Lauryn White is the new Administrative Vice President for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the school's student government. Following Kaleb Nichols’ resignation in late October, White served as the interim AVP and will now take on this role for the rest of the school year.
White is a senior from Chandler, Arizona, studying nutritional sciences, with minors in Spanish and health and human values. Before becoming AVP, White served as the administrative chief of staff. The Daily Wildcat spoke with White to discuss her role and her vision for this year.
DW: Tell us about your background before this role and your experience on campus.
White: I was actually introduced to ASUA as a general member of the Student Health Advocacy Committee, which is one of the programs that ASUA oversees. After I graduate, I plan on going to medical school which is why I got involved in the Student Health Advocacy Committee.
Through this program, I learned more about ASUA and the large impact that they have on campus which inspired me to apply for administrative chief. Now I’m super excited to take on this new, challenging role and serve the student body to the best of my ability.
DW: Why is student government important to you?
White: I think that this is something that’s so important to me because being in the position allows me to have a voice and really serve the entire University of Arizona community. I think it’s such a unique role that puts you in rooms that typically students don’t have access to, so it’s really important that I’m able to be in this role and serve that to the best of my ability.
DW: What was the process that led to you becoming the new AVP?
White: Once it was determined that Kaleb would be stepping down from the position, the executives announced that they were opening the application on Handshake. So, I went in and I applied and after I applied, I submitted my cover letter, my resume, everything like that expressing interest in the position.
Then they reached out to me to ask to do an interview, so I did an interview with Patrick Robles, the president, Nico Nieri-Lang, the executive vice president and Talia Myrick, who is the head of all of ASUA. That was the process, after the interview, they reached out and decided that I would be the best fit for the role.
DW: For those who aren’t familiar with ASUA, what does the Administrative Vice President do?
White: As the AVP, I’m tasked with being the student leader for eight ASUA programs and services. That includes Students for Sustainability, Student Health Advocacy Committee, Safe Ride, Bear Down Camp, Pride Alliance, Campus Pantry, Campus Closet and Feminists Organized to Resist, Create and Empower.
For some programs and services, that leadership includes hands-on oversight of their budget, but for others my main focus is to meet with them on a regular basis to help understand their needs, support them and advocate for their programs on a larger platform. On top of this, I also work very closely with the executive team and the student body senate to advocate for campus-wide issues.
This may also include me serving on any committees that I’ve been appointed to by President Robles. Most recently, I’ve been working closely with President Robles on issues like mandatory meal plan exemptions, student safety and ensuring that the SunLink remains free for this upcoming school year.
DW: Can students expect any upcoming changes regarding campus safety or ASUA’s support of activist groups?
White: Right now, President Robles is working hard to create the student safety taskforce, where we’re recruiting a bunch of students to apply for this role to help to directly advise the company that’s doing the 75-day audit currently with President Robbins.
I was also appointed to be on the student safety committee with faculty senate, so in that role, I’ll be working very closely with faculty senate to help them in making their decisions and things like that surrounding student safety.
In regards to FORCE and Pride, on October 20, we did release a statement saying that we’re going to continue to receive funding from the ASUA budget, both of those organizations. Also, all of the executive team will commit to providing an additional $2,000 of funding for the remainder of the academic school year, derived from the operational budgets of the student body president, administrative vice president and executive vice president and the director of campus culture and climate.
We’re also going to be working closely with FORCE and Pride to attend regular meetings alongside ASUA to discuss funding and the importance of finding this funding.
For me personally, I want to make this very, very clear: I do not hold the belief that any of our ASUA organizations that support marginalized communities should have to worry about a loss of funding. I’ve made this clear to all student leaders involved in those groups that this is not my belief.
Especially in a post-Roe world, my goal is to work with FORCE and Pride Alliance to ensure they feel the utmost support from ASUA and I want to work with them to ensure that they can continue to grow in a way that supports these communities to our fullest capacity.
DW: What is one thing you want students to know about you and your job?
White: I would just say that this is a space I’m really excited to be in, that any of them can reach out if they have any questions about what I do or any specific things that they want to advocate for. I definitely want to make sure that I’m listening to students in this aspect.
DW: What are your goals for this year?
White: My first goal as the new AVP was to ensure that all programs and services felt support during this transitional period and for me personally to adjust to the additional workload that comes with a role like this. But now that we’re slowly moving away from this period, my next goal is to advocate for issues that are the most important to my programs and services.
Something that is particularly important to me is ensuring that the feminist pharmacy, which is a program under FORCE that is one of the few sources of free menstrual hygiene products and safe sex supplies and one of the only providers of free Plan B on campus, is able to operate to the fullest extent, especially in this post-Roe world that we’re now living in. I’ve begun a lot of internal conversations with many people to figure out how to ensure that this service can grow to its full capacity.
Another goal of mine is ensuring that Campus Pantry and Closet staff feel supported as well. I think that it’s important as the AVP that I support students working in these spaces in any way that I can. And as I fully transition into this role, I’ve been working very closely with Bridgette [Riebe], who’s the coordinator of Campus Pantry and Closet, to understand the impossible demands that these students face.
On top of this, I plan on advocating for basic needs in any way possible. I’ll be starting this advocacy work at the Arizona Board of Regents meeting where I’ll be speaking about basic needs during the call-to-audience portion of this meeting.
I’ll also continue to work by engaging in the collaborative conversations that are planned for the Basic Needs Symposium, which is going to be on Dec. 2. At this symposium, I will be learning how I as a student leader can facilitate ways to strategize how our institution can support basic needs.
DW: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
White: I just also want to emphasize that, overall, all the programs and services I work with work so hard on such a diverse range of issues, so I definitely want to make sure that in this role I can listen and empathize with their concerns so that I can help in whatever way that I can to make them successful.
Outside of her role in student government, White works as an EMT and is the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion for The Women’s Network on campus. Her hobbies include reading, hiking and exploring Tucson’s local food scene. Her top restaurant recommendations are Boca Tacos y Tequila and Baja Cafe for breakfast, of course.
As AVP, White is open to addressing any student concerns and she can be reached at email@example.com.
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