The SGA Debate: Candidate Forum 2012
Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:59
The SGA candidate forum held April 2, in the library proved to have its share of highlights. With Elections Committee Chair Danny Nguyen moderating, the forum took on a new format compared to years past. He had candidates draw envelopes at random and answer a question. Then, each opposing candidate had 30 seconds to rebut. At the end, there was a chance to student questions.
Treasurers were up first, with Jean Pierre Ardidti, William Pearson, and Jacob Weatherly running for the the office. They all echoed each other on the importance of accountability and being balanced. The first student question was a bomb, with Senator Sean Ramsey addressing the impeachment of 2011-2012 SGA Attorney General Arditi.
"You've been impeached, your pay has been cut as a result, why should I trust you with almost half a million dollars?" Sean asked.
Arditi responded that he learned his lesson, and "it shouldn't be an issue."
Arditi was impeached by the senate after a 2011 summer ethics violation involving a parking ticket appeal. He took a pay cut and was allowed to keep his job.
Vice-presidential candidates Coleman Wolf and Cori Barnett took the hot seat next.
Barnett has no former SGA experience at all. He spoke to his qualifications being "strong leadership and motivation to push people to get things on time." He seeks to increase retention and increase SGA morale, as well.
Wolfe stated that "small goals" would assist the SGA in keeping up moral.
Barnett proposed SGA luncheons for bonding.
Presidential candidates Jessica Byrd, Parker Chastain, Troy Shephard, Zain Husain and Rachel Wyers sat down to debate following the vice-presidential candidates.
Byrd states that one of the most important things about being president is "accountability." She said when dealing with senators, she would ask them if they really felt they were capable of their duties. She looks for more action in next year's senate.
Chastain also seconded accountability as being a cornerstone of presidency.
Husain said that the most important part was doing whatever it takes to help students.
Rachel answered the question by saying visibility was key.
In regards to SGA commitees, the candidates took divergent tactics and touched on the lack of participation that the 2011-2012 senate showed with office hours and committee leadership.
Chastain- "You need to work for it, and I want to see you work for it."
Husain- "If you don't do your duties, you will be held accountable."
In order to increase diversity within SGA, Shephard states that using media outlets to their full advantage would allow SGA to draw from a larger pool of resources and therefore promote diversity.
Wyers seconded Shephard by emphasing the importance of diversity and representation on SGA.
Byrd said that because she is taking a light load of classes, she will have optimal time to devote to SGA and helping with these issues.
On the topic of leadership, Husain used the word "motivate" to describe why he would make a good leader. "I'm a personal trainer, I push people. Pushing people is important."
Shephard said that the best leadership is "serving by example." He said that if other senators and officers see him in the office working and at events, then it sets the tone of what he would expect from them.
Wyers stated that diversity would be key to her leadership, by bringing more to the SGA table.
When asked what the most important issue at USA is, the candidates responded with a common theme.
Shephard said listed parking, mandatory meal plans when the cafeteria closes too early, and scheduling conflicts as among the top issues. He stated that the SGA needs to re-asset itself as "the student voice, and speak on their behalf."
Wyers said tuition and parking, and suggested buying land to make more parking lots.
Byrd said that parking is an issue, and that SGA must show a united front to bring forth change.
Chastain said that while there is a parking issue, academics are more important and that with 1,100 classes dropped last semester, that retention was key. He suggested working closely with the Office of Academic Student Retention to promote skills to help students succeed.
Husain answered that parking is a "big problem" and that there have been "two shootings" and "we have got to get away from being a commuter campus."
The Vanguard would like to clarify that there have not been two shootings. There was a fatal stabbing over the summer on campus in the Delta 6 dorm, and a shooting across from campus earlier this semester in January.
When asked what qualifies them best as president, Byrd said that she has conquered the learning curve with her experience.
Chastain called himself "proactive" and a "listener" to the student body.
Husain promoted his leadership by calling himself "motivated."
Shephard, proposed a 3-month plan. Calling out the lack of productivity in the summer months, he believes his drive can get the ball rolling early and therefore set SGA off on the right foot in the fall. By sharing information and using the time, "SGA can get very involved, early."
The Vanguard (Editor Cassie Fambro) asked the candidates how they would increase visibility and their relationship on campus, especially with the student body.
Byrd: People ask questions, and we need to tell our side of the story. We need to have a good relationship with The Vanguard.
Chastain: It's your responsibility as SGA to go out to The Vanguard and establish communications.
Husain: Technology should help communication. Transparency is an 8 out of a scale of 1-10. "We need to get the story out there before The Vanguard gets crap information or before SGA screws up."
The Vanguard would like to illuminate that the information we received form SGA has often been wrong, this year.
Shephard answered by proposing media reports on a weekly basis to The Vanguard. "Go to the media."
Wyers suggested printing a calendar in The Vanguard of meeting topics and SGA meeting locations.
The debate was closed even though a few students still had questions.
The Vanguard devoted 17 pages of content this week to candidate information, so please visit our website at thevanguardonline.com for more information about everyone running. Ballots should be out via Jaguar 1 email.
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