Student body candidates share perspectives during debate

The 2024-2025 student body election was held March 5 in the Gardner living room. During the production of this debate, the student candidates were given the opportunity to state their goals and what they would bring to the table if elected to the positions. Cora Mark | Sun News Daily

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“The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope,” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said.

Each candidate running in this year’s election is running with a specific impact they will make on the next generation of Utah Tech University students.

The candidates running for student body president include:

  • Sam New, a senior individualized studies major from Leeds
  • Bella Estes, a junior communication studies major from Scottsdale, Arizona

The candidates running for vice president of academics include:

  • Kolby Spector, a sophomore mathematics education major from Fort Ann, New York
  • Alvaro Lopez, a junior finance major from Lima, Peru

The candidates running for vice president of clubs and organizations include:

  • Shellsea Ramirez Fuentes, a junior individualized studies major from St. George
  • Jimena Roque, a sophomore elementary education major from Wells, Nevada

The debate for student body president, vice president of clubs and organizations and vice president of academics occurred March 5 at 1 p.m. in the Gardner building. Voting for every position opened directly after the debate at 2 p.m.

The hour-long debate allowed the candidates the opportunity to share what they stand for and what their campaigns represent.

Sam New

“I think financial challenges are the most challenging thing for students,” New said.

He said finances are a top stressor for students. His goal is to create a scholarship portal for every student to have easy access to applying and receiving scholarships to alleviate some of that burden.

“Being a student at Utah Tech is being a person,” New said. “I think beyond positions and beyond organizations, we are all just human beings with interests, and Utah Tech is a place where we can take those interests and thrive and explore those.”

Bella Estes

“When I came on my campus tour of Utah Tech, I had no idea where I was going to go or what I was going to do,” Estes said. “I came to this campus and throughout the tour, I had this feeling… You get that feeling that this is your home, that this is the place that you want to study and be involved. As I got that feeling, I saw something in this university.”

Estes made a point of not only attracting new students to Utah Tech but keeping existing students here as well. She also emphasized outcomes for students — trying to get every student at Utah Tech to have the best experience possible while here.

“Utah Tech has made me the person I am today,” Estes said. “I am extremely grateful for that, and I really want to share that with other students as well.”

Kolby Spector

“One of my standpoints is empowerment, specifically empowerment through knowledge,” Spector said. “We have had over 60 bills submitted this year, and I would like to continue that next year and even top that.”

Spector called funding and a more equitable learning experience for all as well as bridging the gap between underclassmen and upperclassmen.

Spector said: “The opportunities and events that UTSA has here has helped me blossom personally and as a student. Now, running for VP is just about really being more involved on campus, being a bigger part of UTSA, and offering those experiences and opportunities to students.”

Alvaro Lopez

“I am running for VP of academics because I feel that I am a representative for many communities on campus,” Lopez said. “I am really excited to be representing all of the international community. I could become the first international student that is VP of academics, and that’s a fact that really excites me.”

Lopez emphasized incentivizing students to be proactive about their own success and embracing equality and the diversity of campus.

“My goal is to return every opportunity to students,” Lopez said.

Shellsea Ramirez Fuentes

“At Utah Tech, being here is being home, and I think that is the easiest way to put it,” Fuentes said. “Someone who was born and raised here and is going to the university that is in your hometown is crazy… I was just going to come here and get enough credits, then leave. Then I got here and joined a club, and now I am right here in front of you.”

Fuentes stressed communication first and foremost by everyone top down. She also made a point of the importance of promoting different clubs and organizations on campus through collaboration.

Fuentes said: “Regardless of what my journey looks like, I want to look back and know that I did absolutely everything I could for myself, my peers and those that are coming after me. That is why I am running now.”

Jimena Roque

“To me, being a part of Utah Tech means being involved,” Roque said.

Roque emphasized collaboration between various campus organizations and clubs for a more interconnected college experience. She also emphasized inclusion.

“My freshman year I had the opportunity to get involved with Code Red, and I think that really helped me with a lot of opportunities for me now,” Roque said. “I’m able to be the director of Code Red which has helped me build a lot of relationships with different people, and I am super thankful for that. I want to use that experience and help get other students involved as well.”

Voting is live and ends March 7 at 3 p.m.