The following is an interview conducted with Presidential nominee Justin Irwin. Elections will be held on April 5th and 6th.
Kay: Please state your name, age, year at Parkside and major.
Irwin: My name is Justin Irwin. I’m originally from Greenville, Michigan. (This is my) fourth year here. I’m 22 years old. My major is International Relations. I understand that there will be an Asian Studies minor coming soon, so I plan to minor in that.
Kay: Are you involved in any other organizations on campus?
Irwin: I’m a member of PAO, which is the Parkside Asian Organization. I was an executive board member. I’ve also done some work with the Parkside International Club, and I’ve done some work with Latinos Unidos, although I am not an official member.
Kay: Why are you running President of Parkside Student Government? What made you run for president?
Irwin: What I want to do as president is give the government back to the students, and I plan on doing this by getting the senators out of the office. (I want them to) stop intermingling with just themselves and actually go out and intermingle with the students. I want to do this by getting them to pick up garbage around campus and attend events around campus….getting them to do pretty much whatever they can do to integrate with the students.
If we can do that, we are going to have a more responsive student government when it comes to relations with the students. When it comes to the students’ opinions, they are going to be more responsive about it. Especially with the new constitution that is up for vote… we had orgs speak out very adamantly, very sternly against the proposed constitution because it cuts a lot of the org seats. Well, the student government essentially just laughed at us. They tried making a compromise with us, but it was not really a compromise.
That’s what really pushed me to run. I actually decided to run because I ran out of excuses not to. That’s essentially why I am running.
Kay: What specifically do you think your qualifications are? I know you talked about your involvement with the various orgs, and you want to see change. What can you specifically bring to PSG and to the student body as a whole?
Irwin: Well, I do stuff with the military a lot. I know the chain of command; I know how to work with the chain of command. I know how to instruct people politely, but when it comes to a student government, I don’t consider a leadership position. I consider student government as a student service position. You have to serve the students. That’s the goal of the student government. And my qualification is that I want to lead the service.
Kay: If elected into office, what specifically do you want to change? Where would your priorities be and what would be on your agenda?
Irwin: One of the first things I want to do is form an athletics committee that consists of no less than two senators and two athletes to maintain communication between the athletic department and the student government. Another thing I’d like to do is actually host a presidential clean up where I go out and clean up garbage and volunteers can go with me. We would do this a couple of times throughout the semester when there is not snow on the ground. But, essentially what I want to do is just make this environment more relaxed for the students, make the government more relaxed for the students. Have open minds, open opinions, not drafting out radical legislation. I will veto any legislation that grows the size of the government. I think the government is stepping beyond its bounds, and it’s time to bring it back to where it can be a functioning body in society.
Kay: How have you and your running mate prepared thus far in regards to elections and campaigning, and what will you continue to do in the next week leading up to elections?
Irwin: Well, we’ve had signs, business cards and t-shirts made, we put a lot of money in to the campaign. We wanted to order stickers, but they wouldn’t be done in time. Essentially, I’ve gone around to different athletes and orgs talking and discussing… (Nelson) has been rallying LU-which is his org, he’s the president of LU- to stand up and vote no on the constitution, vote yes on the weight room (expansion), and just vote yes on Nelson Senda and myself.
Kay: What do you think makes you and Nelson stand out from the other candidates?
Irwin: Well, Nelson and I are the only ones that are not active members of the student government. We are the only ones who are coming as students into the government trying to change things. Everything else is the government going into itself and trying to change it, and it’s not going to work that way. They are not responsive to the students. Nelson and I have both tried taking on the student government and we have both failed a couple of times. We need to come from the outside in.
Kay: So you feel that PSG needs a different approach?
Kay: Do you think that because you are involved in PAO and Nelson is involved in LU that it will bring in a diverse range of votes?
Irwin: I sure hope so. We have always prided ourselves on being the most diverse university in Wisconsin, and it seems as though student government has done the opposite. It is not that student government is not diverse, it’s that, by cutting stipends to e-board members on the orgs, they have actually limited the voice of diversity on campus. So that’s why I really want to bring that back to the campus.
Kay: What is the one message that you and Nelson are trying to portray? What is it that you stand up for the most?
Irwin: Giving the government back to the students, instead of the other way around.
Kay: I think you have answered all of my questions. Thank you very much.
Irwin: Thank you for this opportunity.