Photos from Instagram @athinataylor20 @jessandkate2020 @seu_sga / Graphic by Gracie Watt
Over 50 St. Edward’s students and staff tuned into the annual SGA presidential debate on Zoom on April 14. The debate lasted about two hours, and candidates were able to elaborate on their platforms and answer questions both from SGA and students.
Presidential nominee and current vice president of the student body Athina Castañon is running with vice presidential nominee Taylor Huey while presidential nominee Jessica Riley is running with vice presidential nominee Kate Tyler.
Riley and Tyler’s platform focuses on three main points: outreach, advocacy and efficiency. They hope to increase communication and engage with the student body, prioritize student needs and increase “SGAs ability to reach out to faculty, staff and administrators.” They also aim to create structure and procedure within SGA “to allow things to happen smoothly,” according to their campaign Instagram page.
Castañon and Huey’s campaign focuses on encouraging inclusivity, making sexual health resources available to students and providing free menstrual products in on-campus bathrooms. The campaign aspires to support students financially, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve communication on campus by providing closed captions in university videos and translating messages from university administration. The team plans to promote sustainability on campus and provide more mental health resources for students
The debate was moderated by SGA Elections Commissioner Connor Schee. Schee asked the candidates a variety of questions, mainly related to the candidates’ stances and what changes they hope to make if they are elected.
Some of the questions included: What will you do to generate further interest among students in being involved and working with SGA? How do you feel SGA handled and associated with the #YourMoveSEU this year? How do you plan to advocate for the student body over the next few months to help minimize the effects students feel as a result of decisions being made in response to the virus?
Riley’s response to the first question regarding generating further interest among students in being involved with SGA was the following. “One of our biggest points is outreach and what we’ve created is a fairly detailed blueprint of how we would like to do this. We definitely want to establish regular town hall meetings with administration to allow students to bring forth concerns and to engage with SGA as a supportive role and a proactive role — reaching out for those student concerns instead of waiting around for them to get so big or so awful that we have to do damage control.”
Riley also wants to continue bringing student leaders together, continuing the Student Work Social she created this year to encourage networking between student leaders.
When Castañon responded to the same question, she began by noting that SGA had the most diverse Senate this past year that it’s had in awhile.
“That’s something to be really proud about: a Senate made up of people of color that can bring different and diverse voices into the conversation, whether it be through legislation or through meetings. It starts with creating a welcoming environment where students from different backgrounds feel that they have a place at the table and feel welcomed to an organization that may seem intimidating to some,” Castañon added.
Castañon also said that her and Huey plan to focus on the HOOF fund to address food insecurity and other financial needs students have. She also mentioned that she is in meetings with University Provost Andrew Prall to determine solutions that will help students during this time.
Viewers also had a chance to ask questions, which they were able to type into the Zoom chat room or send in before the debate. Many students had concerns about how St. Edward’s will continue to support students through the COVID-19 pandemic and afterwards.
Castañon said that her and Huey plan to focus on the HOOF fund to address food insecurity and other financial needs students have during the pandemic. She also mentioned that she is in meetings with University Provost Andrew Prall to determine solutions that will help students through this time.
To listen to both tickets’ responses to these questions and more, watch the recorded Zoom call posted on SGA’s Facebook page.
Voting opened on April 17 at 5 p.m. and will close on April 22 at 5 p.m. Students are able to vote using their St. Edward’s login credentials.