The Candidates: Payne and Berkey hope to engage community, campus, culture

By Jacob Factor, Features Editor   (Courtesy photo/Savannah Payne)

“I chose to run with Savannah because she has single-handedly helped me become the leader I am today. She has encouraged me from the first semester of freshman year to get involved, use my strengths and help lead others.”

Savannah Payne is a junior health and human performance major. She has been a part of SGA the past three years, and this, she said, is her motivation for running for student body president.

Her platform has three main points that focus on engagement: engaging community, engaging culture and engaging campus.

For the first, engaging community, Payne and her vice president running mate, Junior Ashley Berkey, came up with two specific ideas.

Their Bikes on Campus initiative arose from Berkey’s internship with BlueZones. Berkey said BlueZones has been working toward making Shawnee a more active city by putting in bike lanes throughout the city. Working with BlueZones, Payne and Berkey said they want to start a grass-roots bike initiative in which they partner with the Shawnee Cycling Club and the Bicycle Shop to get bikes that any OBU student can use to get anywhere in Shawnee.

Berkey said eventually the bike initiative could grow into a much larger project.

“We could upgrade our biking system to eventually have something like you would see in cities – city bikes.”

Another facet of their community engagement plans is Meal Swipes for Change. Students can donate their extra cafeteria meal swipes at the end of the semester, and a certain dollar amount will go to an organization that helps the impoverished in Shawnee’s community.

The second part of Payne and Berkey’s platform is engaging culture, and Payne said she wants to partner with the Black Student Association and the First Nations Council to help them get more people involved in their clubs. Specifically for the First Nations Council, Payne said she would like to see tribal leaders from the Shawnee area come to campus and engage with students.

In the last part of Payne and Berkey’s platform, engaging campus, Payne said she wants to promote more attendance at sporting events. She said support for sports is lacking, and she wants to change that by getting more people involved.

Payne and Berkey are the only women running for student body president and vice president, but Payne said that isn’t what she wants people to focus on.

“We want our platform to speak for itself, and we want people to vote for us not just because they want a woman president,” she said.

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