Naftari, Gutz aim to put students first in campaign

By MAKENZIE HUBER Editor-in-Chief

Current Students’ Association Sen. Irakoze Naftari and his running mate Seth Gutz believe they’ll bring a fresh perspective to SA as president and vice president, respectively.

“With our new look at things we are able to see and hear and represent students better than other candidates,” Gutz said.

Their lack of experience on Senate, with Naftari being a senator for just a semester and Gutz not being part of SA, doesn’t present a problem for the two as they consider themselves fast learners.

“For everybody involved in this, it’s going to be a learning experience for everyone. With the Senate, we have a great team and with that team we’re going to depend on them as much as they depend on us to get our work done,” Naftari said. “We have a lot of experienced senators and people on the executive board who know what they’re doing, so depending on each other, that’s how we’re going to get things done.”

Their platform focuses on student engagement on and off-campus and increasing the student experience at athletic events.

Student engagement is important for the two because it allows students to experience different perspectives and cultures at SDSU. Along with student engagement, communication is important as well.

“When students do go to these events they go because they’re required … They just want to get it done and be over with. But then they don’t learn anything,” Naftari said.

That being said, the running mates don’t just want students to focus on the SDSU events. Engagement with the Brookings community is something Naftari would like to change as well.

“How can we get students to be engaged at SDSU? At the same time, how can they be engaged with the Brookings community?” Naftari said.

The two plan on bringing local foods to SDSU’s marketplace to increase that connection between SDSU and the Brookings community. Gutz, who has been in contact with the university to implement this program, said this will benefit the local economy.

The third focus on their platform is a plan to bring back tailgating at athletic events, while still keeping it safe for students.

“Students can still be safe and still have fun at the same time. That goes with student engagement. If we make it more enjoyable, then that helps with engagement,” Gutz said. “Basically all of our ideas tie back to increasing student engagement.”

This is the overall message of their platform, to put students first. Gutz believes these different parts of their platform speak to increasing SDSU and Brookings engagement.

“I want to see the numbers shoot up,” Gutz said about students being more involved.

The two believe they make a well-balanced ticket because of their majors and backgrounds. Naftari is a public relations and speech communications major while Gutz is an agricultural science major.

“Just the first obvious one — diversity. Irak’s international and I’m the other half, agricultural, and that’s SDSU right there for you. That’s us representing both halves and hearing both halves,” Gutz said.

Naftari has a connection with the international community because he originally moved to South Dakota in high school from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We want to see everything we put on our platform, we want to see that happen on campus,” Naftari said. “SDSU is a community, and is a great community. As a body, I want to see the body move together. I want to see the body function in one part.”