Note: candidate for SGA vice-president Natalie Yaeger is employed by The Cluster as Senior Lifestyle and Opinion Editor.. This does not help or impact our coverage of her regarding the race.
As the SGA presidential election approaches, the organization’s debate on Wednesday allowed candidates to answer questions about their ideas and policies. The debate also allowed the students to ask questions of the candidates. Here are the highlights of the debate.
The debate format
During the debate, the candidates took turns answering questions from the moderator, the editor-in-chief of the Cluster. Marie Hélène room. Candidates usually had three minutes to respond, with the opposing candidate then responding. The candidate who went first was decided by a toss before the debate.
All candidates were able to answer questions within the allotted time. Here are their answers to some of the evening’s most important questions and issues.
What are your campaign platforms?
Rylan Allen and Natalie Yaeger spoke about their three main campaign platforms: diversity, mental health and communication and transparency. These three points for Allen and Yaeger led to discussions about having more diverse texts in Mercer Integrative Studies and Great Books programs and helping students get better advice from counseling and psychology services. .
The four platform ideas for Ashton Bearden and Caleb Mills are transparency, sustainability, accountability, and health and wellness. The duo addressed issues with Mercer’s lack of recycling and created a way to raise awareness about mental, physical and sexual health by forming a committee to work with Mercer’s facilities and administration in these areas.
What is the job of an LMS agent?
Both campaigns have answered this question quickly and passionately, largely agreeing on the role of an SGA officer. Bearden and Mills emphasized the importance of communication and advocacy for the student body. Allen and Yaeger reiterated this point in their own response.
“It’s our job to help all of you and represent all of you,” Yaeger said. “We’re only good if we work together (…) This is the only way we’re going to make a stronger Mercer and a stronger community as a whole.”
Both campaigns aligned with this issue, stating that the job of SGA members is to represent the student body and solve problems within the university.
How will you communicate with the administration? What if you don’t agree?
A key part of being President or Vice President of SGA is responding to the needs and issues of students in discussions with the Mercer administration. In response to this question, Bearden and Mills made it clear their commitment to persist on the topic of discussions with the administration.
“What’s really important is not just to say to someone ‘Oh I want you to do this’ but to follow up,” Mills said. “If they don’t really want to do something that we’re suggesting, just ask, ‘Hey, do you have a solution,’ just tire them out to make sure we get a response and do something about it.”
Allen and Yaeger leaned more into the communication part of the question, with an emphasis on keeping students informed. Allen mentioned the mural that was removed from Mercer Village last year as a clear example of administration not communicating with students because many students did not know why it was deleted. Allen says acting as a link between the students and the administration will lead to better communication between the two.
“A lot of the students didn’t know anything about (the mural), but the administration told us it was a contract mural and was not supposed to stay,” Allen said. “But it would have been nice if the students had known that so that they could express their dislike for the removal of this.” What we want to do is create clear channels of communication between the administration and ourselves so that you feel that SGA represents you all.
How do we know you’re not just running around to create your CV?
Both candidates acknowledged the office could be a resume booster, but said being president isn’t about the title.
“My intention for this position is not my resume. I was vice president last year, ”said Bearden. “When I thought about running for this position, I didn’t want to do it this year (…) but I had already spent three years with SGA. I felt I had to use this experience to train new leaders and advocate for students. “
Allen had a similar response, citing his status as class president over the previous two years and his use of this position to connect with students in the past.
“If you’re in sophomore here you’ve probably gotten dozens of emails from me, and I’m sorry, but hey, the reason I’m doing this is to make sure you know what’s going on.” happening on campus and what is happening on administration, ”Allen said. “I also make sure that under my electronic signature is my phone number and I use social media a lot. “
What can you do that your opponent can’t or won’t do?
This question gave candidates the opportunity to explain why they are unique, and both campaign teams took advantage. Allen highlighted the importance of his campaign team’s diversity, specifically citing his ability to connect with students of color and LGBTQIA + students at Mercer.
“There have only been two black SGA presidents on campus,” Allen said. “I believe that when students elect the president, they want to make sure that they elect the candidate for president and vice-president who they think will be able to defend them, to have the same life experiences. than them in order to understand what the students want. . “
Allen supported this point by emphasizing his ability to represent these groups.
“Being a black man, I am also a gay man. I believe the students on this campus who come from the LGBTQ and minority community are able to resonate with the larger view of the person, which means they think I can stand up for one as well, ”Allen said.
Bearden and Mills emphasized their goal of representing everyone, especially women, by creating a more diverse staff of SGA members.
“You look at us and you see two men. And you wonder where is the representation of women, ”said Bearden. “That’s why we want the board of directors of the president and vice president to be predominantly made up of women, as well as creating a student cabinet that would have 24 different backgrounds around campus that would communicate directly with us. “
Bearden said the diverse student cabinet would meet once a month and speak to the president and vice president directly before meeting with university president Bill Underwood and dean of students Doug Pearson.
After the debate, it is clear that both campaign teams attach great importance to the themes of mental health and diversity. Applicants also recognized the importance of communication and transparency, making sure to promise students that their concerns would be clearly expressed to university management.
As the March 29-30 election date approaches, students will decide which of these two campaign teams to vote for. Students can vote online through their MyMercer and CourseEval accounts.