Sophomore political science major Alika Turton won a special election for UB Council student representative last week after the winner of the original election turned down the position.
The Spectrum sat down with Turton to discuss her platform — including better on-campus accessibility for students with disabilities, reduced bus wait times, and improved meal plans — and how she plans on approaching her new role.
The following has been edited for clarity and length.
The Spectrum: How do you plan on reaching out to different groups on campus and making sure their voices are heard?
Alika Turner: “I’ve been telling people the first thing I want to do is establish a town hall — getting a town hall and actually having administration, faculty, anyone that’s involved in the greater UB community to actually come in and hear what students are saying. Because at the end of the day, students are paying for a lot of what’s going on in the campus, and we aren’t getting what we need.”
TS: In your platform, one of the main points is about lowering bus wait times. How do you plan on doing this?
AT: “Currently, I work with UB Transportation. When it comes to any campus breaks where students have to go back home, I’m one of the bus captains. I already have a relationship with them, and I just want to see what the general guideline is for the bus drivers. I want to know what times they’re supposed to be coming and see if that is actually around the same time they say they’re gonna come. As you know, they say they come every five to 10 minutes, but a lot of times it ends up coming every 20 minutes.
“So kind of seeing what that looks like because students have places they need to be. I also want to see if there’s any way we can find more bus drivers to come and replace the people that actually have to go to their lunch breaks.”
TS: You also emphasize better services for students with disabilities. How do you plan on advocating for students with disabilities?
AT: “First off, I want to speak to them more. I want to come to more of their club events and see what issues they’re having right now. I have a friend who is disabled, and she lives in the dorms. It’s not the easiest thing for her to deal with. UB tries to promise and say that students are gonna get resources, but where are the resources?
“Even when it comes to the Accessibility Services Office, they can only help so much, and that’s not even fair to them, since they’re putting in the extra hours to try and help these students. I want to see where UB can try to allocate more money, and what students are asking for, and give them the space to actually speak to UB administration and faculty to see where they can step in to get them more resources.”
TS: Why do you think being the UB Council student representative is going to be the best platform to reach these goals?
AT: “Considering that the UB Council student representative is interacting with so many departments and so many parts of the greater UB community, my goal is to honestly be able to interact with other departments. There are, of course, so many senates on campus, and this position reaches a faculty administration, and a whole bunch of the UB student organizations.”
TS: What do you think separated you from the rest of the nominees?
AT: “In all the roles I’ve had at UB, it’s been more about creativity. I thought about, ‘What can I create to make students think it’s something that they should really get involved in?’ I feel like, for me at least, it’s been me bringing creativity to everything I have. Even with my flyers, I spent the time to actually let people see what my platform is. Even if they haven’t gotten to meet me, they still know what I’m about. It’s one thing to say, ‘Go vote for me,’ but it’s also another thing to let people see your ideas and actually have a platform for them to actually speak with you about.”
TS: As a sophomore, do you think you’re prepared to deal with the intensity of this role?
AT: “I’ve been involved with student government since sixth grade. So between sixth and eighth grade, I was the vice president for each of my classes. And then when it came to high school, I was the overall high school president but also each of my class presidents. So I already understand what it means to handle a budget. Right now, I’m the associate director for National Residence Hall Honorary. So I’ve already had to chair spaces, just like the student representative has to chair the call. A lot of the things that the student representative has to do, whether it be chairing spaces or dealing with the budget for grants, programming events, I already understand how to do.”
TS: What motivates you to pursue these leadership roles?
AT: “What really motivates me is knowing that I’m just honestly like everyone else. I don’t really think of the title, I’m just like a normal student like everyone else. I know what it means for students to not feel heard and see themselves being represented in spaces. So I want to be the representation in spaces and just have students feel like they’re actually being seen because we can always try to make the UB campus a better community, but how are we actually trying to do that? We can always try and create policies, but what is being shown to students on the outside that the student representative is doing, and how do they actually connect to students?”
Victoria Hill is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org