In less-than-lively ‘debate,’ uncontested candidates share their platforms

Auctions, HBO Max and student farming are among SGA plans for the year ahead.

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Hannah Saad | @hannah_saad21

SGA presidential candidate Jill Fields speaks at Sunday’s forum.

Kayla Solino, Contributing Writer

In the face of an unchallenged executive election, the Student Government Association’s “Presidential and Candidate Debate” more closely resembled a forum. All eight executive seats are unopposed for a second consecutive year. 

The eight executive candidates spoke about their platforms and qualifications in an hour-long  forum for a crowd of about 40 people in Russell Hall on Sunday, Feb. 28. 

The forum was moderated by Quin Kelly, a graduate student studying public health, who asked  the candidates questions that were rotated periodically. Audience members were allowed to ask questions at the end, and submitted questions were taken ahead of time.  

SGA President Demarcus Joiner was there, along with Vice President for Student Life Myron Pope. A number of students attended to ask questions following the forum. 

Presidential candidate Jill Fields highlighted her four C’s platform: connection, community, care and commitment. With these four values in mind, she hopes to organize a celebration in Bryant-Denny Stadium for graduating students and to create an alumni database. 

“My campaign has been really trying to push forward the connection and continuity that we’re really hoping to see over the next year,” Fields said. 

Amidst an all-white group of executive candidates, Fields said she wants to hold monthly meetings with unrepresented campus organizations and build a diverse cabinet of officers. 

Executive vice presidential candidate Sam Rickert wants to enhance guidance and services for students to earn their degrees in four years. Additionally, he hopes to bring a free bike service back to campus after the disappearance of Gotcha Bikes and to increase the number of student subscriptions for services like HBO and ESPN. 

Madeline Martin, vice president for external affairs candidate, wants to create a punch card system with local Tuscaloosa restaurants that allows Bama Cash and Dining Dollars; the system would support local restaurants that have struggled during the pandemic. Martin also envisions a student farm, which could promote environmentally friendly and fresh food options. 

Vice president for financial affairs candidate Sullivan Irvine wants to make traditional business classes more accessible for students outside of the Culverhouse College of Business and hopes to raise money for need-based scholarships through events, like an auction.

Safety, support, services and success are the hallmarks of Jack Steinmetz’s campaign for vice president for student affairs. He said he hopes to address mental health on campus through a potential partnership with the Advisory Council on Wellness, which would educate students on wellbeing. 

Steinmetz is also focused on making the block seating system for home football games equitable and fair. 

Lauren Gilonske discussed education, equity and empowerment, which are central to her campaign for vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). She wants to continue the DEI programming started by Joiner, who was the first person elected by the student body to serve as VP for DEI. Gilonske wants to keep the programming opportunities online and expand the topics discussed to reach a larger audience. The creation of an equity committee, she said, would help keep campus groups and organizations accountable for ensuring equity on campus. 

As executive secretary, Colin Marcum wants to create a tab on the SGA website where anyone can check in on current conversations and projects taking place within the organization to ensure transparency to the student body. Marcum also wants to create an opt-in process for an SGA Newsletter. His main goal for this year is to provide a clear vision of SGA to the rest of campus.