The Zone in Bryant-Denny was packed with students in support of presidential candidates Stephen Keller and Elliot Spillers on Monday night.
The presidential debate began with Spillers’ opening statement in which he touched on his health initiative plan for students. Keller focused on his SGA experience and his desire to tackle the difficult issues around campus head-on in his opening statement.
The candidates received four main questions from the moderator.
The first question was regarding the SGA budget and the idea that most students do not feel that the money is adequately distributed across campus. The candidates were asked if a student fee plan should be implemented for a new source of revenue.
Keller did not think the issue was a question of whether the SGA should implement the plan, but rather that the SGA should recognize that they did not have the ability to implement such a plan.
Spillers called for funds to be allocated to a broader range of student activity on campus.
The second question discussed apathy from students regarding SGA, and asked candidates what their plan was to engage the student body through SGA.
Spillers answered first, and called upon SGA to be more involved with students.
“People do not see a need for SGA right now, because they do not see legitimacy within it,” Spillers said. “SGA is not representative of the entire student body.”
Keller argued that changing student views could only be achieved through introducing concrete plans for action.
The third question asked the candidates to define their concrete plans to create substantive change across campus.
Keller spoke about the issue of sexual assault on campus, and he also outlined plans his administration has to implement safety measures around campus, such as better lighting at night.
“This administration, if elected, understands how to take ideas and turn them into initiatives, and we have shown that,” Keller said.
Spillers also spoke at length about sexual assault on campus as well as mental health. Spillers introduced a plan to create a peer-advocacy group across campus to train and educate leaders regarding these issues.
Finally, the candidates were asked if they had plans to increase student safety across campus.
Spillers advocated for an open dialogue between students, leaders and campus security as well as transportation services. He discussed the need for students to be open with administrators about their concerns.
Keller proposed plans to improve lighting on campus and work through auxiliary services with UAPD. He discussed a program that is in progress called UA Acts, in which members of the SGA go out and talk with students on campus.
The candidates were also asked to prepare one question for each other, and live tweets were used as questions as well.
Andrew Cicero, a junior majoring in marketing, is Keller’s campaign manager. Cicero has also worked with Keller in the SGA.
“Both men are leaders on campus, but when it comes to actually changing an organization, you have to be familiar with the structure,” he said. “Change happens more easily from the inside out rather than the outside in.”
Mark Hammontree, a junior majoring in secondary education and language arts, currently serves as Spillers’ campaign manager.
“I honestly think Elliot is the best candidate for SGA president, because he is that quintessential unifier on campus,” he said. “He represents a passion for bringing people together that transcends labels and boundaries that we have created on campus.”
Voting for all SGA candidates opens Tuesday at 7 a.m. at mybama.ua.edu where students may cast their votes until 7 p.m.