This week news intern Grace McCauley sat down with ASLMU president Ken Cavanaugh and vice president Emily Sinsky to talk about T-Pain, free period products and mental health resources on campus.
1. What made you guys decide to run for ASLMU president and vice president? Was there a moment?
Ken Cavanaugh: Yes, so I was sitting in my Women and Religion class and elections were coming up but I didn’t know when. For some reason, I was just thinking about who was going to be the next ASLMU president and vice president, and I whipped out my phone and I sent Emily a text and said, “I think you would be a really good ASLMU president. You should run!”
Emily Sinsky: I was on the U-Hall bridge walking to class and I remember getting this text and at first I was like, “Oh! Ken probably wants to run!” because I feel like if you want to run for something you’ll put out feelers that way ... So, I thought Ken wanted to run and I was like, “I will if you do!”... I thought Ken would be the only other person I could picture myself doing this with. So then we decided that we should run together.
K.C.: But, it was kind of a process over three or four days of us joking about it, but then also being like, “Wait a second, we have things we want to do and things we want to change.”
2. How has it been so far?
K.C.: It's been good for the most part. It's definitely busy, it definitely requires a lot of work. But also I think that it's useful being the people in charge because we definitely have the mindset that as important as ASLMU is and as much of a responsibility that it is, we also know that we are students and also human beings. So I think we do a good job of trying to maintain life balance for us and everybody else on ASLMU so that we can all work together to make sure that things are getting done, but also that we are taken care of as people.
E.S.: Sometimes in these kinds of positions you get a lot of ego like, “Oh, since freshman year I wanted to run, it's my time!” That kind of thing. I think especially with Ken it's a team effort and there's not a whole lot of ego associated with things. I can’t emphasize enough if we didn’t have the leadership team that we have, it would be so much more stressful. All of them are so good at doing their job—like we got T-Pain—but really Maddy [Situmeang, Chief Programming Officer] got T-Pain.
3. So, how much involvement did you have in Fallapalooza?
K.C.: I don’t go to concerts; like I love music but that's not my thing. I knew that going in. That was one of my biggest concerns running for this position ... so I had zero say, I think Emily had more.
E.S.: I love that people love Fallapalooza, like I can enjoy it because I know that people have fun. I’m not really into raves or festivals; I’ve never been to Coachella. I think what's nice is our programming chair knows what's hip. I remember at our leadership retreat at the beginning of the summer we were throwing around ideas for different themes and Maddy was saying, “Oh it would be cool if we had a throwback theme,” and I was like “Oh yeah that would be so cool we could have someone like T-Pain!” In my mind, T-Pain was absolutely out of the question, like he’s won Grammys and stuff ... Maddy really just took [the job] and worked super hard to get [T-Pain].
3. What issue are you guys planning on tackling first?
K.C.: So many things. We’re working and in the final stages of getting free period products in some of the bathrooms across campus. We’re doing a pilot program, so that's an issue that we’re tackling now and tackling in a strategic way where ... we’re hoping that we are going to be able to get them everywhere by the end of the year.
E.S.: I actually just got an email that the first farmers market on campus is going to from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25. We have an awesome list of vendors. We’re partnering with the [LMU] Wellness Initiative that's happening — that’s kind of the big launch. So, we’re going to have a bi-weekly farmers market starting on Sept. 25. That was one of our big initiatives ... so that's really exciting seeing it come to fruition.
4. What issue on campus is a long-term goal that you want to tackle in the future or that you hope the next ASLMU president and vice president will tackle?
K.C.: We had stuff about mental health on our platform and it was about having more mental health resources for students of color and queer students, which I think will always be a project that needs to be reevaluated and reimagined and work continued through the future. I can’t imagine when that will not be something that we need to address. But Student Life as a division has been working on the Wellness Initiative, which is just basically a more comprehensive attempt to publicize LMU’s mental health resources to students and also create new opportunities for mental health resources. I think that's one great thing that's happening right now, but in an open and transparent conversation with the people organizing the Wellness Initiative, [I] think that it could improve in many ways. I’m not sure how much we’re going to be able to do that this year, because I also think it's something that the student body needs to respond to in order to negotiate what needs are not being met.
5. Ken, you are a women's and gender studies major and [Emily], you are an international relations major. How does that impact your leadership style?
K.C.: Emily and I are both school people. We’re not really student government type kids, but I think the things that we’re studying have pretty fundamentally shaped how we’ve approached being in these positions. Definitely from a gender studies perspective, learning about student movements and student activism and the kinds of change and power that students hold on college campuses has informed me even wanting to run in the first place.
E.S.: I didn’t really realize how much I’ve learned about diplomacy in my classes until I had to put diplomacy in action in this job ... I kind of went into this thinking, “Oh I don’t have management skills” or things like that, but there's definitely a lot that you learn in school that I think you don’t realize until you’re in the moment.
6. After college, what do you want to do? Have you thought about getting involved in politics?
E.S.: Probably not.
K.C.: I would love to continue going to school and maybe look into doing something in higher education like becoming a professor or potentially going into community organizing and social work. But, no, not like politics.
E.S.: I interned at the City of Los Angeles and I was surprised at how much I liked it. I really didn’t realize that having a job in higher education is something that's possible until [I got to college] and got to know people who have those jobs. So for me there's been so many staff and faculty members who’ve had such a huge impact on my life. So I feel like part of me is saying, “yeah, I should stay either at LMU or a different institution and create the space that I’ve been such a beneficiary of.” I also just love learning, like I’d love to just stay in school.
7. If there's one thing you want the student population to know, what would it be?
E.S.: You have more power than you think you do. That's something that we’ve learned in this job. People will give you the respect that you command with different things.
K.C.: Quit things! Like, quit clubs that you don’t like ... but definitely my advice would be to take back your time and think about how you want to be living your life and sometimes that means quitting things and that should be more normal and acceptable than it is.