Starting today, students of the U of R will decide who their next ASUR President will be. The Redlands Bulldog has interviewed all three candidates in the interest of better informing the student body on their choices. Here are their answers to four questions about them and their campaign.
How did you develop your platform? Are they issues personal to you/your experience? Have they been sourced from students, if so who?
Biology major and business and chemistry minor Hannah Albrecht ‘21 has decided to tackle what she calls a “segregated” community that leaves students feeling “isolated.”
“I have been involved with a lot of different groups on campus,” Albrecht said, “and through all of these groups I got to see how many amazing students we have on this campus, but everything felt so segregated. I felt like I couldn’t invite my friends from one group to something my other friends were at because … nothing ever crossed over, so that’s kind of how I came up with my platform, which is to develop the university community and find a way to merge all of our groups together into a more cohesive environment.”
Albrecht argues the university’s declining retention rate—about eight to ten points behind peer private institutions like Chapman and Occidental, but still above national average—could be improved by addressing this lack of cohesion among the student body.
“I think that the University of Redlands doesn’t have the greatest retention rate, and I think sometimes it’s because students feel isolated and they don’t know how to break those barriers and go from one group to another.”
Sabrina Nunn ‘21 is a Johnston student with a data analytics emphasis. She has developed a strictly student-sourced platform currently still in development; an approach that calls back to the same method she used in her freshman year bid for the position in the spring of 2018.
“ASUR President is supposed to be representative of the student voice, so throughout the  campaign … I wanted to find a way to encapsulate that better, and that was through this thing I called the ‘fishbowl,’” Nunn explained. “Where I basically had people write down suggestions as to what they wanted to see changed [and put them in the bowl] … This time I took the same concept—that bowl is sitting upstairs in SIS right now—and the questions that I asked students [are] “what would you like to see ASUR improve or advocate for?” [and] “Think about what clubs or organizations that you’re involved in, and how would you like to see ASUR support you?”
As of her interview with The Bulldog, she had not gathered the responses students have submitted, but in her previous campaign she provided a list categorized by subjects like “sustainability, communications, food and drink, well-being” and more.
“It’s not just you bringing your ideas that you think people will want,” Nunn said. “It’s listening to those voices, listening to those ideas, and bringing those to fruition and taking initiative based off of that.”
Johnston student Maya Villar-Carrillo ‘21, currently abroad, has built their campaign largely around issues associated with identity. However, they argue that it “echoes student voices and is also extremely personal” to them. Their platform derives many of its goals from their emphasis of study in Johnston: “ways to deconstruct institutional injustices.”
“[My platform] will always be something I am trying to achieve,” Villar-Carrillo said. “I want equity for marginalized students, for trans students of color, and I believe that ecoscaping, visibility, and financial transparency and education are a few ways of achieving this goal.”
Components of Villar-Carrillo’s platform are imbricated within one another in ways yet to be elaborated upon. For example, Villar-Carrilo argued in their video submitted answer at the ASUR presidential debate that acts of financial transparency like awareness of budgeting practices “will heighten our chance for diversity and student voices, and it will also build a more sustainable environment.” Methods of financial transparency other than the already-published ASUR budget (available on the organization’s Presence page) were not addressed.
Albrecht and Nunn listen to Villar-Carrillo’s video responses to questions at Friday’s debate. Photograph by Hannah Sobel.
How has your involvement in the U of R community prepared you for this position?
Nunn cited her position as finance chair of Kappa Phi Zeta, recruitment chair of inter-sorority group Panhelenic, and ASUR Social Affairs director. She emphasized her position on Social Affairs in her answer.
“One of the bigger [events] that I’ve done recently was Casino Night,” Nunn said. “That was the one I was in charge of. So I’m in charge of two assistant directors, and currently five or six committee members who help me out. That has really taught me how to work with a team; to understand how to listen to voices … everything is a collective effort.”
Villar-Carrillo points to their involvement in activists groups like Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC), and work in CDI. They argue that this involvement, though unconnected to student government, has prepared them to shake things up.
“Having worked at CDI since my first year at the UoR and being a first-generation student, I have been very active in activist groups and organizations around the University of Redlands and greater Redlands community. I have not run for office before, but I am coming in full force this year, intending to radiate love and radical change!”
Albrecht cited her experience on ASUR Senate as a freshman, her position as president of APO, and student director of CSL. She synthesized her experiences in a way that she argues makes her a strong advocate for the student body.
“I guess my perspective has changed [since being a freshman Senator] because now I have a goal and I have a vision,” Albrecht said. “The other things I’ve done on campus … have opened my eyes to some of my faults, and I think it’s helped me to grow so much as a leader, and now I feel confident that I could be the voice of the student body, and I can sit in a room full of administrators and voice my opinions freely and not be afraid of what other people are going to say.”
What inspired you to run for ASUR? What changes are you hoping to make at the University if elected, and what issues do you hope to focus on most?
As a result of their involvement in CDI, Villar-Carrillo has made the department’s involvement with ASUR a cornerstone of their campaign; specifically, Villar-Carrillo hopes to create a lasting collaboration between the two.
“Working in CDI has made me realize that ASUR, though not by any fault of their own, is a bit inaccessible to a lot of students, in part because there is not much collaboration between students with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion,” Villar-Carrillo said. “I want to change that. I want ASUR to be a part of CDI, to aid and support and collaborate with the center.“
Through “more workshops” and “more financial transparency” between ASUR and CDI, Villar-Carrillo believes that student involvement with their student government can be strengthened. They advocate for “more money to CDI” as well as collaborations between CDI and STEM majors, Greek life members, and students in the School of Education and Music. Villar-Carrillo insists that “all of us care about each other, our planet and our school.”
After Nunn’s first campaign, she continued to work with ASUR through their Social Affairs committee. Her involvement there gave her the confidence to make another run for the presidency.
“Because I felt like I had learned so much [from the 2018 election] … I still wanted to be able to serve students,” Nunn said. “So I went to Alex [Ries] (Associate Director of Student Involvement and Success), and he said ‘I think … you’re the right person for Social Affairs” … and for the last few years I’ve been a director [of Social Affairs]. That is one of the facets of ASUR that I have been able to grow through and hold a leadership role in.”
When asked what issues her ‘fishbowl’ method has brought to her attention, she said that “marketing events to students” better, as well as “expanding on mental health and wellbeing” stuck out to her. In addition, she mentioned the new cabinet position entitled “Wellbeing” she hopes to help develop, and the JED assessment which the Senate is currently discussing that would “build upon existing student mental health, substance use and suicide prevention efforts” through new programs and policies.
Albrecht also cited the words of Alex Ries as her inspiration for running for ASUR president.
“What sealed the deal for me was hearing Alex Reis explain that the key role you play as ASUR president [is that] ‘in a room of administrators you are the only student voice there,’” Albrecht said. “That needs to be somebody who is representative of what our student body wants, and what they want to see.
Building up her initiative to foster a cohesive community at the University of Redlands, Albrecht cites a number of issues as her key concerns.
“I step foot on campus, and I feel at home, and there are students that don’t feel that way,” Albrecht said. “I want each of them to have that opportunity. So like I said, integrating our groups, better sustainability practices, and more awareness around mental health and providing students with better access to the counseling center and resources for financial aid, because I feel like there’s kind of a lack of communication and knowledge about some of that stuff.”
What is your favorite thing about the U of R? Where do you think there is room for improvement?
All three candidates, in their own way, said that the people are their favorite thing about the U of R.
For Albrecht, it was the support students and faculty give one another that she finds most valuable.
“I actually had an experience recently where I was at practice, and I watched a coach come up to one of my teammates,” Albrecht said. “He was like “Hey man, I haven’t seen you in a couple years, what are you up to how have you been?” and they talked for a little while and they ended the conversation with his former coach saying, “Whatever you do in life, give me tickets, I want to be there to support you … I don’t want credit for where you end up, I just want to support you in that process.” Being at a small school, and having that close interaction and those relationships is my favorite thing about Redlands.”
The biggest change Albrecht wants to make is with communication between administration and the student body.
“I think that there’s just a serious disconnect between administration and students,” Albrecht said. “That’s what leads to that lack of communication I was talking about, and students being kind of left in the dark about what’s going on, and students not even being aware of [how they can] make changes to improve these things. So I’d like to be the person that has the admin insight and can go to the students and be like, ‘This is what we’re actually able to do, how do we want to use that?’”
Villar-Carrillo pointed towards student involvement within improving the university. Criticisms of the U of R were not specified when answering, but their response emphasized student’s ability to enact the change they wanted to see.
“My favorite thing about the U of R is the students who are eager to make a change, make their institution better, and have fun with it,” Villar-Carrillo said. “I think all of us have a lot of love and want to see our institution grow and shift with us; we are a beautiful student body. We have supportive administrators, and the improvement comes with prioritizing marginalized students and ideas.”
Nunn said that the people she’s met at the U of R have created a home away from home that she’s never experienced anywhere else.
“Many of the friendships I’ve made here are absolutely unparalleled to the ones I’ve made back at home,” Nunn said. “I think I’ve just been able to find people who care about me in a familial sense … I live with two roommates who remind me of my sister and the traits that I’ve seen in my parents … people who have constantly supported me and shown me unconditional love, but have also shown tough love.”
The biggest improvement for Nunn is building upon ASUR’s capacity to tell students “what and who their resources are.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity for people to get to know one another,” Nunn said. “There’s a ton of potential for communities to be bridged together … I think that on both the side of ASUR and different groups on campus, they need to be able to meet each other and find out who can support them.”
Voting begins today through Presence, and ends Friday Feb. 21 at 5 pm.
Photographs contributed by candidates or from official advertisements. Edited by Jono Ruhlman.