SGA candidates debate policies, platforms

Oscar Abello

This past Wednesday, students gathered in the Connelly Center Cinema for the Student Government Association debates. SGA candidates made mixed impressions on the audience as each presented themselves for the first time and took questions from election commissioners and audience members. Each of the senatorial, vice presidential and presidential candidates revealed to the audience, during their respective debates, their strengths and weaknesses as potential SGA members.

Three tickets are running for President/Vice President: John Ambrose/Jeff Morris, Derek Martin/Chris Day and James Smith/John DellaNoce. For the three liberal arts senator positions, four candidates are running: Eileen Thomasmeyer, Jennifer Woytovich, Anthony Albanese and Brian Murry. For the single Sciences senator position, three candidates are running: Daniel Davis, Kristopher May and Christopher Meehan. Engineering, Nursing and Commerce and Finance senatorial candidates are uncontested, hence they were not present at the debate. In those races that are contested, voting begins Thursday April 7 at noon, via e-mail, and concludes at noon the next day.

Presidential Candidate John Ambrose introduced himself as a former member of the SGA Campus Improvement Committee and current member of the SGA Executive Board. Running mate Jeff Morris is also a current Executive Board Member. “The bottom line is,” John remarked, “We’ve had a ball so far serving in SGA and that’s why we’re excited to be running for president and vice president.” Morris also made it known that they have already in place an executive board, ready to take over almost instantly if their ticket should prevail. “For example,” Morris offered, “We would reinstate the ‘Nova Nation Committee to help raise on-campus morale, and it would be headed by current students Phil Consuegra and Brian Lamsback.”

Presidential Candidate Derek Martin, alongside running mate Chris Day, introduced himself, Day, and their ticket’s comprehensive agenda. According to Martin, “We have spent seven months researching, crafting and discussing our agenda with students, faculty, administration and local community leaders.”

Among their ideas is a comprehensive housing plan, potentially featuring a housing fair with local landowners and a housing guide for students interested in off-campus housing.

Another unique proposal was their “Older and Wiser” program, in which interested seniors would mentor freshmen, helping them to get oriented to life on a college campus. Martin and Day were the only ticket to promise the creation of an SGA Diversity Committee that would work with existing multicultural groups, and also a Women’s Issues Committee.

Presidential Candidate Jim Smith, alongside running mate John DellaNoce, introduced himself as a former E-Board member of Up ’till Dawn and current vice president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He was very direct in stating that “When something needs to be done, we will do it, and we will do it best.”

He highlighted several things that he and DellaNoce believe need to be done, such as gaining permission for nursing students to park on West Campus, especially around St. Mary’s, where the College of Nursing is located. Smith and DellaNoce were the first to point out that the student gyms in Stanford and Farley Halls are badly in need of renovation. Many of their ideas stayed along these simple, practical and convenient lines, in particular their proposal to increase funding for all Career Services Offices, with the hope of extending this practicality beyond the campus.

Senatorial Candidates were equally impressive in their presentations. Eileen Thomasmeyer, running for Arts Senator, introduced herself and her priorities as a potential senator. First would be raising awareness of who SGA is. “I would want everyone to know who I was, so that they can bring to me any issues they might wish SGA to address,” she remarked. A key issue for Thomasmeyer was advising in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, both career advising and academic advising, which she stated as inefficient in some areas with much room for improvement.

Arts Senatorial candidate Jennifer Woytovich introduced herself as a transfer student with extensive experience in Student Government. Her first priority was to “make sure people know they are represented, and what SGA does for them.” Woytovich mentioned freshman year housing as an issue, noting that more extensive surveying should be conducted to insure that freshmen are not placed in detrimental housing situations.

Anthony Albanese, running for Arts Senator, introduced himself as a local student with clear ideas for the College of Arts and Sciences. In particular he noted that Arts and Sciences students, despite being central to the university, are not, in comparison, as well-provided for as students in other schools within the University. He added that those services that do exist are not promoted as well as they should be.

Arts Senatorial candidate Brian Murphy began his introduction by saying that SGA needs to be true medium, and should be more efficient. “There needs to be more cohesion with the legislative and executive branches,” he said, “and also between SGA and other groups such as Blue Key, Campus Activities Team, and more.” He was the only senator to mention a student review board, to help aid students in appealing administrative and judicial decisions.

Daniel Day, running for Sciences Senator, was a poignant presence in the Sciences Senatorial Debate. He said that “[SGA] has no respect at all, I feel.” His first priority as potential Sciences Senator would be to make SGA a more prominent society to gain more respect.

Sciences Senator Kristopher May was unable to attend the debates due to a family emergency.

Christopher Meehan, Sciences Senator candidate, introduced himself as the incumbent in his race. He has held this position for two years, and his future plans included an “Organic Hors D’ouevres” section in the salad bars across campus. He was sure to note that if he were to prevail, his experience these past two years would insure a seamless transition.

“It [the debate] may not have been publicized as well as it should have been,” noted freshman Mai-Linh Tran. “But the candidates seemed to be well-prepared, generally comfortable onstage, and not afraid to voice their personal differences, repeatedly. In fact, the debates were pretty heated at times, although for the most part the candidates retained their professionalism.”

The debates were moderated by election commission members Molly Barrett and Scott Donnelly and supervised by Director of Student Development Thomas Mogan.

“Although it is slightly disappointing that more candidates are not running, the current SGA is seeking ways to increase interest,” Mogan said. “But as for tonight, I really liked our format. It allowed the candidates to address a lot of truly pressing issues; you can easily tell what each candidate seems to bring to the table their own level of experience and ideas.”