SGA presidential candidate: Lillian Roth

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Lillian Roth is the incumbent Student Government Association President.

Will Jones

She sits in the back of the room with members of her campaign team, awaiting her turn to speak. She stands up and makes her way toward the front of the room.The audience is comprised of Capstone Coalition members who are meeting to determine who to endorse in the SGA presidential race.

She turns to face the crowd of 30 students and begins her speech.

“Hey guys,” she said, “My name is Lillian Roth, and I have had the privilege of serving as your SGA President, and I have the honor of running again this week.”

With both of her opponents in the room, Roth speaks for roughly seven minutes. After her opponents leave the room she answers questions for another 30,  about her previous Machine backing and the policies she plans to implement if re-elected. 

During the speech, she discusses the importance of the President’s Council, a group Roth promised to form during her previous campaign, and the ideas that come from it. 

She goes on to discuss her plans for ending sexual assault and supporting mental health on campus by doing simple things like putting the University’s Counseling Center phone number on student ACT cards and syllabi. She also notes the importance of sexual assault prevention and says she intends to provide more funding to UA Safe Zone, the Women and Gender Resource Center and the Title IX office. She says campus needs to be more inclusive in all areas.

A few days later, the Coalition announced that Roth is the group’s “preferred candidate.”

So, how did the young woman from Montgomery, Alabama come to make University history by being the first SGA president to seek re-election? Well, it certainly has not been easy.

Roth, a junior majoring in public relations and political science, grew up in Montgomery and attended Girls State in high school, a program where girls learn the importance of civics and run a fictitious government during their stay. 

Roth’s father, Toby Roth, has been a player in Alabama politics for close to two decades, currently serving as a lobbyist for Capital Resources. Roth said growing up she knew she wanted to become involved in politics, particularly student government.

“From this experience [in student government politics] I’ve really fostered a desire to continue to give back to my community after graduation as well,” she said. 

Last March, Roth was elected SGA President after winning a three-way race with 53.87% of the vote. Since that time, she has worked to bring Uber back to campus, pushed for an SGA constitutional Convention, worked on mental health and sexual assault awareness and more. Nevertheless, the last year has not exactly gone as planned for the Roth administration.

After passing a resolution in the Senate and First Year Council calling for a convention to rewrite the SGA Constitution, the resolution was voted down by 59.92% of student voters. 

Now that she is seeking re-election, allegations of inappropriate relationships between herself and the Chair of the Elections Board, Keeli Mallory, have surfaced, in addition to allegations of an inappropriate relationship between Roth and Mary Lee Caldwell, a non-voting staff member of the Elections Board. Jared Hunter’s campaign, in an appeal, displayed a screenshot of a GroupMe message where Roth and others discussed how Mallory “pulled through for her beloved SGA prez…” 

Roth commented on the inappropriate relationship allegations on Wednesday, saying, “Keeli Mallory and Mary Lee Caldwell are two of the most respectable people that I’ve met at my time at the Capstone. They have nothing but integrity and good intentions in their roles.” 

Additionally, on Saturday the Student Judiciary Board recommended an Elections Board investigation into a potential violation by the Roth campaign regarding the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house. 

But through the ups and downs of her presidency and re-election campaign, many of her friends and supporters have stuck by her, even when it was announced that she would seek re-election “with or without the backing” of the Machine. 

Mary Jane Young, a junior accounting major, is a close friend and a Chi Omega sorority sister of Roth’s. The two met during their freshman year through their mothers, who are also sorority sisters. 

Being SGA president requires a lot of work on top of the already rigorous-schedules of student life. Young said Roth does a nice job of balancing the two and is “a very fun person to be around.”

“I just love Lillian’s passion she has for everything that she’s involved in and sets her mind to, whether it’s SGA or her homework or her friends and her relationship with them and her family, she just always puts in 100 percent,” Young said.

A staple of Roth’s campaign this year, and something she discussed in her State of the School address, is the promotion of mental health awareness as well as ending mental health stigmas. 

Daniel Dziadon, a senior majoring in metallurgical and materials engineering, previously worked as the University Interfraternity Council’s health and wellness chair. Shortly after the SGA election last year, Dziadon said Roth approached him for his help on a mental health task force she was putting together. From there, the two developed a friendship and Dziadon became the advisor to the executive vice president and now works for the Roth campaign as deputy campaign manager. 

Dziadon said he wanted to work for Roth’s campaign because of her passion and the electric attitude she has. 

“It makes me want to help students more. It makes me want to see her succeed. You know, it’s rare to find someone that genuinely cares about people as much as she does and is as selfless as she is,” he said.

Dziadon said his initial work with Roth did center around mental health, but is not the sole reason why he wants to help Roth be re-elected.

“It’s more of the fact that she wants to take student input and turn it into those policies,” he said.

Dziadon also said because of her experience, Roth has already developed the relationships needed to succeed in policy implementations.

“That experience is really what boils down to making her the most qualified [candidate],” he said.