Emily Kuester prevailed in the UW-Milwaukee 2017 Student Association election for president with 1,968 students voting. According to SA, the results were as follows:
Who is Kuester and what does she bring to the table? Read these mini profiles of each candidate by Media Milwaukee’s Rukiya Stewart, written shortly before the election.
Emily Kuester currently held the title of Student Association vice president and hopes to take it one step further and become president. A junior, film major and former Student Association senator, Kuester’s role as vice president is already similar to that of president, so she knows she can do the job and wants to continue the work the Student Association has been doing.
“What I want to do as president is just let students know that they can come to the Student Association with their concerns and with their problems, and that we’re on the students’ side.”
A big issue she’s focused on is mental health awareness. “Mental health is not really talked about enough, but it affects all of us. You can’t succeed in school work if you’re not mentally there.”
Sexual assault prevention and domestic abuse prevention are also on her list of issues to tackle. Kuester is currently working with a by-standard intervention program that may be brought to UWM in the future. If the program is brought to UWM, Kuester then would like to see it expanded into the Milwaukee community and possibly into Milwaukee Public Schools taught to kids since some are introduced to sexual assault at a young age.
Kuester grew up in Avoca, WI. Adopted by a white family, she was one of the few African American people in the town. She got interested in films because she wanted to tell stories that showed different perspectives through entertainment that people could still learn from.
One thing Kuester wants students to know is that even though she’s active in student government and running for president, she’s still one of them.
“I’m a student too. As much I want to be president and it’s like a big task, obviously it’s a big role. I’m still a student. I’m still someone people can talk to, and people can relate to. I think sometimes people see student government and they think politics immediately, and they’re like ‘nope, don’t want to do it, don’t want to get involved’, and it’s just not what student association is and it’s not who I am at all. I’m like one of the least political people, but I just want to help people and I just want to support the students here. I’m really genuine in why I’m running.”
Cuba native Adrian Palau is a junior political science major who got inspired to run after hearing about the possible dismantling of UWM’s student organizations if students opt out of paying for them in the upcoming school year. He felt the strong need to do something about it and wants to be the one to let the students know what’s going on.
If something isn’t done soon, Palau says next year’s students may come to find UWM to be a completely different place than the one they are used to.
“All the great things that we offer here might be gone. It’s a thousand times easier to protect something now that’s in danger than to fight for something that’s already gone.”
Palau is a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. The support he receives and the sense of community he feels from the frat is something he wants to extend to all of UWM. In fact, Palau’s main focus for his campaign is communities on campus. He says we need to be more connected. It’s a value that he learned early on in his life.
Born in Cuba under a strict dictatorship government, Palau moved to Madison, Wisconsin at 4-years-old with his mother, father and sister after his father won a visa lottery. In the middle of winter, Palau and his family got to Madison and were welcomed with open arms into the community.
“It was then that I got a fire in me,” said Palau. “The one thing that’s always stuck with me in terms of politics, in terms of everything, is the idea of helping out others and making sure you have a good community. That’s literally been the one driving force in my life. Communities welcomed us to the United States. Communities helped us when we needed it most. And without them I wouldn’t be here.”
After college, Palau is thinking of law school but would also take a job writing policy ideas and making business predictions for corporations. For now, he just wants students to vote and know that he wants what’s best for the campus.
Benjamin Gerard has attended UWM for two years after transferring from a smaller, conservative college. There wasn’t much diversity or campus life at his former school, so UWM was a shock to the political science major.
“It was really difficult to find the cafeteria and like teachers’ offices and classrooms, and the first semester, people were so generous and so helpful. I want every UWM student to have that experience. That there’s a sense of community, that people are working together for a common good. Like I don’t want anything from you or know you but I’m totally willing to help you.”
A junior this year, the Germantown native was student body president at his old school and made sure budgets were passed. In high school, he was a part of the gaming club and young democrats.
If elected to student association president, Gerard wants to eliminate sexual assault at UWM, encourage more LGTB rights on paper and in practice, make sure centers and organizations are able to receive adequate funding, and lobbying at state level to lower or eliminate interest on student loans.
Gerard also wants to advertise the Student Association more and let students know exactly who they are and how to get involved.
Gerard currently manages a small business and is a research assistant for the sociology department, which he says will help him as president.
“As a research assistant, I have experience conducting research into various topics including campus policy. I can make claims, support them with evidence and get results.”
After college, Gerard says he may join the Airforce, then graduate school, and then settle down with his girlfriend.