SGA candidates take the stage for debate

Ally Taylor

The Student Government Association sponsored debates between presidential and vice-presidential candidates Tuesday night in the Connelly Center cinema. After waiting 20 minutes for vice-presidential candidate Garrett Olsen to arrive, the debate began at 7:50 p.m. with debate society president Jay Finch moderating the action. Each pair briefly stated their qualifications for the positions, explained their platform and noted major issues they hope to address.

Many concerns revolved around how the candidates plan to structure SGA and reach students.

“SGA needs to start showing the students it cares,” said vice-presidential candidate Mike Capeci. His running-mate, presidential candidate Mark O’Neal, stressed that SGA is accomplishing tasks, but the lack of communication with students makes these achievements unknown to the student body. Their platform, entitled “Your School, Your Way,” promoted a student-friendly student government that keeps everyone well-informed.

To deal with concerns on the 50 percent acceptance rate of SGA applicants this year, opinions differed. O’Neal and Capeci suggested a “the more, the merrier” approach, planning to accept anyone who wants to become involved.

Presidential candidate Ryan Bendinelli and running-mate Diane Ditzel disagreed, stating that the interview process is essential to sort hard-working applicants from the resume-builders. John Von Euw, running with Dave Pedra, also supported the application process, stressing a productive staff with dedicated committee leaders.

One thing all candidates suggested was stronger communication within SGA and with external organizations.

“Our number one priority is to serve the students,” Von Euw said. Their suggestions to increase communication included more “SGA at the Oreo” days, office hours so students would be able to go directly to a member to voice concerns, leadership conferences and a greater presence during Orientation and at the Activities Forum.

Dan Davis, running with Colleen Horn, intends to increase SGA involvement in other campus organizations and clubs.

“We want to go to organizations and see what they want from us,” said Horn.

Taking this idea a step further, Bendinelli and Ditzel suggested a “presidents’ board,” which would consist of the presidents from student clubs who would meet to discuss budgets and help each other promote events. They also suggested meetings intended to target specific student issues by enabling anyone to state an opinion in SGA activities.

Candidates Pat Neely and Olsen suggested utilizing available technology and designing a website for students to voice their concerns online.

One of the recurring suggestions was improvements on the student basketball lottery which was stressed by three of the five groups. Bendinelli and Ditzel proposed Wildcard swiping at sporting events other than men’s basketball games, rewarding students who go to some of the less prevalent sporting events on campus with a higher lottery weight.

Von Euw and Pedra suggested a way to track down students who sell tickets to non-students in order to keep the student section entirely students. Davis and Horn expressed more realistic sentiments on the matter.

“We need to be realistic about what we can do to stop them,” said Davis. He and Horn proposed an “internal E-bay” where students could swap/sell tickets, but still keep the tickets on campus.

One question that was asked of Neely and Olsen was about student concerns with the Arts program and its shortcomings in comparison to the College of Commerce and Finance. Neely’s response stressed the importance of this issue and again promoted a website for students where they could voice concerns and connect with other students who have similar concerns, which was the major component of their platform.

Other concerns with academics were tackled by Bendinelli and Ditzel in their platform. They hope to grant students more influence in the core requirements they must take for classes.

The issue of diversity was brought up to Davis and Horn. They suggested increasing student awareness and advocating student organizations intended to promote awareness and tolerance.