Candidates for Student Government make their case

March 27, 2019


From puppy days to ecofreindly transportation, three sets of candidates for student body president and vice president made their pitch in a debate a week before the election in the Student Union Tuesday.


Running mates Cameron Forsythe and Dillon Horter, Becca Sturges and Maddie Lawson and Dhaval Bhakta and Jersey McClendon made their case for office and presented policy platforms. 


The presidential candidates’ opening statements provided a glimpse into their backgrounds, current fields of study and plans for the future. 


Bhakta framed himself as a not-so-typical candidate—the son of a farmer from India. 


Sturges presented her candidacy as that of an outsider; she is majoring in the medical field, not politics—something she sees as a strength. 


Forsythe opened with an agenda-driven approach and said he would focus on implementing initiatives based on student input. 


The first major policy question two candidates faced hung on “how to make campus greener.” 


Forsythe said it is “an area that could be improved” and proposed (in part) reduced printing requirements for classes coupled with student recommendations on how to facilitate an eco-conscious campus.


Sturges is interested in focusing on environmentally friendly transportation. 


There were wide ranging ideas from the candidates on bussing, academic advising and student government participation. 


Students took the floor and asked questions on policy and leadership. 


Questions focused on implementing living learning communities, or LLCs, the dynamics and outreach of multicultural organizations and curbing the stigma of mental illness on campus.


“Mental health and the stigma around it is a major issue,” Bhakta said.  


He added, it is his responsibility as a leader to provide and improve university resources like the Counseling Center and called for “puppy days” on campus to relieve stress. 


Sturges mentioned the Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Sammy Span and his efforts to improve the Counseling Center and her plans to broaden the conversation on other mental illnesses in addition to anxiety and depression. 


Forsythe echoed that sentiment while advocating for partnerships with community organizations on top of bolstering the services of the counseling center.


The debate’s format permitted vice presidential candidates to speak and followed the same format their counterparts faced. 


Each opened with a message focused on service and/or their qualifications for office and largely built on their running mates’ positions. 


The vice candidates’ first question dealt with on-campus living requirements. 


Horter suggested a one-year requirement of on-campus living as opposed to the two-year requirement currently in place. He said a certain GPA would be necessary to opt out of the second-year mandate. 


Lawson called for keeping the two-year provision while looking into questions of affordability. 


McClendon did not mention a change in the rule, but instead called for improvements for campus residents “so students have something to do.” 


Voting is open from April 1 to April 4 on InvoNet. 

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