Student Government

Student Government Association presidential debate brings attention to candidates’ similarities, differences

Macomb junior Justin Gawronski listens as Hesperia junior Killian Richeson presents his ideas for getting students more involved on campus during the Student Government Association presidential debate Tuesday evening in Anspach 162. (Charlotte Bodak/Staff Photographer)

Student Government Association presidential candidates squared off in a debate Tuesday night in Anspach Hall 161.

Although there are five presidential candidates running, only four participated in the debate.

Moderated by Assistant Professor of Finance and Law Kenneth Sanney, the debate featured Macomb junior Justin Gawronski, Sparta junior Spencer McKellar, Hesperia senior Killian Richeson and Romeo senior Kevin Richmond. After the debate, Warren senior Connor Gallagher said he was unable to attend because of a family emergency.

All presidential candidates said giving SGA increased relevance to the university is one of their most pressing platforms.

Richmond, who is the only candidate without extensive SGA experience, said his involvement in other organizations on campus gave him a significant advantage in communicating to students about student government.

“The fact that I’m not in the SGA benefits my platform, because I can reach people who are not involved in the SGA, who do not know about SGA,” Richmond said. “Because of my involvement and connections to those groups, I can reach RSOs that SGA doesn’t usually reach.”

McKellar rebutted Richmond, and said his involvements in outside organizations does not make him unique from the other candidates.

“All of us are involved in organizations outside the SGA, and in campaigning we have all met RSOs outside the SGA,” McKellar said. “It’s not like we all just stay stuck in the SGA and only hear viewpoints from the SGA; we are bringing it from the outside.”

McKellar also said Richmond’s inexperience in the SGA is not an advantage but, rather, a disadvantage.

“All of us have similar platforms; all of us have similar goals,” McKellar said. “But we need someone who knows how to step in and change things right away, and not have to learn the system first.”

Gawronski said his administration would work to heavily increase student interest in the SGA.

“We want to make it impossible for you to be apathetic. If you want to be apathetic, you would have to work hard for it,” Gawronski said. “We see it as a SGA-wide initiative to increase student interest in the SGA.”

Both Gawronski and Richeson signaled interest in starting an SGA newsletter and having senators personally meet the students as methods to gain student relevance, but Richeson said even more is needed.

“You can’t just go out and meet people — they have to come to meetings, they have to get involved,” Richeson said. “With the experience that I have, I will be able to achieve this.”

Candidates also shared sustainability as a high priority in their platforms.

“I feel it is a cultural problem,” Garwronski said. “We need a sustainable culture on CMU — we need everyone to feel the same way about the environment as Take Back The Tap and the SEA (Student Enviromental Alliance).”

All of the candidates gave off-campus recycling, a project SGA has been working on extensively for the past two years, as one of their higher environmental priorities. Richeson said he, out of all the candidates, had the most ability to bring the plan into action.

“The biggest problem in the SGA is the disconnect from year to year. We change committee chairs and all the work from the previous year is lost,” Richeson said. “I’ll be able to continue our work on projects like off-campus recycling from previous years, and not allow that work to be wasted.”

Richeson said, if elected, increased funding for student programming would be one of his focuses. He said university funding for student-initiated programs has remained the same since 2001.

“The economy has changed. It’s 2012 — the dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to,” Richeson said. “By increasing funding to things like SBAC funding, the university will be able to bring more events to CMU, better events to CMU and increase student excitement in the university.”

In addressing student excitement, Richmond said one of his main focuses would be the football tailgate scene, which has been heavily regulated by the university.

“I was here before tailgating was changed; I remember what it was like earlier,” Richmond said. “Obviously I won’t be able to change rules which prohibit underage drinking, but by reaching a new middle ground with the authorities on things like no amplified music or no cooking, I will be able to bring new excitement to the scene.”

Gawronski closed the debate by saying he was the best candidate to vote for because of his dedication to the race.

“You’ve got to look specifically at how we run our campaign,” Gawronski said. “We are taking this the most seriously. We had all our signatures ahead of time. Some candidates were collecting signatures the day they were due. We have met with all the RSOs, (and) we are the only administration to meet with the deans. We’re going to make sure that what you guys want is going to get done, because we have those relationships.”

The SGA will hold their vice presidential debate at 6 p.m. March 13 in the Charles V. Park Library Auditorium.

The general elections will be held from March 12-16; students can vote online.


  1. I find it funny that 3 of the candidates who have served on SGA haven’t done anything but run it down the toilet.  Nobody knows that you exist except for YOU.  Time to get some fresh thinking in there.

    • Vincent Cavataio says:

      How have they “run it down the toilet?”

      Here is a small list of things we have done this year.

      Student Government
      Association Accomplishments 2011-2012

      President Vincent


      Extension of Library Hours to CMU students.  Received funding from Provost Shapiro to finance project.

      Worked/Working to make the UC a more student-oriented atmosphere with
      ample study/discussion space. 
      Currently working on extension of hours.

      Successful campaign for Medical Amnesty bill.  Sent postcards from students on campus to legislators around
      the state.  It is now being voted
      on in the Michigan Senate.

      Removal of attendance requirements for SBAC funding.

      Serving on the Strategic Planning Team to ensure student voices are
      heard.  SGA also conducted a survey
      to gauge what students would like to see from the SPT.

      Established housing for the Legal Clinic in the CMU Ethics Center.  Increased use and support of the Legal
      Clinic on campus.

      Follow-up support of Gender Neutral Housing the Cavataio/McNeely passed
      in 2011.

      Worked with Vice Provost Claudia Douglas to ensure the use of online
      auditing.  It is now in process and
      will be completed.

      Worked with Vice Provost Claudia Douglas to initiate online major/minor
      signing to eliminate the use of advisers for paperwork and be able to focus
      their time on the students.

      Increased the average attendance in the House of Representatives from
      an average of around 80 in 2010 to over 130 this year, with the removal of SBAC
      attendance requirements.

      Voted to establish an additional Greek Like adviser in the Office of
      Student Life.

      Cavataio has also been attending all IFC and Pan-Hell meetings with
      plans to integrate leadership from Greek Life in SGA and other areas of
      campus.  The segregation between
      Greeks and non-Greeks has been recognized.

      Vice President McNeely has started planning an SGA Alumni event to
      bring successful leaders back to campus.

      Voted to support the Mount Pleasant Anti-Discrimination Act.  Cavataio signed the original letter of
      support in the Fall 2011 semester.

      Successful community dinner event, conducted by Anna Dvorak, which
      brought over 70 students together to discuss issues and priorities on campus.

      Successful RSO Spotlight event, bringing RSOs together in one room to
      share ideas and promote their organizations.

      Increased recycling receptacles across campus.

      Collected hundreds of clothing items in the Garments for Guinea
      campaign, which was actually donated to local areas.

      Re-evaluated the elections model for SGA and refined the process and
      advertising for the SGA general election.


      Various other activities
      have occurred within committees, for greater detail you can contact committee

  2. Anonymous Coward says:

    Find me 10 people not in SGA who know about any of that then we can talk lol

    • Vincent Cavataio says:

      They may not know SGA did it, but when they are using those services I would say that is relevance.

  3. I live in Calkins hall on the second floor and Kevin is my RA, he is quite possible the worst RA in the history of RA’s. My roommate is Black and Richmond purposely leaves him out of everything! His name isn’t even on our door because Kevin “forgot” to put it on his door! I always walk by Richmond’s room in Calkins and him and Scott are using materials provided by Calkins for RA’s only as supplies for his campaign! He used these materials for his flyer and he is using materials for his videos. He was able to book the library for his town hall meeting by reserving it under his RSO and made his RSO pay for it! Kevin Richmond has knocked at my room door telling me to vote on March 12-16. Scott Cooke has knocked at my door and posted a flyer on my door and when I took it off Kevin said that the flyer was property of Calkins Hall and I was in violation. The worst part is membership chair Karen is helping him steal these materials and buying votes by paying people money to vote for Richmond/Cooke! They put a flyer in my mail box in Calkins and with it was a dollar, how low is that! When talking to him about CMU he has no respect for this campus! He won’t go to sporting events or even University events because that is a waste of tuition dollars. He never says fire up chips and when the shooting happen at NIU he said it should’ve happen at CMU.  Richmond and Cooke are lairs, they steal, have no school pride and shouldn’t be elected!

    • can’t tell if trolling or just stupid

      • Its 100% true! Its been over 15 hours and Kevin, Scott and Karen have yet to comment to say its false. If Kevin wants people to be active in SGA and on this campus then you need to read CM-Life which obviously he doesn’t do himself. Richmond has spent over 600 dollars on this election! He spent over 50 dollars on the DVD’s, 100 on renting the cameras he uses, 500 dollars on the library, 150 on the facebook adds from now until March 17 and paying people to vote for him. Don’t vote for him!!!

        • I don’t see how reading the comment section of cm-life is applicable to SGA.    

          So far your claims against him are that he’s:
          -stealing supplies to make posters
          -paying for votes
          -hates CMU
          -wishes a school shooting would happen on our campus

          Stop trolling and slandering him on these message boards.  I’m not going to vote for him but what you’re doing is ridiculous and petty.

    • Derek Long says:

      How are sporting events not a waste of tuition dollars? And shame on Kevin for not walking around screaming “fire up chips”! Although to be fair, I have never heard anyone say those words.

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