AS and SMU presidential candidates share at election chapel

Presidential candidate teams for Associated Students and Student Missionary Union present their vision for 2011-2012 at the election chapel Monday.


Job Ang

Maegan Taylor, office manager of SMU and AS, opened the election chapel on Monday. She was followed by speeches by presidential candidates for both AS and the Student Missionary Union in which each individual shared their qualifications and visions for the next academic year. | Job Ang/THE CHIMES

Sarah Seman, Writer

“Give us the wisdom to decide who will lead us in the next school year,” prayed Maegan Taylor, Associated Students office manager, in Monday morning’s election chapel.

Presidential candidates for both AS and the Student Missionary Union were given just four minutes to share with the Biola community their qualifications and visions for the 2011-2012 school year.

SMU presidential candidates

Johnson targets better communication

Running for SMU president are juniors Chris Johnson, Thilini De Visser and Brian S.

Johnson said his vision is to make “this year’s ceiling our floor.” His goal is to build on the strengths that are already found in Biola students to further the great commission. Johnson said that within SMU there is something lacking – communication between ministries – and as SMU president, will aim to fix this.

“People do not follow programs,” Johnson said, “they follow people.” And for this reason, communication is paramount. He called students to understand that their passions, dreams, and talents are meant to be used for discipleship, closing his four minutes with the words: “Biola you are the movement the world is waiting for!”

International student De Visser offers different perspective

International student De Visser, offered “a different point of view,” to SMU. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Visser said that she was often on the receiving end of many mission organizations. She has seen children in the sex trade, persecution and war raging around her and she emphasized the importance of understanding the suffering that millions face globally.

“Biola, we live in a broken world,” she said. Visser said her holistic approach will help these topics and “bring in a worldview that will challenge our thinking.”

Brian seeks to empower students to serve God

During his freshman year, Brian walked into the SMU building and asked, “Are there toilets I can clean or floors I can vacuum?” Although the custodial position was already filled, his passion for serving found other outlets. Brian led a SMU mission trip to Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim country in Europe, and has also led a mission trip to China. Brian is currently on the SMU board of directors and he said that his intercultural studies major, business minor, and experience make him a perfect candidate for SMU president. He told students that his mission is to empower students by making SMU more accessible and by creating a meaningful follow-up to Missions Conference.

“Missions through Biola is about God’s glory through you,” he said emphasizing each student’s importance, “It’s his kingdom and your SMU.”

AS presidential candidates

First to speak for AS presidential elections were presidential and vice-presidential candidates junior John Drebinger and sophomore Janine Marderian.

Drebinger and Marderian present Biola Rise

“Our vision is called Biola Rise,” vice presidential candidate Marderian said. She said their plan is to help students make ideals a reality by fostering conversations that matter within the student body. Marderian said that she and Drebinger will help AS to listen and to act better.

“Connecting is a major part of our vision,” Drebinger said, referring to students, staff and faculty. He wants to make on-campus events more accessible to all of the student body, and to focus on creating career internships and more ministry opportunities on campus. Drebinger pointed out that students ultimately come to Biola to “develop as ministers of the gospel and become good stewards.” He told students not to vote for a platform, but to “vote for a vision that will change this community long after we are elected. Vote to see Biola rise.”

Seitz and Zimmerman share about Rooted campaign

The next candidential team was Kelsey Seitz and Kevin Zimmerman, both juniors.

Vice-presidential candidate Zimmerman began by reading Jeremiah 17: 8: “The man who trusts in God is like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.” He said their vision is rooted in that verse; they “seek to make AS and Biola deeply rooted and connected to what will help us grow in God.” Zimmerman said that leaders are the biggest servants of all and that they would strive to make AS an organization that is “rooted in Christ, rooted in students, and rooted in community.”

Presidential candidate Seitz told Biolans: “You are AS as a student of Biola University.” She also said she wants to make AS completely transparent to all of its members by publicly posting all of AS’ financial records online. She praised Biola for its outreach to La Mirada, but said she would also like to see La Mirada come into Biola. Seitz and Zimmerman plan to bring a farmer’s market to Biola, which will foster relationships and conversations with the community. She wants to see Biolans live out missions even within in their own zip code.

Gustafson and Hinton pursue passion

Junior Tomas Gustafson has been wanting to run for AS president since freshman year, and junior Alexis Hinton is at his side as a vice president candidate. In 2007, Gustafson was inspired by his friend, Matt Garcia, who became a Farfield city councilman at age twenty-one making him the youngest elected official in the nation. Garcia was shot and killed, and at his ceremony Gustafson said he vowed with others to live out Garcia’s call of “making tomorrow a better day.”

“I made a promise not to let him down,” Gustafson said, and he felt God place it on his heart to run for president. Gustafson and Hinton want to embrace diversity, increase outreach internationally and create better communication with SMU. Gustafson said he is not looking for sympathy from students.

“You all have a calling, a passion, a zeal,” he said, “I am just like you, and I am attempting to act upon it.” As a closing statement, Gustafson called for students to “never underestimate the power of passion.”

AS Party Platforms

Drebinger, Marderian: Biola Rise

Connect: Help AS to better listen and better act by connecting students, staff and faculty, and fostering conversation that matter.
Enable: Make the proposal process easier for students. Give students avenues to merge classroom knowledge with real world experience by focusing on career internships and ministry opportunities.
Thrive: Recognize individual value of student input by integrating ideas and needs of students into AS.

Seitz, Zimmerman: ROOTED

In Christ: Focus on the Roman’s 12 concept of utilizing the diverse qualities and skills within the student body to strengthen one another
In Students: Make AS inclusive and transparent to every member by posting the AS financial records online.
In Community: Create connections and welcoming conversations with La Mirada by continuing serve day and by bringing in a Farmer’s Market to the Biola campus.

Gustafson, Hinton: In Pursuit of Passion

Following Student’s Passions In Ministry: by increasing outreach of AS internationally and locally.
Following Student’s Passions In Stewardship: by showing students how to be responsible with their time and money.
Following Student’s Passions In Diversity: by catering to every group and increasing support for events in the arts, music and film.
Following Student’s Passions In Growth: by helping students to connect with graduate schools.

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