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Monday, May 20, 2024
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Op-ed: With Haley we know what we are voting for

Former AUSG President Sasha Gilthorpe endorses Haley Lickstein for SG president

Two years ago, I made some pretty steep promises. I said I would start a conversation about trigger warnings on syllabi, especially regarding content about sexual assault. Before I realized it, our Faculty Senate passed a resolution condemning mandated trigger warnings. I did my best to keep the conversation going. Was it our greatest policy success? Probably not. But it is always worth it to fight for our students and have hard conversations.

It’s no secret Student Government is far from perfect. It has good years and bad. But it has all the potential in the world because it harnesses the power of the people who matter most in our community: the students. But even with all that potential, being student body president is not glitz and glamour. It is mostly research and rejection. You have to fight hard. You have to keep going.

But you can’t say just say what we need to do. You need to say how we are going to do it.

That’s why I am supporting Haley Lickstein for student body president.

Haley didn’t wait to release her platform so she could criticize her opponents. When you’re president, you don’t get to just be against things. You have to be for things, too. Haley has ideas and she has the courage to share them.

Some have said Haley’s platform promises too much. But you can’t over-promise when you choose not to promise at all. A detailed platform matters. Putting your ideas to paper (or screen) matters.

It’s the blueprint for a year that starts before you even figure out how to log into the computer to check your email. It's a negotiation tool with decision makers, who can read your platform and realize you have a mandate for your ideas. It’s a foundation for relationships with clubs and organizations, who will work together with SG and students to grow and shape ideas into a win for everyone.

And it’s the way we, students, hold leaders accountable. You’ve already seen students do that this election. Speaking up moves us all in the right direction, but it isn’t possible when no one knows where you are going. You held me accountable -- by holding me to what I said and by telling me when what I said was plain wrong. You forced me to keep pushing. And we got things done, together.

I’m supporting Haley for student body president because I don’t just know who I am supporting, I know what I am supporting. I read her plans. I saw her vision. And I believed.

Haley will fight for peer wellness groups. We tried to negotiate for increased funding for the AU Counseling Center to create more space and hire more counselors, but our students can’t wait for another budget cycle. Our need is too urgent.

Haley will fight for student space. We passed a referendum two years ago to turn the third floor of MGC into a student union. We were told to wait until East Campus is finished. It’s time to get the ball rolling.

Haley will work for a Good Samaritan policy. Alcohol prohibition is proven to increase rates of sexual assault and binge drinking. She will ensure the existing plan for calling for medical help for another student in an emergency is fully carried out.

There’s a lot more Haley will fight for. She will work hard. And, like me, she’ll hit plenty of walls. But no one can know what those walls will be. I never guessed trigger warnings would be the firestorm they were. But I also never guessed that our recommendations to President Kerwin on Diversity and Inclusion would be as successful as they were. It felt like a longshot and together we hit a homerun.

Simply put, we know where Haley stands. She doesn’t just talk about problems. She talks about solutions. And the things we can measure are the things that we achieve.

In a few short months, my time at American University will come to a close. During that same time, our school will meet a new University President, a new Vice President of Campus Life and a new Title IX Program Officer. More changes are on the horizon.

No one knows what the next few years could look like-- that is why this election is so important. This is our moment.

You can vote for one of the students who care deeply about our campus and have experiences to prove it. Or you can vote for the student who cares deeply about our campus, has experiences to prove it, and has the courage to put her vision out there.

That student is Haley Lickstein.

Join me in voting Haley Lickstein for student body president on your AU Portal March 28 - March 31.

Sasha Gilthorpe is a senior in the School of Public Affairs and served as AUSG President from 2015-16.

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