SGA Debates Promotes Potential Student Leaders


Courtesy of Pete Caffrey

Pete Caffrey

On Wednesday, March 17., eight students gathered in the Connolly Cinema for the Student Government Association’s debate. Two simultaneous debates were going on: the class of 2021 debate and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences debate. The debate lasted for an hour and the Elections Commission moderated it. They sat in the first row of the audience.

Running for the class of 2021 Senate seats were Matthew Clarkin, Katie Connolly, Brendan Puszcz. Amanda Rappa, and Olivia Snakard. Clarkin ‘21, Connolly ‘21 and Rappa ‘21 are seeking reelection. The candidates were seated based on the office they were running for. Class of 2021 candidates sat towards the left side of the stage, and College of Liberal Arts candidates sat towards the right side of the stage.

Running for senator of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are Owen Barnard’19, Margaret Emamzadeh ‘21, and Ayan Goran ‘19. Barnard and Goran are seeking reelection, while Emamzadeh’21 is running for the first time.

The senators running for reelection in the college of liberal art argued that they have done an excellent job as co-senators for the last several months. The audience seemed, however, less impressed by such a model. As a result, they responded well to Margaret Emamzadeh.

In the early moments of the debate for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the clear winner was Emamzadeh. She came to the debate with new energy and new ideas. Her enthusiasm was contagious. One of the many new ideas that she brought to the table was having professional development ideas exclusive for students in the arts college. 

Emamzadeh pointed out that is one of the areas were students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are most lacking as the other three colleges have these types of the event quite regularly. While her ideas were newer and fresh, one additional advantage she seemed to have was not viewing this debate as a formality. She wants the office and is willing to fight for it.  

Within time incumbent senator Goran rose to the challenge set out by Emamzadeh. She shifted her argument and said how she believed Villanova should work for all. It should also be noted that as her argument moved her position increased. Goran truly believes in inclusion and wants Villanova to better celebrate its diversity.

Barnard did not have the same second wind as Goran. Instead, he chose to stick with the argument that he has been a senator for a long time and has done good work and accomplished a lot. He failed, however, to list any of these so-called accomplishments were.

The main takeaways of the liberal arts debate are that Emamzadeh wants to raise the profile of liberal and make the student in the college proud to be a part of it. Goran wants Villanova to celebrate its diversity.

The debate for senator for the class of 2021 was less contentious. The main argument of Clarkin, Connolly and Rappa is that they have been doing this for a long time and as a result, they know what they are doing. They have been fighting for their classmates and peers for the past year and that they hope to continue to do it. Clarkin had the greatest advantage with talking about the success the freshmen senators have had. He was the first to bring up the previous success. 

Puszcz and Snakard did not have the same campaign platform because they were running for the first time.

In the race for sophomore senator, the argument of experience did not fall flat. That happened because Clarkin, Connolly and Rappa used actual examples of things they have accomplished and projects that they are working towards.

Puszcz, in particular, used a different platform. Rather than saying what the class of 2021 will need it is better to wait and listen to what their needs evolve to after “we move to main campus.” This sentiment was shared by the other candidate later in the debate. Overall, all those running for 2021 do know they need to listen to their classmates to do a good job.

The idea of more student involvement in government was a major theme across both debates. Both sets of running senators believe that more students should be involved, and they have felt there is a lot gain with more town hall meetings. All candidates want Villanovans involved. It makes their jobs easier and more productive. It is easier to serve the community when the community tells you what it wants.

Anna Canino ‘21 attended the debate because she “was motivated to go to the debate to support my friends running for office, Putscz and Rappa,” she said. “I also have never been to a town hall meeting or a SGA event and wanted to get a better feel for our student government on campus.” 

She said she was more convinced of her preferred candidate. “It just reinforced who I wanted to vote for,” she said. “I felt that my vote would be less based on friendship and more on my friend’s amazing policies. I was amazed by the turnout and how well everyone did! I definitely would recommend going.”

The debate provided tremendous insight for the direction that the University’s student leadership will trailblaze as they seek to hold office in the future.