Student Body Vice Presidential Candidate: Micah Davidson
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The West Texas A&M University student body elections will take place on March 7 and 8. In order to give the campus community a better look at the candidates, The Prairie will be featuring those candidates running for student body president and vice president. Next up is student body vice presidential candidate, Micah Davidson.
The Prairie: Why did you decide to run for office of VP this year?
I’ve been involved with Senate this whole past year, and all throughout high school, I was involved with things that involved parliamentary procedure, so I’ve always been interested in it. Getting to be on student government this year has made me have more of an interest it can be run. I’ve seen how efficiently it can be run, and I want to be a part of that. The biggest thing for me is the students of WT. There’s a lot of things that I think we are well represented in and taken care of, but I feel like we can do an even better job of that, and we can do that through our senators. Being vice president, you get to facilitate the senators and hopefully help them be productive as well as the vice president being productive. I’d like to be a part of that, and I really think I could do a good job with that.
How did you become interested in student government?
I was really involved with FFA throughout high school, and I was involved in Junior FFA before that. That was a really big part of that because FFA focuses on preparing you for your career and preparing you for your future. It doesn’t just focus on agriculture or farming or anything like that. It focuses on teaching you skills that you can use in any profession. It provides the opportunity for you to be interested in government and interested in doing those different things that aren’t necessarily within the field that you’re going for. I’m an agriculture education major so I plan on being a high school ag teacher. It just sets you up to really be prepared for anything so it gave me an interest for that. Last year, I served as a state officer for FFA, so I had the opportunity to travel to D.C. and represent Texas FFA on National Ag Day and lobby on Capital Hill. Then, I also had the opportunity to conduct tours and lead FFA members at Texas FFA Day at the Capitol in Austin last year. I’ve been exposed to a lot in the last year or two, and I’ve just had more of an interest in government, so I really want to be a part of it here at WT.
If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?
A lot of times, we look to the future to where we’re going in ten years at WT, but there’s a lot of things that we need to look at now. The biggest thing for me is facilitating the senators. I want to be out there doing work as well, but … the biggest part of that is getting the senators to be in a place where we can have a very productive senate to where it’s not just the vice president working, which I think happens a lot. That way it’s 45 senators and the vice president working so that we can figure out the issues that need to be covered and take care of our students. The four different committees that we cover on in the Senate are public relations, rules and appropriations, student affairs and academic affairs. I feel like those really encompass a lot of things, but there’s other things we can cover, too, that we’re not necessarily covering right now. Student affairs does a lot with issues around campus, like one of the things they looked at this year was making sure there was enough lighting around places when students were walking, and I think that’s awesome. They’ve done a really good job on that committee of finding issues, isolating them and trying to get something done. Where it goes after Senate is out of our power, but I’d like to see us tackle as many issues as we can to make things better for our students. In the residence halls, a lot of the time, I [as a resident assistant] don’t necessarily feel like students get everything that they could from the residence halls, and I feel like there’s better situations that we could provide. One of those things is more study rooms. Study rooms don’t necessarily get utilized, and I know in Jones Hall, most of them are converted into storage closets. I feel like that’s something we could promote better and maybe make a better place for students to be able to study in the dorms. There’s a lot of different things we could do there.
What issues do you think are important to students today?
I don’t feel like they necessarily think that they get their money’s worth on a lot of things… There’s different things that they don’t feel like a lot of things are good enough for them for what they’re paying… They’ve worked to make it better this year with the caf and making the food better, which is a big thing… I think it’s about looking at things like that that we can’t necessarily change but try to make a change. I think that’s something that students can do… A lot of times we talk about this because it’s the piece that you look at for universities and that’s sports and athletic events. Students want an atmosphere, but they’re not going to games. Why is that? Our softball team is one of the best in the country. I’ve been to games and they’re super fun. So why won’t students go to those? Like basketball games. We had Trash Tarleton last weekend and people actually went. People went because we had a theme and a reason to go. If we provide more opportunities like that, I think we can get that opportunity to them. We lose a lot of students. We have a lower retention rate than we should because we have students leaving because they don’t necessarily get the experience that they’re looking for. I think it’s important to provide that experience. Even if people don’t like sports, there’s other things. Our fine arts are amazing. I’ve been to several productions there, and it’s been really, really good. I think that’s something that we should spokesperson more. WT does a good job of telling us about what’s going on… and I don’t necessarily know how to do it, but that’s what I want to try to figure out with the senate. How do we get students to those things and how do we get them more involved so that they’re not just sitting in their room and eventually leaving WT before they graduate?
How do you hope to address these issues?
I think even that falls on the senators a little bit. I’m guilty of not necessarily getting out and talking to people and pulling in information. A lot of students just don’t know that we have senators. They don’t even know what student government is. You can see it because we have so many vacancies on student senate all the time, so they don’t even realize that there’s spots open that they can fill if they have these issues; if they have these things that they want to address. I think we have to be better spokespersons for the senate on the senate and then I also think that we have to be more vocal that we even exist and that [students] have that opportunity to make a difference. As an RA this year, I had an incident with several of my residents that wanted to sleep in the lobby. They were upset because I told them that they shouldn’t sleep in the lobby because they have a room and they should sleep there. They were like, “Well, it’s not in the handbook that we can’t sleep in the lobby.” So even little things like that, they want those things addressed so we have to be more vocal and make sure that they know they can have a voice for those things and can make a difference in that. That’s through the student senate. I think it’s really just being a better spokesperson for the senate so they know it’s there and that they have that opportunity to talk about it.
If given the chance, what would you change about campus policies if you could?
Obviously the big one is always the 60-hour rule. A lot of people don’t like that one. I like it. I like that we’re requiring people to be on campus and be involved because I feel like we do have a more involved student body because of it. At the same time, it’s difficult for a lot of students, especially transfer students because transfer students come in and they have to live on campus and they’ve already lived off campus for two years. That’s super hard. I’ve met a lot of transfers from Clarendon that are living in the dorms and that’s really frustrating. I would hate that. I think that’s definitely a monster that needs to be addressed. The student senate can’t just change that. We can only make suggestions and ask that it be changed but that’s something that I think definitely needs to be addressed. I think it’s just important that we really advertise the different opportunities we have. Students don’t realize the things that are in front of them and the different resources they have. I think that’s a problem. It’s really just being vocal and making sure that they know. We talk about that a lot but how do you do that? How do you communicate? I think that’s something that as a student senate, we could figure out. We can devise a way to communicate that out to students. Also, years ago when the university set up scholarships, we didn’t get them endowed. This means that our scholarship pool will dry up soon if we don’t address it. We need to seek out donors and the means to endow the university scholarships. I don’t think the 60-hour rule is anywhere close in comparison to how monumental this fact is. Scholarship opportunity is what brings students to our university.
Given your personal experience, what issues on campus are important to you that some students may not be aware of?
I think if you look internally into the student senate, there’s a lot of issues that we can address there. Not necessarily with how it’s set up, but how we can do things to make it more productive. There’s 45 senators. One of the committees has about… 15 or so [people on it]. That’s more than any others. My committee has about six on it, so that’s not super productive and I think that students aren’t aware of those, but that’s something that we can kind of come up with better. I think we should have some subcommittees within committees and then maybe even create another committee that’s for events and for spirits and traditions. There’s a lot of traditions that we have here at WT that students aren’t even aware of. I think that’s a shame. I always liked Texas A&M and that’s where I always wanted to go before found WT and decided to come here. I love the atmosphere at Texas A&M because they have traditions and spirits and whether you hate A&M or not, their traditions are cool. We have traditions kind of like that that we can turn out. A lot of people don’t even know what the eternal flame is. That’s something that I think would be really cool to bring back and make clear and make it where people see it on campus. I think that would be really neat, and I think there are other traditions we could develop and make a big thing about at WT so that students see those and want to be a part of them.
What is your favorite thing about WT?
I like our faculty a lot. Just how it’s close-knit. The dean of ag, Dean Hawkins, I’ve walked into his office before and he’ll invite me to sit on his couch and we’ll sit there and have a conversation. I was on the cross country team, and I decided not to run anymore and step away from it. He knew I had stepped away and he saw me in the hallway and was like, “Hey, make sure you’re still running. You’re going to gain some weight if you don’t.” They’re invested in our lives, and they know what’s going on. I think that’s for sure my favorite thing. When I visited other universities before I came here, I visited St. Edward’s in Austin, I visited SFA and I visited Texas A&M and at every university, I never met professors in my department. I tried to. Even at A&M, I tried to get a department meeting, but I ended up just meeting with an advisor. When I came and visited WT, I met Dr. Williams, who is the [agriculture education] professor, Dr. Robertson, who is an [agriculture communications] professor, and they actually just sat there and talked to me about WT and why they wanted me here. I think that’s really special because I think a lot of the time students take for granted that we’re wanted here. At other universities, you kind of just become a number. I think that’s really neat. That’s super special because our professors are just fantastic. If they’ll sit down and have a conversation with you and not even ask about school and they just ask about your life, that’s something that we won’t get anywhere else and we should really take to heart because that’s super awesome.
How do you hope to make a difference once you graduate?
Right now, I’m an agriculture education major. I plan to go on and get my master’s and eventually teach ag at the high school level. It may seem small scale, but I want to be a teacher and I want to be around students and get the opportunity to invest in their lives and get to invest in them to help them find their potential for everything. I want them to find leadership and personal growth and eventually, career success. That’s something I want to be a part of in their lives. That’s why I want to be an ag teacher. I can see myself doing other things, but ultimately, I just want to be around people and get the opportunity to build them up because some people never hear a positive word within a day. I think it’s important that if you could be the one person that says a positive word throughout a day of school then that’s special. Especially in young people because you have to start early with trying to get positive influences in people’s lives because they don’t necessarily have that. That’s really what I want to do. I want to get to be a positive influence in the lives of young people because they don’t necessarily hear that every day. That will hopefully set them up for the rest of their lives.