The Student Government Association vice presidential debate was held last night in the Ferguson Center ballroom, sponsored by the Student Leadership Council and UA Chapter of the NAACP and moderated by Joyce Stallworth, associate dean of the College of Education.
Vice presidential candidates were each given 30-second opening statements and one minute to field questions from opponents and the audience. The participants in the debate came to rely heavily on two primary steps – student involvement and transparency.
Adam Rawlins, a write-in candidate for vice president for Academic Affairs, brought students’ role in SGA and campus decisions onto the floor early on, in response to a question from opponent A.J. Collins concerning what academic programs Rawlins had initiated during his time on campus.
“Well, admittedly, I have created [no programs], not being in a position of power to do so,” Rawlins said. “SGA has been, in the past, and continues to be, pretty much yelling at a wall. Besides [running for office], there’s not much an individual can do, and that’s why I’m standing here today.”
Kyle Zimmerman, a candidate for vice president for External Affairs, continued to advocate students’ campus involvement in his response to an audience question regarding football block seating.
“I think block seating is good for the University,” he said. “Students sitting at the top [of the stadium] will say, ‘How about I go out into the community and do service? How about I go out and express my opinions and try to get my thoughts out there?’ I go out and do those things to get those better seats, to make this a better campus.”
Alex Clark, a candidate for executive vice president, stressed the importance of the SGA’s need to use the election to begin regaining the trust of the diverse student body, as well as increase their interest in the organization through direct interaction.
“In regards to SGA experience, SGA has had a lot of issues in the past, to where SGA experience may not be the right experience,” she said.
She emphasized the appeal to students of a candidate who has displayed leadership qualities in other aspects of campus life, as well as the need for a representative who can understand the needs of a diverse student body.
Andy Koonce, a candidate for vice president of Financial Affairs, said students won’t be inspired to trust or get involved until they feel they know what is going on within the SGA. In response to an audience question concerning transparency in Financial Affairs, he said students need better access to relevant information.
“The online budget we make available is transparent, but it’s not transparent enough in a timely manner,” he said. “Students need to know exactly where the money is going and that it’s not being wasted.”
Stallworth closed the proceedings by challenging the audience to take an active role in the election process, which culminates Tuesday, March 6, with online voting.
“I encourage you to make informed, educated and individual decisions about your candidates to fill the various positions represented tonight,” she said.