SGA debate: Candidates defend platforms

Destiny Hosmer and Priyanka Sharma

Staff Writers

Candidates seeking executive positions in the Student Government Association had the opportunity to defend their positions at a debate hosted by TrojanVision on Monday night.

Olivia Melton and Patrick Rodgers, the candidates running for SGA president, were first asked what they think is the most important responsibility of the president, and how they would be able to fulfill that responsibility.

Melton said that the president should be the primary form of contact for the student body and work to address common student complaints, such as the influx of high school students on campus during finals week.

“The president should be the voice of the students, to answer all questions, comments and concerns that they have,” Melton said.

Rodgers said that the main duty of the president is to act as a strong liaison between the students and the chancellor and Board of Trustees.

“Every senator has the opportunity to have a voice, but I believe that the president is more than just a voice,” Rodgers said. “We are allowed to sit in on those meetings and express those concerns that the students have.”

The candidates were also asked what they think needs to be the next major improvement at Troy.

Rodgers responded with what he referred to as the “parking situation,” saying that every large university has limited parking in comparison to student enrollment.

He said that his solution would be an increased push for the use of Troy transit among students.

Melton said that the next major improvement should be a revamp of how Troy looks at retention rates. Melton said that she could make sure that SGA does the research necessary to get the funding and improve the university and those rates.

The four candidates for Vice President of Campus Activities were first asked what ideas they have concerning welcome week and homecoming, events that the VPCA organizes.

Caitlin Smith said that she would like to see the amphitheater utilized for events during welcome week. She also said that an event where new students can learn more about their majors and meet the faculty would be a good idea as well.

Sam Moody said he wants students to be recognized as individuals during welcome week, rather than just as part of a freshman class. For homecoming, Moody said that activities need to be implemented that include everyone, not just the larger organizations.

Troy Hidle and Avalon Dudinsky also agreed with the idea of broadening homecoming participation outside of Greek organizations.

For welcome week, Hidle said that he would suggest pairing new students with a Troy ambassador to help them find classes and get familiar with Troy.

Dudinsky said that making welcome week as comfortable as possible for the new students and involving upperclassmen would be beneficial to the family aspect of Troy.

The candidates were also asked whether or not they had participated in activities offered by Troy’s international students and if they see those as important events in campus life.

Dudinsky said that she had been to several events and she believes that those events are crucial.

“I just think building those relationships and having American students come and participate in those events is a great thing,” she said.

Moody said that he attended an international student dinner last semester and that international students should feel at home on campus.

“It’s not easy for them to go home like it us for a lot of us, so I think that while we say ‘Troy is home,’ it literally is their home,” he said.

Hidle said that he attended the international Thanksgiving dinner sponsored by Freshman Forum and said that international students and American students should work together to create a stronger bond.

“If they (international students) broke out of their shell and were more open to everything else on campus, I think that would be a great way to mend that bond,” Hidle said.

Caitlin Smith said that she attended the recent Chinese New Year festival and that more international events would be beneficial to everyone.

“Maybe at welcome week, there could be an opportunity where they (international students) can just talk to people about their cultures,” Smith said.

Andrew Dearing and Margaret White, candidate­s for Vice President of Legislative Affairs, were asked if they would encourage a debate about prayers before each SGA meeting.

Both agreed on having a debate, stating that each senator should have the opportunity to voice their opinion.

“As we have students from diverse group from all over the world, it is really important as SGA that we reflect that,” White said.

When asked about any specific activity that they would encourage student welfare to develop, the candidates mentioned the lighting on campus and parking issue.

Dearing also said that the new bus system should be highlighted, as it would help the students reach class on time and minimize parking problems.

The candidates for Director of Administration—Blakeley Davenport, Farrah Gaston and E’vonte Wright—were asked what they thought was the most important responsibility of their prospective positions and how they plan to carry out those responsibilities.

Davenport said that she wanted to be a face everyone knew on campus for students to reach out and help solve their problems. Gaston said she wanted to let the students know “what’s going on” with SGA by sending out weekly minutes and making monthly calendars of events, and Wright said he wanted to focus on networking and building communication between the Troy student body and SGA.

Darunda Wilkins and Nancy Kingston Hall, the candidates for SGA Director of Representation, were asked what that position meant to them.

They both said they wanted to encourage people to get involved from all over the campus, mainly for homecoming and senator elections, to promote necessary changes.

Hall also said that her goal is to have multiple voting sites on campus and encourage more people to come out and vote.

When asked if they were willing to consider having a larger number of representatives on the homecoming court to improve representation, Wilkins said, “I would not say I want more women on the court but I want more candidates to have opportunities to run.”

Hall said that there should be more representatives on the homecoming court. She said that everyone deserved a chance no matter who they were.


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