Four students pursue College of Public Programs Senate seats

Four criminology and criminal justice students are running for the College of Public Program's two student government Senate seats, including the two incumbent senators. (Madeline Pado/DD)

When voting opens Tuesday, students in the College of Public Programs will have more choices for whom to represent them in the Senate than ever before on the Downtown campus.

Each candidate said the identity of the college is responsible for the historic turnout, with each major geared toward trying to make a difference.

“Students in the college feel obligated to do something for their community,” current Public Programs Sen. Cecilio Porras said.

The four students running for the college’s two Senate seats all have the same major — criminology and criminal justice — but they are approaching their candidacies from different ways.

The youngest candidate, a freshman, is Arizona Students Association intern Caitelia Coppelman, who said she wants to join USGD and fight against rising cost of college attendance for students, including textbook affordability and tuition.

“I want to change the world,” Coppelman said. “It’s just the internal drive someone has to help others.”

She doesn’t have any specific initiatives she would start working on in office, but Coppelman said her first step would be to talk to her constituents to see what they want changed in the college.

Coppelman said her experiences mentoring other freshmen and helping students work through personal problems will help her as a senator.

She also said playing sports in high school helped build leadership skills.

The oldest candidate, 25-year-old junior Victoria Simpson, said four years of work as a criminal-defense paralegal has given her experience and maturity that sets her apart from the other candidates.

She received her associate degree from Pima Community College in 2007 and then worked for a Tucson law firm. This is her first semester at ASU.

Simpson said she can see how her short time on campus could be a concern for voters, but she believes her maturity, leadership experience and willingness to focus on school will help make up for her little time on campus.

“You have to have passion for helping other people,” Simpson said.

If elected, Simpson’s main initiative would be to talk to high school students about college.

She sees it as imperative that college leaders not only make sure to help current students, but foster leaders at a younger age who can go to college and continue being good leaders on campus.

“It’s not fair for us to just focus on ourselves. We need to focus on the kids coming after us,” Simpson said.

The two sitting senators running for re-election are juniors Porras and Joey Amonett.

Porras said he and Amonett have been swamped during the election season and haven’t been able to campaign as much as they would have liked.

To make up for this, they are hoping students will recognize their names on the ballot, Porras said.

“We’re banking on a lot of those votes to come in,” he said. “It makes it a little easier to campaign.”

Last year, both Porras and Amonett were write-in candidates, so voters needed to know exactly whom they were supporting.

This year, all four candidates were involved in the USGD-sponsored debate on March 27, which brought their individual campaigns to students.

Next year, Amonett said he wants to get the majors within the college to work together on student engagement. The senators are the liaison between the student government and the students, Amonett said.

Porras said he is looking forward to next year because the dean of the college, Jonathan Koppell, will be settled in his position and ready to help students.

This semester, Koppell was too busy getting up to speed with everything that his new position entails to work with the senators much, Porras said.

Porras said the experience he and Amonett have is the most important trait they have as candidates. There was a lot to learn this year, from public relations to how clubs are organized, he said.

“A person can come in with a lot of initiatives and a lot of hope,” Porras said, “but if you don’t have the other things first, the procedural things, it’s going to be tough.”

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