The campaign for the new University of Maine Student Government (UMSG) executives got underway last week. Bentley Simpson, a third-year marine science student and Harrison Ransley, a second-year economics and political science student, are the candidates for president while Chase Flaherty, a second-year mechanical engineering student, is running uncontested for vice president.
Simpson currently serves as the vice president of Student Government and he’s been involved as a senator since the fall of his first year at UMaine.
As a senator, Simpson served as the sergeant at arms, the liaison of services and auxiliaries and a student representative in the Faculty Senate. Simpson cites one of his favorite things about his roles with Student Government as the sense of camaraderie and working relationships he has built along the way.
In addition to Student Government, Simpson is a brother of Alpha Tau Omega where he serves as the public relations chair, and he tutors for the Marine Science Department.
Harrison Ransley has also been a part of Student Government since his first month of coming to UMaine. He said that he wanted to be a part of the organization right away.
“People talk about their fraternity or sorority as pivotal in their college experience for relationships, personal development and service,” Ransley said. “When people say that, I think of Student Government as that type of organization for me. It’s full of great people.”
Outside of his position as a senator in Student Government, Ransley is also a member of the Green Team, Tango Club and the new Dungeons and Dragons Club. He said that during his time in Student Government, he has sat on most of the organization’s committees.
One of the most significant committees on which Ransley has served is the Student Conduct Code Oversight and Review Committee (SCCORC), which he currently chairs. He also helps draft policy amendments in the Policy and Procedure Committee, represents students on the Faculty Senate, offers recommendations for campus improvements in the Services Committee and works with political clubs to promote voter turnout and political civility on the Political Activism Committee.
Ransley said one of his high priority goals as president would be to successfully amend the Student Conduct Code and to help expand the counseling center at UMaine. This first goal is something he has been working on as a senator this semester, but it might not be done until the fall semester of 2019.
“I believe changes to the code are necessary because some basic rights one would receive outside of the university do not exist within the code,” Ransley said.
The second change is important to Ransley because he feels there needs to be stronger mental health support for those who need it. He believes students should not be afraid to ask for what they need and that Student Government could be more aggressively working for the students on that front.
“Historically speaking just about every bill we send up the chain of command gets rejected,” Ransley said. “Why not change tactics? Our job isn’t to be part of the administration or agreeable with them, it’s to help the students. To be clear I do believe they are trying to help and I do believe the Student Conduct Code gets most cases right. However after investigating there are some pretty reasonable amendments that I think should be implemented after being thoroughly fleshed out in SCCORC”.
Simpson’s platform, on the other hand, is heavily influenced by one goal: making campus feel like more of a community.
“I want to see more campus wide events and ensure all students get their dollars worth,” Simpson said.
Among other things, this platform has stemmed from Simpson’s impression that a lot of clubs hold events off campus. He wants to place more of an emphasis on club fundraising and holding events on campus. Simpson explained some ideas including more workshops, campus projects and a semi-formal event of some sort — all things can be targeted toward students.
“Every student pays the $53 student activity fee and I want to have events for [students] not in clubs,” Simpson said.
He also feels that his time as vice president has given him the inside view on what goes into getting things done in Student Government, in addition to allowing him to build good relationships with UMaine administrators.
“There is a lot of bureaucracy that goes into getting things done,” Simpson said. “That’s the result of being a public university, some of the things we try to do are not immediate changes but it builds a relationship that helps to find a solution.”
Student Government serves as a way to connect administrators to students and Simpson feels his year as vice president has allowed him a strong foundation to build off.
Elections for the president and vice president of Student Government for 2019-20 will take place on March 25, either online or in person in the Wade Center.