Meet the Candidates: Mia Jorgensen
Incumbent Mia Jorgensen is running for student representative. Alexa Strudler /// The Spectrum
Mia Jorgensen, the incumbent University Council Student Representative, is running for re-election.
Jorgensen said she serves as a link between students' concerns and administrators' decisions - something she feels is an essential task at such a large university. Jorgensen is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of anthropology. In addition to her position as the student representative for 2011-12, Jorgensen has been extensively involved with various student associations.
Jorgensen represented the department of anthropology as a Graduate Student Association senator from 2009-11. She also served as the business agent for the Graduate Student Employment Union from 2009 until Dec. 2011. Currently, she is the vice president of the Graduate Student Employees Union.
Her main goal is to bridge the gap between students and administrators. Jorgensen will address this gap by voicing students' concerns and questions to the council. She also wants to better convey UB's reasons for decisions, such as tuition increases.
"I think the UB Council is important because you can make a positive difference by voicing student concerns," Jorgensen said. "It's not about winning for me; it's just about getting students to become aware."
As the student representative, Jorgensen has worked toward better communication between the student body and the administration. She brought student concerns before the council this past year, like student dislike for HUB, the late disbursement of financial aid, and the imposed international student fee increase - things she felt were done without adequate explanation.
"We are not sure as students where our money is going," Jorgensen said. "It is really important that administrators talk to students about fees like the academic excellence fee."
Despite improvements, Jorgensen feels students are still hazy about SUNY 2020, with concerns ranging from how faculty is being hired to how certain departments are left behind in the overall plan for making UB a major research institution. All of these indicate a greater need to divulge specific details to the student body so that they don't feel left in the dark, according to Jorgensen
"Our concerns as students are all the same," Jorgensen said. "Education is expensive and we would like to know why we are paying more, how it is affecting our education, and how the university is using the money to improve our education."
Jorgensen was worried by the problems with financial aid over the year, so she spoke to Jennifer Pollard, UB's interim director of financial aid. Jorgensen said that when she vocalized the problems students faced, it sped up the process of distributing financial aid and even helped result in the creation of fiscal advisers.
After Jorgensen's friends were assaulted last year, she became concerned that graduate students had nowhere to voice their issues. This prompted her to collaborate with former Provost Harvey Stenger and Barbara Ricotta, associate vice president for Student Affairs. They developed a mandatory training program for faculty and teaching assistants to ensure they know how to act in case their students face problems.
Jorgensen said she believes her year as the student representative has been very successful and pleasant.
She feels that while she has tried to reach out to lots of students, she could still improve and seek out more opinions - especially from undergraduate students.
Jorgensen, if re-elected, wants to work with the GSA president to create a council of students that encompasses all major student organizations. She wants to further increase student communication and representation by collaborating in the creation of this council.
"To be honest, I think in this race both Daniel Ovadia [the other candidate] and I are qualified," Jorgensen said. "I just really want students to care, and irrespective of who wins, you'll have a candidate who's passionate and willing to work on behalf of the student."
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