by Emily Mosier
Slogan-plastered hats. Social media campaigns. A billboard. A 24-hour stakeout on the quad – this year’s SGA election is fierce, and the candidates are all determined to prove their commitment before the ballots go out March 1.
The candidates for SGA President, Theo Thoenes and Marcelles Martin, have different ideas of how to run a campaign, including how much money to spend.
In addition to speaking with students and visiting campus organizations, Thoenes, a sophomore risk management insurance major from Decatur, Alabama, utilized campaign signs and social media.
And, he rented a billboard. Thoenes’ face smiles at drivers as they travel on Highway 231.
Marcelles Martin is a junior foreign policy major from Atlanta, Georgia. He said he spent around $150 on his campaign.
“I didn’t want to just be a face on a poster or billboard,” Martin said. “I want to be face to face with voters so they can hear my message.”
Thoenes declined to state how much money he had spent on his campaign. SGA candidates are not required to disclose their financial information nor is there a limit to how much they can spend. Thoenes said it would be “naive” to believe money was not a component in “every action and decision on campus.”
“I am a business student and have applied every aspect of my education toward operating an effective campaign including . . . budgeting,” Thoenes said. “My two years of experience managing budgets for SGA and my campaign will serve the student body well.”
Martin said he did not believe money was an important aspect of campaigning.
“Our responsibility is to convince people of our goals and vision, not to use money to buy our way to the office,” Martin said. “I believe I’m the best person for this role because of the wealth of experience I have and my passion for SGA alongside serving others . . . for the last three years, I’ve learned how to lead and now it’s time for me to actually do it.”
The race for Executive Vice President has been gaining just as much attention on campus. The candidates, Max Cooper and Dawson Carter, have also taken different approaches.
All week, posters touting the words “Where’s Max?” have hung on the walls and been shared on social media, all leading up to the reveal of Cooper’s slogan: “Max is Here.”
The junior from Trussville, Alabama, then spent 24 hours on the main quad, not even leaving to use the bathroom. He said he wanted to make himself available to voters and prove his slogan was true.
The other candidate for Executive Vice President is Dawson Carter, a sophomore nursing major from Saraland, Alabama. His slogan is “Count on Carter,” and his campaign consisted of reserving tables around campus in order to talk with students. He used yard signs, banners, and apparel – including custom hats, bracelets, and sweatshirts.
“I will make sure to bring transparency to the student body,” Dawson said.
However, he declined to share how much money he had spent on his campaign.
“Money is not necessary in winning,” Dawson said. “What I believe is necessary in a campaign is preparation, organization, time management, and transparency.”
Cooper said he spent around $50 on posters.
“I think if you put in the work and you have the creativity, that’s going to stand out more than spending a lot of money,” Cooper said. “That’s what I’m trying to prove.”
All four candidates agreed, however, that their platform is the most important aspect of an election.
Martin said he hopes to create what he called “The Network of Leaders.”
“Because we have so many different organizations, there’s a wealth of knowledge that could be shared,” Martin said. “SGA should help try to connect these leaders so we can all learn from each other.”
Martin also said he wants to better use SGA resources to help students develop into career-ready adults, and he wants to be a voice for every student, regardless of race, religion, gender, or any other label.
“I want to win because there’s a lot of work to do and I’m ready to get it done,” Martin said.
“The biggest changes I would like to enact focus on enhancing the student experience,” Thoenes said.
He plans on achieving this by lobbying for swings and picnic tables to be placed on campus.
And, to reduce the risk of drunk driving and service students without vehicles, Thoenes plans to work with City leaders to develop a ride-sharing service.
“I want my voters to know the most powerful catalyst of change is to treat others as humans, not as objects, allies, enemies, or a means to an end,” Thoenes said.
Dawson is running on accessibility, progress, and transparency.
“I want students to know that I do value their opinion and their voice,” Dawson said. “I want to win because the people need someone who is going to speak on their behalf and not do it for personal gain.
“I have done everything in my might for this campaign, just like I will do everything in my might for this student body . . . I will do everything I have promised in my statements,” Dawson added.
Cooper’s three points are “Change, Progress, and Opportunity.” He hopes to help bring students the ability to use flex points off-campus, and he plans to work with administrators on finding a solution to parking complaints.
“I want open communication,” Cooper said. “The whole campaign I’ve been letting students tell me what they want.”
Students will be able to vote via their student email this Wednesday.