ActUpKU Student Body Presidential candidate Niya Denise McAdoo and Vice Presidential candidate Ethan Roark outlined their platforms and shared what they plan to accomplish if elected in an interview with the Kansan.
Publicly, they have released platforms in ten different areas, including sexual violence advocacy and survivor support, environmental justice and sustainability, economic justice for students, mental health and racial justice for BIPOC folks, among others.
The coalition’s first platform release was about mental health. They proposed increasing funding to KU’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to hire more mental health specialists, lower individual student costs and increase availability to mental health services, according to their platform, which is largely outlined on their Instagram page.
“Students need access to quality, affordable, and accessible mental healthcare,” their platform said.
For McAdoo, who is the president of the KU Black Student Coalition, racial justice is a top priority for their coalition, she said in the student body presidential debate on April 1.
In their racial justice platform, ActUpKU proposed bridging the gap of communication between students of color and KU’s administration to create better opportunities for open dialogue, actively involving communities of color in conversations regarding issues and solutions and taking every opportunity to elevate Black and Brown voices.
“Students of marginalized communities, particularly Black and Brown students, are not being effectively heard by the KU administration,” their platform said.
Student employees and economic justice
Both McAdoo and Roark talked about their passion for economic justice and student employees. They proposed continuing support for campus resources to address food insecurity, advocating for the creation of a mutual aid fund, raising campus wages and creating a reporting system for student employees to report misconduct or poor workplace conditions.
They didn’t have a specific minimum wage in mind, but pointed to the $15 federal minimum wage as a possible goal for future years.
“Our main goal is reaching out to those student communities and seeing where they want to be in the next few years,” Roark said.
To make KU more inclusive for LGBTQIA2+ students, the coalition proposed continuing support for KU’s center for sexuality and gender diversity center, establishing gender neutral bathrooms across campus, working with student housing to provide more gender inclusive housing options and advocating for equality and inclusion on state and local levels, according to their platform.
“There is still a lot of work to be done to achieve a true sense of belonging for many LGBTQIA2+ students,” their platform said.
Given the recent events regarding KU not denouncing the controversial KBOR tenure policy, the issue of shared governance is very important, they said. In their platform, they proposed opening lines of communication between the administration and students and giving the student body a larger role in KU’s decision making.
In talking about how they would work with KU’s administration, McAdoo pointed to her work as president of the KU Black Student Coalition and their recent protest at Strong Hall.
“We have a meeting set up to continue speaking with the provost in her office to talk about [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging] issues,” McAdoo said. “I feel like that could be done for all issues.”
Sexual violence prevention
McAdoo and Roark want KU to do more to prevent sexual violence, they said. If elected, they want to revise the student code to be tougher on perpetrators of sexual violence, create a system of reporting sexual violence anonymously, advocate for more funding to study sexual violence and require training that centers survivors, according to their public platform.
“Historically, there has been a lack of meaningful support from KU to prevent sexual violence and create a safe space for survivors,” they said in their platform.
If elected, McAdoo and Roark will advocate to increase sustainability at KU, they said. Specifically, they proposed increasing energy efficiency in campus buildings, recognizing KU is built on stolen land and adding land acknowledgements to KU buildings, according to their sustainability platform.
“As KU works to become a more environmentally sustainable campus, we have been seeing great progress in creating avenues for energy efficiency in buildings and engaging climate change and Land activism on campus,” their platform said.
The Student Senate presidential election runs from April 18-24. KU students can vote online on RockChalkCentral.