SGA presidential candidates debate campus topics
Candidates for the next student body president for Central Michigan University debated March 27 on platforms including the formation of a Gender and Sexuality Center.
Three SGA presidential candidates and their running mates each made their case Monday to lead the student body during the 2017-18 academic year.
Debating in the Bovee University Center Auditorium, Vice President Anna Owens, House Leader Cody Van Buren and Treasurer Luke Anderson each emphasized why students should vote for them as president. Sophomore Derek Sturvist is running with Owens, Senate Leader Emilee Madison with Van Buren and sophomore Galen Miller with Anderson.
Voting takes place midnight Tuesday, March 28 through April 4 on vote.cmich.edu. The winner will succeed current SGA President Jazmin Biernat.
Anderson said an SGA tax clinic should be established where taxes are returned to students for free to students. He also stressed a bike-sharing program, where bikes confiscated at the CMU police station could be serviced to residence halls.
Miller said he and Anderson, who both hail from Michigan's thumb, campaigned at the International Student Organization last week and were told they were the first SGA representatives to visit them in the past four years.
"That was disheartening," Miller said. "They were upset about that because they felt their voices were not heard. We want to represent all students, not just SGA."
Miller said he and Anderson want SGA representatives to go to organization meetings once a semester to hear their concerns.
The Gender and Sexuality Center would be an extremely important addition to CMU, Anderson said. The center has been discussed at length in SGA and with campus organizations would absorb the Office of LGBTQ Services and include gender programming.
Madison is the leader of the Gender and Sexuality Center ad-hoc committee, which she created after realizing Biernat was one of the few people pushing for the center. She said the GSC would be the only part of their platform that would provide a large cost for CMU, which is facing a $20 million budget deficit.
"We truly believe in times of deficit, you need to prioritize," Madison said. "The Gender and Sexuality Center is something we should have had here a long time ago. We've been working on this in SGA for the past four years now. Nothing's happened."
Van Buren, a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), and Madison have a platform based on community, inclusion and leadership.
He said he wants to create an interest page after freshman orientation that will pair the interests of new students with registered student organizations on campus. Madison said it would help ease the problems that happen with MainStage, which was cancelled in fall 2016 due to weather.
Owens said her goals are to collaborate with RSOs on campus, improve sustainability and send press releases to hold SGA accountable for their actions.
"We need to make the most out of our time here at CMU," Owens said. "Some of us are here for four years, maybe even five, and we pay a lot to go here. We need to make sure every single day that we are here that we are doing something for you and that we are working for your needs."
Anderson, who runs track and field and cross country, said although CMU is dealing with a budget deficit, it allows SGA to make better decisions with their money. He said previous SGA administrations have not looked deep into numbers.
Miller said working with Greek Life and establishing a parking garage in the future are pivotal pieces to their campaign.
Madison and VanBuren did not promise better parking services, but are working with senators to get faculty and graduate student parking spots to free up parking for undergraduate students.
Van Buren also wants to create "fire points" at athletic events, where each time a student slides their card for attendance, they would receive points which would lead to prizes.
Madison and Van Buren also want to establish a victory bell, where the bell at Warriner Hall would ring following a major CMU win. Madison said they adopted it after head football coach John Bonamego, who rang the bell after completing chemotherapy treatments following his cancer diagnosis in 2015.
Owens said sustainability should equate to cutting down waste on campus. Anderson said he wants to establish a SGA task force to help clean trash on campus.
Anderson said he wants CMU students to receive professional certifications to compete with higher-up institutions such as Harvard and Yale. He said he has met with the College of Business Administration and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences to discuss how to institute professional certifications on campus.
Madison and Van Buren agreed with Anderson and Miller about adding more certificates, with Van Buren saying CMU needs to advertise more on it.
Anderson said lights turned on at night on campus are not needed, but Owens said they are so students feel safe walking after night classes. Sturvist said the bike-sharing proposal also includes insurance problems that make its implementation more difficult.
Sturvist also said students on campus may not know how SGA operates.
"We need to make all students know SGA is the organization they can use and they have channels and resources at their disposal to create on campus," Sturvist said. "That is our most important thing."
Treasurer candidate and Macomb junior Mike DeGregory also presented his case as the sole candidate. He said he wants to show students where their dollars are going.
After the debate concluded, House and Senate each passed two resolutions. One is to support the revision of the room reservation system for RSOs and the other would establish online Kognito training, which would educate faculty and staff on how to aid veterans in classes.
No SGA meeting will take place next week. Biernat will give the State of the Student Body Address at 7 p.m. Monday, April 3 in Powers Hall Ballroom.