Student Body Presidential Candidate: Julianna Calvaruso

Jasmin Ruiz, Reporter

The West Texas A&M University student body elections will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.  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 presidential candidate Julianna Calvaruso.

The Prairie: Why have you decided to run for student body president?

Julianna Calvaruso: When I came to WT, I saw that we had a very student-oriented campus, and one thing I noticed is that we have a lot of organizations that encompass a lot of different ideas, and I feel like almost every student can fit comfortably into at least one organization, and I feel like we have a lot or organizations that put on events. We don’t have a lot of student attendance to those events and so that’s something I really want to work on, and another reason why I ran is because I think WT is a great school, but I think there is also a lot of improvements that can be made. Realistically, things that students can actually do… like I can’t fix the Wi-Fi.

How did you become interested in student government?

I wanted to join student government before I even came to WT. I told myself when I was in high school that I really wanted to get involved and I really want to make the best of my college experience, and the best way to do that is to join student government and being the voice of the students. I joined student government my freshman year and I won my elected seat in Student Senate when I first came in.

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?

One thing I really want to do is I want to reform WT’s long gun policy. So right now, you are legally allowed to have a handgun in the dorm if you are 21 years old and have your license, and a lot of people who have long guns which you can be 18 to have…we do have a lot of students at WT who hunt and are long gun owners who live very far away, so I was looking into other campuses’ policies, and there was one I really liked which was Montana Tech. They have a safe provided by UPD, and the way it works is UPD will meet a student in the parking lot and they will secure the firearm but walk with them to the UPD building with the secured firearm and store it in the UPD. [The safe will have operating hours, and Calvaruso proposes that these operating hours would be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.] Then, you would have to rent out a spot in the space; obviously, it wouldn’t be free, but you know, it would be accommodating those students who are long gun owners, and I think it benefits both the people who are pro-gun and for those who are for gun restrictions because this helps gun owners avoid their guns rusting or the possibility of their guns being stolen out of their cars, but it also avoids illegal activities such as long guns in dorms, and you know, it encourages WT students to utilize their second amendment rights.

I want to do free monthly STD testing which will be provided by Amarillo’s department of health because currently student medical services does provide STD testing, but you do have to pay for lab results, and a lot of students don’t have that money…The Amarillo Department of Health does it for free. They do free testing and they also do free treatments, and they said they would bring a van…I already spoke to them. I’m in P.U.L.S.E, and we’ve have had them come to our campus in February and had them test over 55 students and so that is something I would like to implement as a monthly thing.

One of my biggest things that I really wanted to do is I want to make a student involvement scholarship. I want to work with the student engagement office and create a $500 scholarship for a student who attends the most student organization-sponsored events and basically the events that would count towards these are events that are open to the entire campus…A way to take attendance would be to have the swipe system, or for smaller scale events, they would have a sign-in sheet at the end of the event, and what I was thinking of that also was that the organization would give a week’s notice with the Office of Student Engagement so that they could put that on a calendar and then put that in the blast and so students can know which event counts for that scholarship, and the scholarship would be semesterly.

What issues do you think are important to students today?

Parking I feel like is a really big issue for students because. Something I would want to look into investing in (I can’t promise it) is that I would want to look into creating a parking structure behind Mary Moody [Northen Hall] so we can open up more parking spaces on campus. The shuttle will still be utilized but for the students that want to be able to park near campus for classes I feel like would be very beneficial.

For most students, it’s parking and Wi-Fi, but Wi-Fi you really can’t fix. Another issue that I feel like we do have is food, and right now, our contract with Aramark is supposed to be expiring. Something I would like to do as student body president is to be on those committees to either: If we choose to renew our contract with Aramark, try and come up with a better solution to have better food served because there’s no reason students should be paying $1500 a semester for food they’re barely eating, and they might have to go out to eat anyway or they are using spending money in the JBK to eat, or if we were to find a new service provider, try and tell what the problems were with Aramark and what we want to see fixed.

How do you hope to address these issues?

Generally, a lot of people don’t feel like they have a voice on this campus, and I feel like we have a lot of committees, we have a lot of dean’s meetings, and a lot of the things student government does are open to students, and I really want to be able to have committees with students and professors and faculty to have a more student-inclusive voice because WT is a very student-inclusive environment, and we have faculty that would be down for that…that encourages student involvement, and I feel like it’s just a matter of letting the students know that.

Given your personal experience, what issues on campus are important to you that other students may not be aware of?

I think that the STD is a big issue on our campus. A lot of people don’t want to go into it because you know of the place we’re in, but you know Potter County is right next door, and they’re number one for gonorrhea in the whole state of Texas. You know, we have a bunch of free resources that are available to students, but they’re not in Canyon; they are in Amarillo, but they’re willing to come here, and I want to be able to make that happen because you know a lot of students are involved with people from Amarillo and they have the higher rates and I feel like we should be protecting our students first and foremost.

What is your favorite thing about WT?

I would say it’s the fact we are such a student-oriented campus. I feel like WT really isn’t for-profit; it’s for their students, and if students want something, if there is enough of a voice behind it, they’ll have it. More students need to express their voice to be heard.

How do you hope to make a difference once you graduate?

Well, I plan on going to law school when I graduate, and I plan on going to an Ivy League hopefully. I feel like people who help defend the laws that we have in place really do help the country overall. Also, if there is a rule that is considered unfair, a lawyer can be one of the first stepping stones to changing it. I feel like I’d be a very notable alumni one day, and that’s something I really hope to do. You know, when you do the Google of WT and then there’s notable alumni, I want to be on there. I also want to be a donor because lawyers make a lot of money and so I hope to have money to donate to WT to help improve structures like Cousins Hall or things along the lines of that because that’s where I live currently.