power.

“That can sound kind of off, but I think going into the position I don’t put myself out there saying I know everything it has to take, I know what needs to be done,” Burkholder said. “I’m going into it because I want to learn and grow.”

 

Alexa Lake – Vice President

By Dara Collins

Submitted | Megan Ortego

In light of recent scrutiny, Alexa Lake could not think of a better time to announce her vice presidential campaign.

“I think [United Student Government] is turning a new leaf right now with the scrutiny that it’s being placed under,” Lake said. “I think that it’s growing very rapidly and it’s getting notoriety.”

Lake, a sophomore biological sciences major, has been a member of USG since the fall 2018 semester. She currently serves on the Finances and Rules Committees, but she is ready to bring her philosophies of transparency, consistency and honesty to the role of vice president.

“I started with honesty because I think that flaws and conflict must be highlighted, not just made public,” Lake said. “Then I thought, well, honesty is not lying…you can withhold information without lying, which is why I added transparency to it. And lastly, with my experience on rules committee where we approve clubs and our finance committee where we fund them, consistency is very important for our students who use us as a channel to question university administration.”

With these three words as the backbone of her campaign as well as her previous experience, Lake believes in her ability to transform USG.

Within USG, Lake wants to change the leadership culture and avoid the “smile and nod approach” of past vice presidents, ensure everybody at legislative body meetings are informed prior to voting and assure all students their concerns are considered.

Outside of USG, Lake desires to answer student concerns about academic curricula and academic program diversity.

“I’d just to let everybody know that they should consider each candidate, whether me or anybody else, with an open mind, and I want to be elected based on the issues, not based off my friendships,” Lake said.

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