Q&A with MSSA candidates


Dolly Baruah

Dolly Baruah, MSU Big Ideas Party
Why are you running for president?
It was a difficult but a wise decision for me. I did not make the decision alone, my friends, fellow students encouraged me to run for it. I believe that a president has lots of responsibility but at the same time will have the resources in hand that the president can use for the betterment of our students and I realized that I have ideas and clearly crafted plans that I want to implement for our students and for the university. Running for the presidential election will empower me to help the students by still being one of them. So, I made the decision to run for MSSA president.

What makes you the most qualified candidate for president?
I believe that in order to be the student president of a diverse university like MSU, president should have apt knowledge about the various cultures and the various societal demand coming from the same, should be all ears to their short comings, should possess compassion, integrity and confidence. Also I have garnered a lot of experience serving as the president of the International Students and I believe this has proved to be an advantageous stance for me.

What do you see as being the top issues facing MSU students and MSSA?
From students point of view I believe there are many issues to be tackled with. However the primary issue is that of unawareness- the fact that many students are unaware about MSSA. MSSA. This implies that they are also deprived of the knowledge that they are the ones who can bring about the change they deserve. The solution to this problem is establishing better links between the students and the MSSA.

If elected, what do you and your party hope to accomplish?
Our main goal is to bring collaboration between the students and represent the entire MSU Students as one and present how unity can bring strength to the university.

What is one important element that sets you and your party apart from your competitors?
MSU Big Ideas Party consist of diverse group of students leaders from all the corners of the university. And I feel very proud of my team because we all agree with one saying that, “We don’t like to speak about changes all the time, we want to make the change. And I am sure if my team gets the opportunity to present at MSSA, they will work very hard for the students.

Gracie Smith

Gracie Smith, MAV Party
Why are you running for president?
I am running for president because I believe students on our campus deserve an optimal experience. I have dedicated my college career to serving students. Whether it be academic or student life, I have pursued creating positive change through various leadership opportunities. I believe that collaboration is the only way we can advance to meet student need and I would ensure that any decision took many perspectives into account. I want our campus to have a climate of transparency, hard work, and empathy.

What makes you the most qualified candidate for president?
I have had the unique opportunity to serve on senate through various roles. I currently serve as the Academic Affairs Coordinator and as a Residential Life senator. Having experience with both academic and student affairs has allowed me to understand all facets of the university. I have also worked with other universities and passed legislation at the state level within MnSCU by attending all MSUSA conferences this year. While I have the necessary experience, I think my biggest qualification is my passion. I love our university and I spend all of my free time in meetings or working with committees to improve our campus. I think my experience and drive will allow me to best meet our campus’ needs.

What do you see as being the top issues facing MSU students and MSSA?
I would argue that one of the top issues for both involves transparency. There are many avenues for students to speak with their representation or submit concerns, but no one knows how. I think bridging the gap between students, senators, faculty and staff would allow student concern to be met. Once we open the door for conversation, we will be able to communicate effectively and work to decrease sexual assaults and support survivors, decrease our carbon footprint, implement inclusive campus facilities, and create a healthy

campus climate where all Mavericks have equal opportunities and can thrive.

If elected, what do you and your party hope to accomplish?
Some of pieces of our platform include improving the online education experience, reducing textbook

expenses, creating inclusive housing options, increasing collaboration between campus entities, and implementing a waste initiative. We hope to motivate students to reach their potential, advocate for students who need support, and validate student concern by recognizing and fulfilling student needs. For more platform specifics, please visit

What is one important element that sets you and your party apart from your competitors?
Our party is intentionally comprised of individuals with diverse levels of experience and involvement. We have those who know how to realistically accomplish our goals combined with the passion for the university and student life. That combination will allow us to make concrete changes and serve the students best.

Faical Rayani
Faical Rayani

Faical Rayani, Maverick Family Movement
Why are you running for president?
I’ve been contemplating long and hard about this with my running mate Maria Ruiz. I’ve gained a substantial amount of leadership experience in my years at MNSU. I’m confident I can make this school a better place and that is what myself and The Maverick Family Movement will strive for. We are not just trying to be elected for the position or for the resume booster. We all have a stake in this campus and in this school. We want to make MNSU better for the next generations to come. I want to be able to look back at MNSU when I graduate and say that I truly helped in making our school a better place through productive politics and effectively voicing the concerns of my constituents.

I would like to see better representation for every voice on this campus. If anything, that is what I have taken form my leadership experience. Being elected to any position means nothing if you ignore your constituents. We listen to everybody.

The Maverick Family Movement has many grand ideas for this campus that we promise to push forward with your help. Most of these ideas come from our voice, as students.

What makes you the most qualified candidate for president?
I will not compare myself to anyone. However, as I mentioned before, my opinion is that I’ve attained a substantial amount of leadership experience over my time at MNSU. I’ve spent every day of my past two years from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. devoting myself to my fellow students and I am grateful for every leadership opportunity I’ve been given.

As far as senate, I’ve been on student senate for two years. I know how the system work. I’ve served on various committees.

I feel that my devotion to the students, my passion for the school, and my experience make me the best candidate.

What do you see as being the top issues facing MSU students and MSSA?
Recruitment and Retention. MNSU is doing great in this aspect especially as far international and multicultural relative to other schools. But we set the standard for ourselves. Just because we are doing better than St. Cloud does not mean we don’t have a problem.

Diversity – Being an international student, I understand the issues of equal representation. Our school does a fantastic job of forging a kind, welcoming and friendly environments for our students of non-traditional backgrounds. I feel truly comfortable here as an international students.

However, if I said I don’t see instances of racism and discrimination on our campus, I would be lying. It is no secret that diversity and equal representation is a struggle that plagues us. A struggle that we will continue to have but should never give up on.

We’ve done our best to include every student population in The Maverick Family Movement and we promise that no voice will be left unheard.

If elected, what do you and your party hope to accomplish?
We promise to push every item we have mentioned on our Platform. We promise to have equal representation and voice the concerns of everyone regardless of race, creed or religion. We promise to have difficult conversations that everyone else is afraid to have.

We promise to represent you but we can only do that only do that with your help.

What is one important element that sets you and your party apart from your competitors?
We are different from all the other parties. It is no secret that we came out and started campaigning over a week before any other party did. We set the standard that everyone else is now trying to match. The Maverick Family Movement is a strong presence thanks to the hard work and dedication of every member of our party.

In my opinion, we represent every population on campus. We have a person from every non-traditional background. We also have people on our party that are white as rice because we recognize that the student population is composed of more than just internationals and non-traditional students. We firmly believe everyone deserves adequate representation and it is our responsibility to carry your voice.

What also sets us apart is that we are willing to push the bike share program through Maverick Adventures. Maverick Adventures has proposed something very cool that no other party is willing to discuss to my knowledge. We urge you to check their 32 page proposal on their Facebook page. Through their proposal, our school will be able to offer Bike Rentals, Outdoors equipment and adventures!


Ayoola Okuribido, MAV Party
ayoolaWhy did you decide to run alongside Gracie Smith as the MAV party ticket?
Gracie and I first met in my public speaking class last semester, the first thing I noticed was her dedication to whatever project or assignment she took on. She proactively took charge of one of the little group projects we were assigned in class, and I thought to myself “she is certainly a leader I would follow.” I could never have imagined how accurate I was when I was elected off campus senator this semester, the work I have seen her put in as academic affairs coordinator is inspiring. I could not be more honored to be her running mate and I believe we will do great things at MSU.

What do you see as the role of the vice president? If elected, how do you see yourself fulfilling this role?
I see the vice president as the president’s right hand. Working closely with the president, assuming the president’s roles when needed. Also bridging the gap between the president and the rest of student leadership. I have a lot of student experience as well as leadership experience from my involvement in multiple RSOs. These experiences along with my collaborative persona make me the perfect right hand man, knowing when to step in and lead and when to step back and follow.

Why are you and Gracie the most qualified ticket in this election?
Gracie has a lot of leadership experience with student government and I have a lot of student experience with RSO participation and student involvement in general. I believe together we compliment each other and are capable of great things.

TJ Bushey

TJ Bushey, MSU Big Ideas Party
Why did you decide to run alongside Dolly Baruah as the MSU Big Ideas Party ticket?
I chose to run alongside the Big Ideas party as the Vice President party ticket for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I view my team as an outstanding group of driven, worldly and cultured people – they are what MSU needs to make positive change. The visions, plans, ideas, and goals that this team feels passionately about achieving are second to none. I am proud and honored to have been chosen and accepted by them to be their Vice-presidential candidate.

What do you see as the role of the vice president? If elected, how do you see yourself fulfilling this role?
The role of the Vice-President to me is to act primarily as a form of support to the president and the rest of the team in order to ethically, efficiently, and effectively achieve our goals. Also, going hand in hand with what the responsibility of being the Vice-President means to me, is to be a driving force behind all of the changes our team wishes to make. Part of this would mean managing. I would be responsible for not only supporting our entire team with achieving their goals, but also holding them accountable and keeping track of progress to monitor the positive change that we promise to deliver.

Why are you and Dolly the most qualified ticket in this election?
The Big Ideas Party and I are the most qualified ticket in this election for a plethora of reasons, more than I can describe in this limited text. However, what sets us apart is our great diversity, phenomenal determination, and spanning perspective. We have a team that is comprised of people with roots originating from three continents. This is incredibly advantageous to us because of our combined exposure to so many cultures. We can see things from many perspectives and view our differences as an intense strength to work together to bring the best solutions to the table for student initiative and issues.

Maria Ruiz
Maria Ruiz

Maria Ruiz Mendez, Maverick Family Movement
Why did you decide to run alongside Faical Rayani on the Maverick Family Movement party ticket?
I decided to run alongside Faical Rayani because I have known him for more than a year now. During this year, we have worked together on several different instances such as in MSSA, ISA and RHA. He is work ethic and commitment to our school made it clear that he was the right person to run with. Our unique experience—combined we have three years of experience in the senate and on the other, side we are highly involved on our campus, which gives us a diverse perspective to significant campus issues. The moment we walked into MNSU campus we knew that we were part of a community we wanted to serve and help make better. I am fully committed to our MNSU community and the future of all the students. We know what it takes to pass changes and work with students, faculty, and administrators. We are incredibly motivated to make sure student voices are heard, and we promise to bring about progressive changes.

What do you see as the role of the vice president? If elected, how do you see yourself fulfilling this role?
In my three enriching years at MNSU I have worked hard as a dedicated, active and involved member of our MNSU community. As a current senator. I have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively and successfully serve as the MSSA Vice President. I have also served as the president of an RSO and a community advisor in McElroy H2, I have been involved in many MNSU clubs and activities and have spearheaded successful campaigns and programs. As Vice President, I will make sure that every student is represented and that his or her voice is heard. I look to serve our MNSU community by effectively and successfully bringing the concerns and needs of the students to the MNSU faculty and administration. The purpose of the MSSA is to serve the students. I believe in an open door policy and town hall meetings. Electing me as your Vice President and Faical Rayani as President guarantees that your concerns and needs will not only be heard but they will also be addressed.

Why are you and Faical Rayani the most qualified ticket in this election?
Faical and I are committed to strengthening the unity, voice, and efficacy of each and every student at MNSU. The first step in this effort is to ensure that Minnesota State Student Association is accessible to all of MNSU 15,193 students. We are deeply devoted to cohesiveness across all divides of the student body, the actual execution and implementation our platform proposals. We are also committed to the principle of transparency, particularly with respect to the MSSA and the allocations process. Our campus community has the potential to grow a great deal closer. The upcoming year will require a strong and dedicated Student Senate. I believe that our executive leadership, combined with the stellar members of our party, will make for a proud and consistent year.

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