Marco SalinasMercury Staff
In UTD’s most contested Student Government presidential election, members of the Ignite ticket are pushing for transparency and lasting change in SG.
Neuroscience senior Danni Yang, the presidential candidate for Ignite, has served as both a senator for Student Government and head of the Residential Student Affairs committee. Kyle Tupper, a finance junior, is the vice presidential candidate and was unavailable for an interview at the time of publication.
Yang said the word “Ignite” relates to the ticket’s vision for lasting change.
“Ignite ties into this idea of creating foundational change — because we don’t want to just have this one spark. When you ignite something, you’re letting this whole thing catch on fire and create a lasting change just like this domino effect,” Yang said, “We’re thinking of igniting something that will last for a really long time.”
Yang, who has been in Student Government since the first month of her freshman year, said the opportunities afforded to her by Student Government inspired her to run for president.
“I have this huge passion for UTD and SG because I’ve had amazing opportunities that I didn’t even think would have been possible coming into college, and I really want to be able to just give back to these organizations that have meant so much to me and really make lasting impactful change on campus,” Yang said.
To create accountability and transparency for SG and its senators, Yang proposes what she calls “100 percent involvement.”
“One specific action item we want to take is this idea of 100 percent involvement where we’re going to ask senators, when they come in to Student Government, … to (go to) other organization meetings or philanthropy events or anything that students host on campus and really talk to them and ask them, ‘What can Student Government do for you?’” Yang said.
Another way Yang said she plans to increase accountability is to add projects and the senators who proposed them to the Student Government website.
Yang said she would also like to see more engagement with SG on social media by creating short, weekly highlights of what SG is doing. Another way Yang said she would like to increase communication with students is by integrating SG with the UTD mobile app.
“We want to make the app something that all students do get whether they’re coming in as a freshman or transfer student, and it really helps them adjust to life on campus,” Yang said. “And integrating student government in this app will also create another open channel for communication where they could possibly message us directly.”
Yang said SG will push to increase downloads of the UTD mobile app by advertising it to students during orientations.
Another project Yang said Ignite wants to sustain is mental health awareness.
“We want to … give students access to a mental health check-up whether they take an assessment or just increase (access) to mental health resources,” she said.
UTD currently offers mental health evaluations through the Student Counseling Center and offers services including individual and group counseling.
Yang said to create lasting change, she wants to amend the policy for how proposals are handled in Student Government.
“Currently when we do proposals for projects, students talk about the impact they want to see through this project and why it’s beneficial to students, but it’s in a very localized time schedule,” she said. “I would love to add another component to this, in which senators are required to have this impact statement: ‘What kind of impact would this project have, and what kind of timeline do you want this project to extend towards?’” =
Yang said she enjoys the challenge of running in the most contested Student Government election.
“I kind of joke to myself — I’m like, ‘You know, Danni, you love challenges so you picked the one year when so many people are running,’” she said.