AS Elections 2016: Meet Student Trustee candidate Laura Zwicker
Laura Zwicker, 31, is running for AS Student Trustee this election. This would be her first time in an elected AS position. However, she’s no stranger to leadership. She is the current president of the Astronomy Club and former member of both the Natural History Club and Chemistry Club. “My involvement in student leadership has been kind of a progression over the past few years,” Zwicker said. “When I first got involved in Astronomy Club, I didn’t actually even want to join. I just did it because I knew it would be good for me.”
Zwicker knew a limited amount of people upon joining the club, but quickly established a relationship with the president, who encouraged her to run for the position of president.
During her time as president of the Astronomy Club, she grew more involved in AS, working with Lahari Indraganti when she was ICC Vice Chair and Jonathan Eady as his commissioner for Trustee as well as during his time as president of STEM Club.
Now, she wants to join their team. It is a huge commitment, considering she’s a STEM major—astrophysics, to be specific.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I’ve worked full time while going to school,” Zwicker said. “I’m used to burning the candle at both ends.”
According to Zwicker, STEM students tend to be underrepresented in AS because they are too busy to spend time concerning themselves with student government. That being said, she’s a big advocate for STEM majors.
However, she’s also interested in giving representation to other underrepresented voices, such as that of the homeless, veterans, financial aid students, working students and disabled students.
“I think that the Trustee and the board in general that’s selected has to be diverse enough to take into account all of that, have a lot of different focuses among them,” Zwicker said. “All of those are things that are important to me because, well other than veterans, I’ve been that student at one point or another or I’m still that student. I’m in the disabled students program. I’ve been a working student. I was actually homeless before I came to SMC. I’m on financial aid. I’m definitely very cognizant of students who don’t have a lot of voice or services provided for them.”
This sentiment is also shared by her slate, Fresh Start. In order to combat the problem, Zwicker has suggested a peer counseling program for underrepresented students where they can go to learn about services that are available to assist them.
“I know we have a lot of academic counselors, but I don’t really think there’s that much of a place for people who have other life issues that they could use advice for, and not necessarily being lumped in with psychological services,” Zwicker said.
Zwicker has identified the main problem SMC faces is paying equal attention to all groups on campus, like students, faculty, administration and classified staff.
“There needs to be a way to make sure that everyone can get what they need to be the most effective while they're here, whether it’s a student or a faculty or doing their job as admin,” Zwicker said. “I think that definitely bettering communication between all parties, coming to resolutions, so they can get everyone what they need is really critical.”
Zwicker said she is a “natural mediator,” which is why she initially chose this position and said she feels she has the skills to effectively act as a bridge between students and administration.
“Unless everybody feels heard and respected, then it’s just going to be more and more of the same of everyone feeling offended and not getting what they want and not feeling effective,” Zwicker said. “And I think more harmony, better communication between all parties would create a more effective AS board, more effective decisions overall with dealing with the administration, and a better situation for the students in general.”
According to Zwicker, current Student Trustee, Jonathan Eady has acted as a mentor to her.
She said, “He’s definitely showed me how to maintain that balance of advocating for students but also not alienating the administration or faculty to make sure that we can all come to the table and actually make progress with student needs instead of coming to a stale mate or just digging our heels in."
Editor’s Note: Changes have been made to the original version of this article. The original article stated that Laura Zwicker had been president of both Natural History and Chemistry club, which has been adjusted to say that she was only a member of said clubs. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.