The UK Student Government Association held its presidential debate on February 22. The three candidates for student body president are Andrew Laws, Isaac Sutherland, and Lydia Deaton.
The first post is Sutherland, a sophomore from Huntington, West Virginia, with a double major in political science and community development and leadership.
“The reason I wanted to run is because I think we have a vision that works for a lot of students. We knew there would be a niche opening and we knew there would be a good competition, but we wanted to be different,” Sutherland said. “For us, being different didn’t just mean new policies and different ideas. It was going to be this idea of giving us a mission instead of a ticket.
Sutherland and his running mate Mallory Hudson served together on the executive branch within SGA. He asked her to run with him at the start of the school year; they began working on their campaign in November.
He said he believes student advocacy should begin before, not after, a president takes office.
Sutherland plans to have a meeting on Thursday to build a mental health program that can be extended to all student organizations. The student body president is given a position on the board of trustees and a vote in school-related decisions; Sutherland said he sees this vote as an opportunity to make change.
“Can you just imagine what we can do whenever we have the platform to do amazing things – not just mobilize SGA, but that vote of the board? That vote doesn’t make sense, it is not symbolic. This vote has an incredible impact,” Sutherland said.
Every campaign policy from Sutherland and Hudson comes from the students they were able to meet, they said. They want to make it a point to bridge the gap with student ideas.
“If you look at our logo, it’s not our names in the middle; it’s ‘Bridge the Gap’, and it’s because the mission is going to be so much bigger,” Sutherland said.
On ticket two is Deaton, a junior from Campbell County, Kentucky, majoring in electrical engineering. Deaton said she decided to run for student body president because the school she fell in love with was unrecognizable and slowly slipping away last semester. That’s why she wants to revive the UK and make sure it continues to be the place that made people want to be Wildcats.
Deaton saw how COVID was affecting student life and noticed safety issues such as sexual assaults, carjackings, and even dorm burglaries this school year, and she knew something had to be done.
Deaton and his running mate, Landry Woodrum, could be the underdogs in this election. Neither have served on student senate or been involved with the SGA thus far.
“I decided to run because I wanted to make sure that student government was for students and that they were really working on issues that affected students that were not currently involved in the SGA,” said said Deaton. “Ensuring that the priorities of students who may not know what student government is are heard and supported.”
Deaton and Woodrum have known each other since college and are part of 4-H, a youth development and mentoring organization.
“We were both involved at the district level, so we were able to interact there and really work on our leadership skills,” Deaton said. “Landry was president of Kentucky 4-H last year, so I know he has a lot of experience working with people, and he also brings a unique perspective to the ticket because he’s part of the College of Agriculture.”
Both believe they have the skills and qualifications to thrive in the SGA office if given the opportunity.
Although Deaton has never held a position in the SGA, she believes her lack of SGA experience does not disqualify her from representing students and making a change for the better.
Addressing the audience at the debate, Deaton said: ‘Like many of you all here, I’m sure there was something you decided you were uniquely qualified for, and you pursued it. and you took the initiative to get those leadership roles.
Deaton also isn’t intimidated by the fact that she’s the only female presidential candidate running.
“I know I can do the job as well as any other candidate. I know being a woman is sometimes something people use to get behind,” Deaton said. “While I want women to be represented in everything they do, I don’t want people to vote for me just because I’m a woman. I want them to vote for me because they believe in what I do.
On ticket three is Andrew Laws, a junior from Edgewood, Kentucky, majoring in public policy and economics. He served two years in student government as a senator, currently serving as chairman of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee. He was also involved in many committees within his fraternity. He currently sits on Beta Theta Pi’s board of directors as Vice President of Legal Affairs.
“At the end of the day, this is not a campaign against anyone. This is a campaign for all of you,” Laws said.
Laws met his running mate Amelia Pace through student government. Their campaign is based on three core principles: accessibility and transparency, student ownership and engagement, and holistic health and wellness.
Laws met with nearly 100 student organizations on campus, and he said seeing how diverse the UK is and hearing from people across the community has been a rewarding part of his election campaign.
Laws is on a pre-law path and has always been interested in the growth of American presidents, idolizing John F. Kennedy in particular.
“I just think he was a good leader and represented a lot of what America really thought at the time,” Laws said. “He fought for a lot of good things. He’s always someone I want to try to emulate in any leadership role.
Laws and Pace said it wants to be accessible to students and use their voices to be the advocates this university needs.
“Even if we lose, we really want to make sure that we still promote those policies that are in the best interests of students with the administration,” Laws said. “While the UK is a great place there are a few issues and things can be improved. We want to take what we have learned and whether it is in or out of the office we want to make sure it is passed on to administration.
Voting begins Monday, February 28 and ends Tuesday, March 1. Students can vote via a link connected to their BBNvolved account. There will also be in-person voting booths where students can vote. The location of these kiosks is to be determined at this time. The presidential debate can be watched here.