The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Meet the student body president candidates

2021+SBP+Candidates
Photos by Will Nye
2021 SBP Candidates

JOSH FELDMAN


Editor’s Note: Below is a transcription of The Battalion’s interview with student body president candidate Josh Feldman.

Introduction

Howdy, my name is Josh Feldman. I am a 3+2 student over at the Bush School. I am a master’s of public service administration and my undergrad was political science with a minor in Russian and I am from the Class of ‘21.

What is your Aggie Story?

My Aggie story is extremely unique in the fact that I grew up as a second-generation Aggie. Both my parents are immigrants so I’m a first-generation American. I grew up in California but was born in Texas and my dad was an Aggie. My mom was not. I grew up here and there hearing about the Aggie story and about A&M and seeing his ring, but when I first moved back to Texas at the age of 16, that was when I kind of got enamored with A&M and I visited for the first time and went to a football game and really saw the campus. When it came time for me to go to college, I had actually graduated high school early, so I had been waiting there. I graduated at 15 and was doing the acting thing for a while and what happened was I came to campus and I was just in love. There was nowhere else I wanted to go. That’s why I came and coming here as a Jewish student and seeing how even though it’s a small minority of campus, there’s such a loud and proud Jewish community was huge to me as well as different organizations for me to be involved in. That’s how I got involved in SGA as the legislative relations chair for the student senate. As a VP of IFC in my own fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, and involved with other philanthropic organizations, whether it’s the Order of Omega honor society or my men’s organization, the amount of love here at A&M, the amount of support I’ve seen is just something that’s going to stick with me and that’s why I chose to be a 3+2 student, because even though I graduated from high school early, I wanted to experience A&M to its fullest and there’s nowhere better than Aggieland and I want everyone to share that Aggie experience and to be able to have that Aggie Story and to continue to have the chance to thrive like I’ve had the opportunity to.

What is your platform?

Our platform consists of three different ideas. Honor the past: Our idea is this is a movement larger than just one person, than just me, than just our team. This is something we want to span for years to come. This is building for the future. Our platform is Honor the Past, Adapt to the Present and Build for the Future. When we say honor the past, we look at the traditions that have made A&M special. We look at what has worked, whether it’s “Howdy to Health,” “SGA Talks Traffic”, the different initiatives on campus that have had an impact and also our past, whether it’s football, the traditions we hold so dear, making sure we honor it and making sure we cherish them. That leads into the next one: Adapt to the Present. SBP Mendoza, who is a good friend of mine, has done such a good job at allowing us to still work and thrive in a COVID world. I’ve seen the Aggie community to come together to adapt to these challenges and so now it’s up to us with this next step forward to adapt to what’s going on. How do we build out of the COVID-19 lifestyle, how do we transition out with the vaccine coming out and how do we build for a new future? Looking at what’s working now, what’s not working now, whether it’s communication or whether it’s the different aspects of our campus, how can we make it work better? Something that we want to look for for Adapt and leading into Build, is I want to institute a VP of engagement. If elected SBP, I will want to change the code to add a new vice president role where it is specifically focused on engagement to different student organizations, something that I think is extremely important is making sure that each organization is getting the time, love and energy they need and getting more involvement with SGA. That involves building for the future. Really building up our infrastructure and bringing together the entire Aggie community, we’re growing over 69,000 students. We need unity. This is a movement larger than one person and that’s what I want to say. This is not a campaign. Campaigns end after election day. A movement is held accountable, a movement grows, and a movement continues and that’s what we’re doing.

Why are you qualified for this position?

I would say that I have a lot of qualifications when it comes to this role. Being legislative relations chair for the Texas A&M Student Senate and a two-term senator already, I have a lot of experience with SGA. I’ve also been on numerous committees within SGA, whether it’s the LR committee, whether it’s the Core Values committee. I was on numerous selection committees, I’m on the current VP of Student Affairs Oversight committee, as well as a VP for IFC executive board for two years now and also in different organizations, whether it’s as treasurer for Omega and my past. I was an intern for over a year and a half for a congressman, so I have a lot of legislative experience and I was an actor for around 8-9 years. I had a lot of public speaking, I have a lot of experience running my own business and running organizations as well as planning events. I feel like my past with student government, with numerous organizations on campus, my past with public speaking and with my past experience with legislative stuff in general makes me a very qualified candidate for this office.

Who would you want to go to dinner with, dead or alive?

Charlie Chaplin. That would be because Charlie Chaplin was someone that, I don’t know if any of y’all know the movie, “The Great Dictator.” He has a speech in the climax of that movie that talks about hate. As a Jewish person that was formerly very involved in film, that spoke to me. He speaks about how hate is growing and how we can’t give into the hate in our lives and that we need to grow to be bigger, stronger, more emotional, better people. Something about that, a man who was so true to his convictions, he even was forced out of the U.S. when the Red Scare happened and he was thought to be a communist. Adolf Hitler actually thought he was a Jew. He was not a Jew, but he spoke so proudly for so many different people. Yes, this is still many, many years ago already, but he was someone so devoted to his convictions about peace and prosperity, he would be someone I’d like to talk to, especially about that speech at the end of that film because that speech is one of my favorite of all time.


CHARLIE FRAWLEY


Editor’s Note: Below is a transcription of The Battalion’s interview with student body president candidate Charlie Frawley.

Introduction

“My name is Charlie Frawley. I am a business management major and I am a junior.”

What is your Aggie story?

“My Aggie story begins with my parents. My dad, Class of ‘87, and my mom, Class of ‘88. My dad likes to joke that he spent seven of the best years of his life at A&M and he did not get a doctorate. So, they met here and they just absolutely loved it and got married while my dad was in grad school here at A&M, and right after my mom had graduated with her marketing degree. My dad was a major in geography and getting his master’s in urban planning. After that they moved to Florida, but they realized that they loved A&M and Texas so much that they moved back, and my dad started working for the university, and an extended research agency, and after a while had me. I am the first of two kids, they had my brother David as well, and raised me to love A&M, bleed maroon. I think they bottle fed me Kool-Aid. [They] raised me to appreciate the core values and so because of that I always look forward to coming to A&M. I know that one pivotal moment growing up is whenever I asked my parents why we had a can of ashes sitting in our living room. And they described and explained to me that they were ashes from the Bonfire collapse in 1999, just a couple months after I was born…One of the victims of the collapse, Jerry Don Self, they knew him, and he had come over to our house that house I grew up in, for bible study and things like that. They knew how important it was to the families and to honor those that we lost, and so that was my first taste of what the Aggie spirit means in one of the most deep ways. But then, I’ve also gotten to see what it looks like to serve and, just like in every day in regular ways I guess you could say. [I’m] just so thankful that I got to see that before I came here, but then also, just like whenever I set foot on campus that I was greeted by just like the most lovely and friendly people, and made new friends, and got to experience a variety of opportunities and experiences that I never, like, beyond what I could have dreamed of. Getting the opportunity to learn in the classroom, but also get to learn real life skills, like outside of the classroom, and experiences and abilities to serve, and to grow as a person, a friend and as a leader has been something that I’m super thankful for.”

What is your campaign platform?

“My campaign focuses on three areas that I think that we, as Aggies, have made a lot of progress in, but that there is certainly room for improvement in as well. So, the first area is access to mental health support. I’m very thankful that we, as Aggies, do have access to mental health support, provided by the university in the form of CAPS and other resources, such as the helpline, but I think that there is, like when you consider the pandemic and you consider just how large our student body is here in College Station, that there are definitely areas that we can improve. So, looking at ways to increase awareness of the programs that we already have as well as exploring ways to expand those opportunities is definitely something that I would like to do. And the second area focuses allocation of resources for all Aggies. What that means is…I know this university is very blessed with a large amount of resources from different areas, and I also know that there are many different types of students here from many different backgrounds, and it can be difficult to ensure that there are opportunities for success for everyone, especially considering that I know that my journey to and through A&M has been rich with opportunities, and so I would like to advocate for programs and opportunities so that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, that when you set foot on campus for your NSC, that you see a path to success similar to the one that I did. And I know that’s not a necessarily straight, narrow and easy path, but looking at ways that we can, again like with mental health support, increase programs and opportunities that we already have while exploring opportunities for expansion of those resources. The third area of focus is advancement in service. I know that service is something that we, as Aggies, care about a lot as it is one of our core values, and most organizations on campus emphasize, if not require, service for membership. I mean, there’s examples such as The Big Event and the 12th Can that provide opportunities to serve. And so, I think that there are areas of improvement and service. So for example, I think we do a great job of serving the community, but I think that we can go a step further by exploring ways to serve with the community in addition to just serving them in general. And so, looking for ways to form lasting relationships with families and workers in the Bryan-College Station area, and those that serve our campus is something that I look forward to doing.”

Why are you qualified for this position?

“First and foremost, I don’t think that any one, single individual is perfectly qualified, however, I am very thankful for a variety of experiences that have grown me as a leader, and helped me see areas for improvement and things of that nature that would help me in this role. And so, some of those experiences here at A&M, especially ones that have an emphasis on service, would include serving as a role call coordinator for the Aggie Muster committee, serving as a co-director of development for the MSC Abbott Family Leadership Conference, serving as a[n] impact counselor as a mentor with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Brazos Valley and then serving as…rec sports coordinator for the Student Services Committee on the executive branch. And so throughout or from those experiences, I have definitely learned what good and great leadership looks like and I’ve also been able to [learn] from people’s mistakes including my own. And so, I think that with the experience and knowledge and wisdom, albeit limited, that comes with serving in a variety of roles with a variety of groups, and people on and off campus and members of the Aggie family from different areas, has allowed me to gain perspective and has taught me a lot about how much I enjoy working with people.”

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

“I think if I could have dinner with anyone, it would be my late great grandpa. His name was Charles Lamb, but his nickname was ‘Cordero.’ He passed away, unfortunately, before I was born, but my dad has told me so many different stories about him and just how much of an influence he had on my dad, which means that he indirectly had a great influence on me. And so, I would love to get to know him, to learn more about, like, where my family came from and just get to enjoy his presence and whatnot.”


BLAKE MARTIN


Editor’s Note: Below is a transcription of The Battalion’s interview with student body president candidate Blake Martin.

Introduction

I am Blake Martin. I am a junior political science major from Fort Worth, Texas. I am also a cadet and a student senator and I’m running to be the next student body president of Texas A&M.

What is your Aggie Story?

As a second-generation Aggie, I was pretty much brought up in the Aggie Spirit. My mom was a non-reg class of ‘87, my uncle was Class of ‘84. Growing up, I’ve always wanted to come to this university. It’s been in my blood. The first time I really felt the Aggie spirit was back in 2010 when A&M played my dad’s alma mater, Stephen F. Austin, and obviously some jokes going on between the two of us but at that moment in time, I knew I wanted to be an Aggie. I didn’t actually get into A&M on my first try. I went to Tarlton State, but I worked my butt off, got a 4.0 my second semester and got into Texas A&M. This has really been a dream come true and I’m really living the dream right now.

What is your campaign platform?

There are three main issues that I’d like to talk about: tradition, transparency and efficiency. Tradition is obviously the most important thing about being Aggies. It’s something that unites us — the values that we have at this university and the core values, such as excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. I’d like to foster an environment where people start saying ‘Howdy’ again, where we bring back lesser known traditions into the forefront such as E-Walk, Student Bonfire is another great one as well as promoting those bigger traditions such as Silver Taps, Midnight Yell and then Muster. The second point that I’d like to bring up is transparency. I think obviously as students, we have a lot going on right now and this year has been really tough with COVID-19 and everything. I’d like to start monthly town halls where students could come and speak with their candidates, with the student body president if I am so lucky to be that and speak with student senators as well as potentially administration officials to see what issues are impacting them and what’s being done on that front. Efficiency is one of the big ones to me. Having really good transportation is something I’d like to see. We’ve made improvements but I’d like to continue to improve on this. Mental health is a big one right now as we come out of COVID-19, partnering with the community health centers out in Bryan-College Station, as well as giving CAPS the resources that they need to improve mental health conditions on campus. I’d like to see Aggies come together with regard to things such as student choice, lower fees, getting their voices out there saying, ‘Look these fees are too high for us,’ whether it be with parking passes or high book prices, I’d like to hear that and see that maybe we can cut down on some of those prices and make it more affordable to come to school here.

Why are you qualified for this position?

For all the students who are interested in voting for me, I’m experienced. I’m on third brigade staff in the Corps of Cadets, I’ve held leadership positions in multiple organizations on campus. I’ve been a student senator and I’ve really fought for student issues. We may differ on certain opinions. I’m certain that is something that we can have passionate debates over, but there’s nobody who’s stronger in fighting for student voices and I will bring that to the forefront of this campaign and if I’m elected student body president, I will put the students’ voices first and try to work with those people with whom we disagree sometimes. I think that there’s nobody stronger on that front for student body president.

If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Since we are at A&M, James Earl Rudder. Rudder was, I would say, the greatest Aggie of all time. He’s someone who I look up to. He was a statesman, he was a war hero, and he also changed this university for the better, bringing in a wide array of people, people who weren’t just in the Corps but plenty of people, women, minorities as well. Bringing just a vibrant community that not only just reflects this university but reflects our country abroad. I think listening to him, his leadership skills, listening to all he could bring to the table, as an Aggie, that’s something that I would love to hear.


NATALIE PARKS


Editor’s Note: Below is a transcription of The Battalion’s interview with student body president candidate Natalie Parks.

Introduction

Howdy! My name is Natalie Parks and I’m a junior communications major from Denton, Texas.

What is your Aggie Story?

I feel like my Aggie story is kind of unique. A&M was actually not the very top of my list of schools. I applied to honestly way too many looking back on it now. But what changed my mind and boosted A&M to the top of my college list was actually the Class of 2022 GroupMes. I joined the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 2022 Facebook page per request of my mom. She was like, ‘It’s not going to hurt.’ So I posted a couple of pictures and did a little introduction of myself. From there, someone reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, join our GroupMes.’ At the time I think there were 500 people and at one point it got to 2,000. I met so many incredible people from the GroupMes of all things and we had meet ups in the DFW area. I remember I joined the page and the GroupMe back in January of 2018 and after that, there was a meetup a couple of days later. I actually committed to A&M the very next day after meeting all these incredible humans in person. I’m still friends with a lot of them. It was really the community and the spirit I found was present in learning about the traditions and what makes A&M unique that really fully attracted me to it. I had actually never visited campus before committing and I very much believe that I was meant to be here.

What is your platform?

My platform is built off the premise of creating a TAMU by you. Essentially what this means is I spent a long time just reaching out to student leaders and students and friends and paying attention to social media and Twitter to figure out what are the issues that students really want tackled. After a long research period of figuring that stuff out behind the scenes, I narrowed everything down to three platform pillars which are wellness – because wellness influences student success – inclusion – because I want to make it known that everybody has a place in Aggieland – and finally tradition because tradition is what connects us to the Aggie spirit but also each other. All those things combined and all the action items beneath those pillars, because that’s also something that is super important to me is choosing platform pieces that are actually possible, so all of those just combine to create the TAMU by You vision.

Why are you qualified for this position?

I have been really involved on campus in my time here. Selfless service is my favorite Aggie Core Value and I tried to make that known in everything that I do. From the second I set foot on campus, I knew I wanted to get involved. I started by joining a FLO. I was in Fish Council, which is the representative body of the freshman class so that’s an extension of Class Councils, so I’ve been in that since the beginning. I currently serve as the junior class president, which is my favorite thing that I’ve ever been able to do here, but also very involved in the Greek Life side of things. I’m in a sorority, Kappa Delta specifically, where I served on the leadership council as the vice president of community service. Currently I’m serving as the executive vice president of Panhellenic, which is the governing body of sororities. Just a couple of other leadership positions within class councils to put on the traditions and stuff we do. Just kind of been everywhere.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

I think I would honestly have to choose James Earl Rudder, the one and only, because without him, I would not be sitting here in front of you today. He helped to integrate Texas A&M from an all-military male school to having women and people of color and just contributed to creating the diverse community that we have on campus here today.


MATT RYAN


Editor’s Note: Below is a transcription of The Battalion’s interview with student body president candidate Matt Ryan.

Introduction

Howdy, I’m Matt Ryan from Friendswood, Texas and I am a proud member of the Class of 2022.

What is your Aggie story?

When I was applying to schools, I didn’t apply anywhere else other than A&M. None of my family went to A&M, none of my brothers, sisters. And so, it was really the only choice that I wanted. I didn’t want engineering. I decided to become a business major, and I’m working out great. I’m a member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, and so that’s really what drove me to Texas A&M, I wanted to be part of the Aggie Band, and it’s been great ever since. I’ve developed friends in the core that are just amazing, you know. They say whenever you’re in the corps, you make friends that marry you and bury you. Really I’ve developed a great group of friends. And whenever I started here, I went to Fish Camp, I ended up loving it, and I came around to elections for freshman class president, and so my leader of the Fish Camp, aside said, “Hey you should run for it, nothing’s going to hurt.” And so, that’s really how I got started at A&M. I started in the corps, in the band and then I was elected the freshman class president, which I was shocked at. I didn’t think I had a chance. Really everything from there has just been smooth sailing. Grades have always been sort of my main thing here, you know. If I went home, and told my parents, “Hey I didn’t do well in school,” and they’re like, “Well you’re no longer going to school.” I’m still always here to get a degree. I’ve just loved the friends I’ve made, and loved the things I’ve been able to do while I’ve been here.

What is your campaign platform?

So, my first point in unity, my second point in mental health and my third point in traditions. Sort of my plan for all of that is they all revolve around the Aggie family. I want to, sort of, make the Aggie family the center of why people come to Texas A&M. If you talk to any old Ags, they talk about how once you get your Aggie Ring, you get a job. It’s not necessarily about the degree, it’s the network that you get. I feel, especially the last couple of years with stuff about the Sully statue and more recently with talking about pass/fail grades, the university has become very divided. I feel if we can get back to what makes us the Aggie family, and doing whatever we can to help somebody else. And so, that starts with unity, and that leads to mental health. Specifically in the Corps of Cadets, this year we’ve had two suicides. I know the university is also up on suicides, and nationally there’s been a rise in suicides. I believe it’s due to COVID-19, and I feel that students are sort of lost. They feel like they don’t have the resources available, so with my platform, I want to highlight each week, how you can access the help you need. And finally, traditions. I feel like traditions at A&M are slowly dying. Attendance is dropping and the reason to go to these traditions has sort of been lost. My favorite tradition personally is Silver Taps. I think it’s something special that we do that no other university does. It truly helps the families. You know, a lot of people I feel do not understand why we do Silver Taps, and how much it can help the families just by attending.

Why are you qualified for this position?

I think I’m qualified for this position for a number of reasons. First, obviously I served as the freshman and sophomore class president, and the reason I didn’t serve as the junior class president, I didn’t run because I was supposed to be doing a study abroad in Ireland. So, I decided not to run, I asked a couple people to run and Natalie Parks ended up running. I feel like she’s done a great job while she’s been junior class president. And so, I have that experience as the president of the class of 2022 of working with traditions, working with other organizations to help the university be the best it can be, secondly, I’m a member of the Corps of Cadets, which is not only a military organization, but also a leadership organization. I have learned a lot by helping. Last year as a sophomore, you sort of have a direct relationship with the freshman. So, I got to see my freshman grow and become, sort of from a high school student to a college student and how they really transformed. You really have that one-on-one relationship that’s really helpful. This year I’ve been able to serve in a wider aspect and we just help my home outfit develop, become better at career readiness. We’ve done some mental health training times as well, trying to make them become more physically fit, make sure their grades are good. It’s really important developing those people and I feel like I have a lot of experience there that other people might not have.

If you could have dinner with someone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

If I could have dinner with anybody dead or alive, it’d probably be, there are so many good people. Probably Matt Damon. Matt Damon is my favorite actor, my favorite movie is “Goodwill Hunting,” and he’s the lead actor there. It’s just such a great movie. I just want to ask him about his life’s story, because he ended up writing the movie himself, him and Ben Affleck, and they made it so great. And he just seems like a cool dude. I saw “The Martian,” he just seems so funny, and I would love to get to know him and see what he’s like.


CHASE NEWSOM

Editor’s Note: Chase Newsom did not respond to The Battalion’s interview requests but remains on the ballot as a candidate for student body president according to the Student Government Association’s Election Commissioner.

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