The Mercer University Student Government Association will host a debate for the candidates for the student body presidency.
The debate will take place on March 24 at the Connell Student Center in Bear Necessities at 7 p.m. A virtual option is also available via Zoom.
Current SGA chairman Savannah Lackey said no debate had taken place for three years.
“There was no debate during my freshman year – there was only one candidate on the ticket – and then last year there was (the start of the COVID-19 pandemic) , so we didn’t have a presidential debate between me and the other candidates I ran against, ”Lackey said.
The contenders for the SGA presidency this year are current Vice President Ashton Bearden and sophomore class president Rylan Allen. Both candidates have been involved in SGA for two years. Their running mates are Senator SGA Caleb Mills and Senator SGA Natalie Yaeger, respectively. Yaeger is also the senior lifestyle and opinion writer for the cluster.
“We think it’s really important for the student body to hear why people run, what they’re passionate about and where they stand on different things so that students can make the best, informed decisions for themselves,” Lackey said. . “Mercer is a great school, but there is always more to improve.”
This is the first year that The Cluster will be involved in the debate, which in past years has been moderated by the SGA Election Marshal, who oversees the candidates and their campaigns. Editor-in-Chief Mary Helene Hall will pose questions and talking points to candidates.
Lackey said SGA has discussed The Cluster’s involvement in the past, but this came to fruition this year in order to have an unbiased discourse between the candidates.
“We think it’s important to have the most impartial debate,” Lackey said.
Students can submit their questions to applicants using a form distributed to students via Mercer email.
In previous elections, around 40 to 60 percent of Mercer’s students participated in student government elections, and Lackey hopes the debate will improve turnout.
“People have been clearly active in making sure their views are heard,” Lackey said. “I would love for students to come and vote and also hear what their candidates have to say, because I think it’s really important to vote for someone who cares about the same things as you. “
The presidential elections will take place from March 29 to 30. Students can vote through their MyMercer account.
“I think the students have a very difficult choice in front of them who to vote for (…) because all of the candidates are so wonderful,” Lackey said. “Honestly, I don’t think the scales are tilting one way or the other at this point. I think it’s pretty balanced, but that’s because the candidates are so good.