Franklin, Johnson work toward campaign goals

Student Body President Tanner Franklin (right) and Vice President Brett Johnson (left). Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

One month into the school year,  UND Student Body President Tanner Franklin and Vice President Brett Johnson are doing their best to fulfill their campaign promises.

Their platform had three main issues they wanted to focus on — tuition, outreach and protection of students. Both stayed busy during the summer gearing up for this school year.

Franklin, who worked closely with the executive team, has begun exploring options on how to make tuition more affordable for students. One idea is a freeze on tuition, something that would have to come from the legistlature.

Another idea has been brought forward by North Dakota agriculture commissioner candidate Ryan Taylor who has proposed a 1 percent fixed interest loan rate for students through the Bank of North Dakota.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea and would do wonders for UND,” Franklin said. “North Dakota would be at the forefront of one of the first states offering that. It wouldn’t be coming directly from us, but we would be there to support it.”

Another area that would help students with tuition costs would be expansion of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Occupations Student Loan Program. Once students graduate and are employed for one year in a STEM field, they are eligible to have $1,500 of loan debt, up to $6,000 forgiven.

“I think we could expand that program, and it could be used as a retention tool for North Dakota,” Franklin said. “We could increase that offering to more professional students.”

Trying to keep students in North Dakota to fill an estimated 27,000 open jobs also is part of Franklin and Johnson’s outreach efforts. They want to create more of a student culture in Grand Forks and North Dakota as a whole. Franklin is working with the city to potentially bring in new business in downtown and “hospitality row”, the area along 42nd Street.

Johnson is working with student senators to make sure the goals of senate align with the goals of the executive team.

“I’ve been sitting with senators one-on-one so they know how to outreach to their constituents,” Johnson said. “Pending the upcoming senate meeting, we should have a full senate, which hasn’t happened in a long time. Every student should have at least two senators that represent them, if not more.”

Other initiatives

The new Student Government also will be a place for students to reach out to Student Government and have their voices heard. The website will have a forum, where students will be able to post anonymously if they choose.

“Students, administration and faculty will be able to see it,” Franklin said. “It’s a way to get the student voice out in the open and see what areas need work. Hopefully it will facilitate discussion between students as well.”

Parking on campus, which has recently become a large concern for students, has been taken up by Johnson. He is working with University Police Department  Chief Eric Plummer and the parking office to set up a student parking appeals board. The Student Government judicial team would make up this board, which would hear appeals from students about parking violations. Johnson is still working on the project, but hopes to have it implemented for the spring semester.

Franklin also is working with UPD and Plummer to get surveillance cameras and door card access systems installed around campus to give students more security. He is also part of a committee that will be reviewing the Code of Student Life to see if there changes that need to be made.

Franklin said he is also working on academic advisement issues that he has heard of from constituents. The business, arts and sciences, engineering and honors schools all have concerns about advisement.

“Due to academic advisement, students aren’t graduating on time,” Franklin said. “Where can changes be in made?”

Franklin says he believes he and Johnson have, “overall somewhat accomplished” what they campaigned upon at this point.

Megan Hoffman is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].