Once a year, Hunsaker Plaza is dotted with A-frame signs displaying colorful designs and smiling faces asking for your vote. ASUR campaign week is a time where students are bombarded with quick, catchy one-liners and persuaded by tabling campaign representatives to give their vote to their candidate.
This year, three candidates are running for the position of ASUR President: Junior Jacob Madden, Junior Michael Link, and Freshman Sabrina Nunn. Each student brings a different understanding of what the students of the University of Redlands want, and this week the Redlands Bulldog sat down with all three. The result is a series of interactions giving a deeper understanding of each candidate’s personality, platform and goals.
Michael Link is a Johnston student with an emphasis in Neuroscience and Entrepreneurship. Passionate about biotechnology (he hosts a podcast each week on the topic), Link is a STEM student with a creative drive, professing an interest in painting, skating, playing the piano, meditating, and getting up early to watch the sunrise. He decided to run for ASUR president out of concern that students are not being told what resources are available to them.
“A lot of students don’t really understand the resources that are available on campus,” Link said. “Meaning other students, faculty, or professionals associated with the school, as well as the services that this school offers.”
Link’s solution to this lack of awareness: technology.
“If somehow we could use some of the students in the computer science department for example,” Link explained. “To create a little server or a platform where students can access or better understand what resources are available, we might be able to create opportunity.”
Link sees this potential platform as a way for students to connect with other people to collaborate and create new projects on campus.
“Let’s say environmental students are trying to make something happen on campus,” Link said. “They can network to to finance and accounting students to say, ‘okay we need some business help to figure out what we can do to make this sustainable plan happen.’”
Link proposes that connecting students to work together to solve problems has real-life effects for all students.
“For instance, the commons I think is having a big problem in terms of plastic forks and whatnot,” Link said. “But I think some of the problem of not getting change to happen is that one group of people from one area of knowledge – environmental science – is trying to solve a problem, and they don’t have the business skills or maybe the math skills that other students might [have] to help them with that problem. Maybe if these business students say ‘okay, if we change this, this and this, we can save this amount of money over five years and then we could actually have the money to make this change that would support our environment.’”
In a bit of clever word-play, Link’s elevator pitch for his platform is to “link people together to make a change.”
Another result of connecting people in this way, according to Link, is an increase in student wellness.
“Maybe you’re going through a problem and you need counseling in the counseling center,” Link said. “The problem is we don’t have enough counselors for the amount of students that need it … these students might not know that they’re going through the same things, and if there was a platform where students could connect that are going through problems – similar or not similar, you know? – they could talk to each other.”
Link argues that connecting with other students via this platform who they may not know could be beneficial to their wellbeing.
“Maybe if these students could get on this network to connect,” Link said. “They could talk to each other, not knowing [the other person] and have a kind of low-key phone conversation – not even knowing the other person’s name – and talk about each other’s problems. Maybe out of that they might make a friend.”
Link advocates that his networking platform is the basis of what makes him fit to serve the students as ASUR President.
“I believe that networking is the language of everything,” Link said. “Within all disciplines that I’ve learned about – philosophy, math, science, physics, english – there’s a network in every single one of these. I think that’s such a strong aspect of accomplishing anything … I want to be able to meet the needs of the students efficiently by having this networking platform.”