President of the Black Student Coalition Niya McAdoo and Student Senator for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Ethan Roark launched the "ActUpKU" coalition for student body president and vice president Friday night in a Zoom call.
McAdoo and Roark met each other during a protest in response to the murder of Breonna Taylor, McAdoo said. From there, they decided to form the coalition and run for office.
The coalition laid out their initial platform for the upcoming campaign, including increasing mental health access to students, racial justice, economic issues and sustainability, among others.
The coalition stressed increasing funding for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at KU to hire more mental health professionals and lower costs for students.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, universities, including KU, have been facing a growing mental health crisis amongst college students,” Roark said. “Students need better access to quality, affordable and accessible mental health care here at KU.”
Racial justice and dealing with the current KU administration’s relationship with marginalized communities was also a priority for the coalition, they said.
“Students of marginalized communities, particularly Black and Brown students, are not being effectively heard by the KU administration,” McAdoo said. “Act Up KU is going to work to bridge the gap of communication between students of color and upper administration officials.”
Among the many economic issues they touched on, the coalition wants to increase wages for student employees, work to fight food insecurity and create a mutual aid fund for the community.
“We want to be able to work with KU dining services to provide 24/7 food options,” McAdoo said. “Additionally, we want to look into advocating for the creation of a student fund for financial crises and community projects.”
Sustainability on KU’s campus was an issue McAdoo and Roark thought needed more attention. The group mentioned energy efficiency in buildings, recycling and community gardens as some of the solutions they would work to implement if elected.
“We haven’t seen great progress about creating avenues for energy efficiency in buildings and engaging in climate change and land activism on campus,” Roark said. “Act Up KU will work to increase energy efficiencies in main campus buildings.”
The group is joining KUnity and ForwardKU as coalitions in the upcoming Student Senate elections. New coalitions have until March 15 to announce they are running in the 2021 election. Voting will begin on April 18.