SGA Debates: The Vice Presidents

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After the presentation from the presidential candidates, the debate switched focus to the six vice presidential executive board positions.

The first candidates to be questioned were those running for the vice presidents of student organizations: Jessica Rozycki (Ignite), Libby Deiters (Evolve) and Tyler Sondag (Building Bridges).

Porterfield posed the first question to these candidates, asking what could be done about student apathy at SLU.

“People just really aren’t excited to support SLU, we need to go at it with a personal approach and just be real to get them excited in this campus,” Sondag said.

Deiters and Rozycki suggested social networking as a key to getting students involved. Facebook networking and pages were important to Deiters, as was setting up a blog that CSO’s could communicate through.

Financial Vice Presidential candidates Joe Woster for Ignite, Sarah El Khatib for Evolve and Jonathan Serpas for Building Bridges were the next to take the stage.

The three were asked how all the needs of the student organizations could be met without an increase in the student activity fee. Khatib argued that the Great Issues Committee should be brought back under the SGA umbrella so that all speakers could go under GIC so there is not any cross over with speakers. She also stated it should be maintidtory for elections for leadrship positions withing student organizations should take place during annual funding to avoid confusion from year to year.

Woster felt that greater transperancy as to were students money is being spend is important for accountablility of funds and to fit the student’s needs. Communication of the finance policies and guidelines was the key point for Serpas as he wants to better inform Chartered Student Organizations of their financial resources.

The candidates for Academic Vice President, Grant Podolski for Ignite, Patrick Grillot for Building Bridges, and Lauren Chalmers for Evolve, were questioned next. The candidates were asked to comment on how they thought the Student Success Center could be improved.

Each candidate praised the center’s efforts, but felt it could be updated with new opportunities and resources. Grillot stated that the center needed to work with students of all levels of preparedness. Chalmers suggested creating specialized study space for various majors iin the library, while Podolski offered an idea for an Alumni Database to help SLU students find jobs.

“The after college experience is laging in some of the services offered, an alumni database is something that is needed that can connect students with potential networks for employement opportunities and many other school has this already,” Podolski said.

Grillot stated that he believed the best way to approach helping students with their careers was to first survey the students on the matter and to set up an evaluation system for mentors.

“We have great services in place to help students, but we can and should do more to serve the them,” Grillot said. “I think that the services in place are being used by students but more students need to be informed about these services that are offered.”

The students running for Vice President of Internal affairs spoke next. Brett DeLaria for Evolve, Scott Hessel for Building Bridges, and Kathleen Cadigan for Ignite were asked by Smith what they thought the most important role of the Internal VP was.

“Earlier we asked a question, does SLU love you? If elected next year, I would like to ask every student; does SGA love you? I think that the primary role of the VP for Internal Affairs has to be to reach out to the students,” Hessel said. “I want to come in and I don’t want to continue with SGA business as usual, I think I am in the strongest position because I have the freshest perspective.”

DeLaria also felt that the Internal VP’s role was to hold senators accountable to their constituents, but he also placed a value on transparency within the organization and an increased SGA presence.

“Getting senators out in the field is key at CSO events so they know where their money is going to so they know the mission of the CSO they know where their money is going they can see the community that is being built and evolved as they work together,” DeLaria said.

Cadigan stated that she thought the job of the Internal VP was to empower the student body through SGA senators and she expressed her experience on SGA as key in that process. She expressed that he platform point of holding first year senator elections was an important part of this endeavor.

“It’s easy for the prospective candidates for Vice President of Internal Affairs to say ‘I’m going to require senators to do this, I’m going to require senators to do that, but I don’t think that’s enough,” said Cadigan, “People should be excited about SGA and be aware of what is really going on and that really starts with the first year experience.”

The next question asked how the candidates would handle the responsibilities of the position while still being a successful student. Cadigan stated that her previous experience on SGA would enable her to remain productive in this role.

“I was able to manage a lot of different records, and this is very important for the Vice President of Internal Affairs because there has to be a good relationship between the VP and the committee. I will strive to do this and relate any problems I have so that we can work together.”

De Laria also stated that he would reach out to the senators for help in his position if elected.

“If we are going to be servant leaders to serve each other and serve our community, there has to be a level of delegation to give senators a chance to be leaders.”

Hessel cited his previous leadership experience outside of SGA as proof that he is capable of working efficiently in the position.
“It has to be organization, organization, organization. I am humble enough to say that I may not do everything right and that I will give senators a chance to help with these things.”

The canidates for Vice President of Social Justice and Diversity spoke next. The first question asked Kripa Sreepade of Building Bridges, Myiah Johnson of Ignite, and John Gallagher of Evolve was what they thought SLU would look like if it were a truly inclusive campus.

Sreepade stated that inclusion would need to start at the top, namely with the executive board of SGA.

“I think when we look at diversity at SLU, we think SLU has a lot of diversity. But the meaning of diversity isn’t in place here. The true meaning is one of inclusion and that means looking at someone different than you and seeing the difference, respecting it, and learning and growing from it.”

Johnson also agreed that having a ticket that believed strongly in diversity was the first step towards creating a more inclusive SLU.

“Inclusion goes beyond tolerance and goes into acceptance. SLU can’t be inclusive if the students are not.”

Gallagher said that he thinks the best way to promote inclusion is through education, more specifically through his platform point of the Intergroup Dialogue Program.

“In reality, diversity is a continuum of development that occurs with various social identities. To be inclusive would take a large movement within the student population. The oath of inclusion adds a great top-down approach, but in order to create the change SLU needs, we need to educate.”

The next question asked how the candidates would engage the underrepresented student groups on campus.
Gallagher again touted educating the student best as the best means of ensuring all groups are represented.

“In order to promote the support necessary for all groups, we need an education program to further people’s self awareness for what needs to be done.”

Johnson also agreed that education was the most practical route to ensure equal representation.

“We need to help educate the community as to what diversity is. We tend to think of the minority spotlight, not differences period. We need to help people understand there is more than one way to look at diversity.”

Sreepada stated that education was key, but also increase communication among all students groups and SGA.

“It all starts with how we treat one another and with our attitude to what diversity is.”

The last group to be question were the candidates running for Vice President of International Affairs: Federico Garcia Lorca of Ignite, Stephanie Song of Building Bridges, and Ximena Cordon of Evolve.

The first question regarded what they saw as the most pressing issue facing international students on SLU’s campus. Lorca stated that he felt international students weren’t aware of the resources available to them, like the International Affairs Committee.

“I believe one of the worst things that can happen to an international student is not knowing what SLU can offer them.”

Song believed the greatest problem facing international students was their inability to reach out and express themselves.

“Students come her to get involved and experience new things, but they are unable to because of the lack of understanding between domestic students and international students.”

Cordon stated that the greatest obstacle was the cultural barrier that exists between domestic student and international students.

“There is a need to have more communication. I want to push this through with my goal of creating Billiken Buddies for International Students.”

The final question asked what the candidates hoped to accomplish if elected. Cordon said she hoped to make SLU a more diverse campus.

“Diversity is a word that is misused, as we don’t have a diverse of a campus as we would like.”

Song wanted to see SLU become an open and diverse home for international students and she wanted to see SLU become a model for an accepting campus.

“I have a dream that SLU will become famous for having domestic students and international students mingle together.”

Lorca said he hoped to leave behind an efficient IAC that worked for students.

“I would like to see a IAC that is strong and really able to get the word out. A committee that shows students can be helped.”