The office of vice president of Student Affairs is the most wide-ranging and all-encompassing office in the SGA barring only the presidency. Its dominion covers every issue that affects students no matter the scope. It requires an officeholder who is intelligent, organized and empathetic. Above all, it demands an occupant who is able to listen, understand and respond to all students. The CW Editorial Board believes Shelby Norman is that person, and we endorse her for this position.
What struck us most about Norman was her obvious possession of character, integrity and even humility (a trait that by definition is frequently lacking in candidates for office). Her slogan “I am you” is clearly meant to convey that she is an average, approachable student first and an officeholder second, and we believe her. Not only does she bring a much-needed diverse perspective to the SGA office, but we believe she will inspire many other students who don’t see SGA as being welcoming to them to join in student government.
In addition, we believe Norman’s leadership in a variety of campus organizations, most notably her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha, has equipped her with the organizational skills and the wide network needed to be an effective vice president of Student Affairs. We encourage students to question anyone who claims she is inexperienced or unqualified to hold this office. Her ideas for office are to expand sexual assault prevention and policy, establish a medical amnesty policy for students reporting or experiencing illicit drug overdoses and to implement programming for students with physical, intellectual and social disabilities. The last of these three proposals was a topic that went completely unmentioned by any other candidate for office. We believe her advocacy for this group of students is a huge leap forward for SGA and its mission of “Students Serving Students.”
Her opponent Dalton Beasley’s interview, on the other hand, contained a dizzying array of the most baffling statements made by any SGA candidate in recent memory. In response to a question on his thoughts about We Are DONE, he declared that on a spectrum from Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, Jr. he was much more of the latter, which was odd in and of itself but was irrelevant considering that We Are DONE has remained a peaceful movement. He denied saying he was planning on working with the UA Feminist Caucus when it was explicitly mentioned in the he submitted only three days prior to his interview. When asked if SGA has a diversity problem, he claimed a close friendship with a black member of SGA who did not share his sentiments about their friendship. He referred to victims of sexual assault as people who had had “mistakes done to them.” When asked if he was endorsed by the Machine, he responded that it was “not an adequate question” and claimed he had never received any communication from the Machine before eventually admitting that the Machine would likely support him over his opponent.
His platform was passable with his support for the Crisis Text Line and a one-strike policy for sexual assailants. However, no idea he mentioned was ground-breaking, and his support for an entertainment and programming board would likely re-create what University Programs already does well with full-time staff and paid student employees.
His one advantage over Norman was his support of sanctions for organizations that show a repeated pattern of hazing or sexual assaults by members. Norman disappointed this board by preaching accountability for students, faculty and administrators on the issue of sexual assault but opposing organizational sanctions imposed by the University on organizations who repeatedly commit crimes against their members and non-consensual sexual partners. In fact, she had a difficult time articulating who she would hold accountable at all.
While we hope Norman changes her stance on this issue, her opposition to it nowhere near outweighs her many other advantages as a candidate. We do not believe Beasley is prepared to hold this or any SGA executive office. We believe Norman is prepared to hold this office and will discharge her duties well. The CW Editorial Board endorses her for vice president of Student Affairs.
Our View represents the consensus of The Crimson White Editorial Board.