SGA holds presidential, vice presidential debates March 18

SGA members participate in President/Vice President debate as they both compete for office in Bovee Universrity Center on Monday, March 18.

As the semester inches to a close, it’s that time of the year again: Student Government Association elections. 

SGA held a debate for the prospective president and vice president to introduce themselves, take questions and share their experiences and goals for the next academic year at the March 18 meeting.

The two president-vice president tickets include:

  • Incumbents Jake Hendricks and Lyndi Rose
  • Freshman Gabe Butzke and sophomore Lauryn Gibas

While Hendricks and Rose currently serve as SGA president and vice president, Butzke is a first-year SGA member, serving as a senator representing the College of Medicine. Gibas is a first-semester house representative for Alpha Gamma Delta.

During the debate, candidates were asked for specific projects and goals they hope to achieve for the 2019-20 year. 

Butzke looked towards more community-building events, and Gibas highlighted safety on campus, including the installation of more blue lights. Hendricks wishes to expand the campus programming fund to give organizations more funding, and Rose would like to continue her tampon initiative, as well strengthening Title IX.

Both tickets referenced a couple of different Senate projects (such as the blue lights and culture potluck) they would like to expand upon in their administrations. 

In terms of their own platforms, the Butzke-Gibas ticket relied more on bringing a fresh perspective as newer members.

“When I first came to SGA, (SGA's disconnect from the student body) is something I noticed immediately," Butzke said. "I feel like that's something people who have been here longer may not have noticed because they've kind of gotten used to it - that's what I mean by (having a) 'fresh set of eyes.'"

Meanwhile, the Hendricks-Rose ticket offered more experience from their past years serving on SGA, as well as their initiatives from the current administration.

"I think it's a combination between (fresh eyes) and having experience and knowing how to follow through on processes like legislation," Hendricks said. "Experience is good, and I'd say that the defining characteristic is really the ideas. I'd say the most important thing is to have not only experience but passion and ideas going forward."

Since SGA’s primary purpose is to represent all students, outreach to the student body was a key point of discussion in the debate. 

For Butzke and Gibas, their plan to reach out to more students as president and vice president would come from tabling every Friday to gather student feedback.

“I think the most important element of that relationship (between SGA and the student body) is communication," Butzke said. "What I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of students on campus who don’t even know SGA exists."

Hendricks and Rose acknowledged outreach as one of their priorities in serving as a liaison. Rose referenced her efforts in directly contacting student organizations and building partnerships.

"I think one of our biggest resources as a community is student government," Hendricks said. "And really having a bunch of people in this room who are student leaders from collective different colleges, where we all get to interact and talk about what's important, (can be seen) in some of the legislation this semester."  

Campus climate was heavily reflected in Morgan’s and the audience members’ questions, especially regarding diversity and the past whiteboard incidents.

“When it comes to what we do, we lead with sympathy, not empathy," Rose said. "We lead to be an ally and then also make sure the administration is actually hearing what their students are saying."

Both tickets agreed in building communities and hosting events that open conversations.

"We, as students, need to realize that we're all here for education and we're all here for a common thing, and we need to build on our similarities," Gibas said.

The full debate is available on SGA’s Facebook page, and voting will take place on OrgSync March 24-29.

More on the Hendricks-Rose and Butzke-Gibas platforms will be published later this week.

Update on legislation

Commencement ticket legislation from last week passed in both the House and Senate, but the resolution for more benefits to residential desk managers did not go through in the Senate.