The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

SGA debates showcase candidates, their initiatives

Lola Claire / Hilltop Views
Debates for the 2023-2024 elections were held in the Jones Auditorium and allowed for candidates to speak on their campaign and plan for if they are elected.

Debates for the 2023-2024 Student Government Association elections took place on Sept. 25 in the Jones Auditorium. There were roughly a dozen attendees, with more trickling in as the debates continued. Attendees had the opportunity to submit questions for candidates to address.

The debates opened with the senatorial candidates, which included Tate Burchfield, Isaiah Hoffman, Estella Grace and Louie Moore. 

Burchfield’s focus for his candidacy is centered around inclusion, with the intention of bringing halaal and kosher friendly dining options to campus. When asked about what he thought the biggest issue facing St. Edward’s is, Burchfield answered accessibility and how some people on campus don’t have access to food when their only option is to prepare their own meals.

Hoffman has experience leading and commanding groups and wants to open lines of communication to bring back student clubs and organizations that were affected by the pandemic. 

Grace pointed out two priorities: campus safety and mental health resources. She also stressed student involvement. Grace’s plan for increasing student involvement is to work with counseling services and taking student voices into consideration to improve mental health, and subsequently, academic success.

“We are family, and we care for one another,” Grace said. 

Moore wants to be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and wants to implement preferred names on Canvas and packages that are delivered to students. Moore also wants to make more menstrual products, such as pads, available across campus. With experience in multiple government programs in high school, Moore emphasized his ability to execute his goals. 

The vice presidential debates featured candidates Austin Lane and Justin Trevino

Lane’s campaign stressed communication. 

“Communication is key; without communication we are nothing,” Lane said. 

Lane attributed his ability to represent St. Edward’s to the legislation he has worked on this year as a senator. The bills he’s brought forth concern a student reporting system for safety issues. He is very familiar with the Office of Student Involvement and wants to unite students while also taking account for all the different opinions on campus.

Trevino emphasized plans to make SGA more transparent and visible to students. He wants more collaboration between senators and between student organizations. Changes he would like to make to campus include more symbols of representation and more accessibility. This includes a dog park for those with emotional support animals near Maryhill and Hilltopper Heights apartments.

Finally, the presidential candidates, Mikayla Pastrano and Luis Rios, approached the stage for their debates.

Pastrano emphasized her role as Chief-of-Staff of the SGA and wants to implement transparency between the Senate and the students. With access to conversations with staff and faculty, she wants to advocate for student organizations in a direct line of communication. 

“If you’re too big to serve, you’re too small to lead,” Pastrano said.

Rios emphasized that as a first-generation student and College Assistance Migrant Program scholar he wants to represent students of diverse backgrounds. Rios’ first order of business would be to create spaces for student-led feedback and talking to student organizations to see what students believe need to be implemented.

“I want to be a leader that’s accessible (and) visible,” Rios said.

Voting can be accessed through Collegiate Link and closes at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

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About the Contributor
Hailey Womack
Hailey Womack, News Editor
Hailey Womack is a junior English major with a minor in Journalism & Digital Media. This is her third semester with Hilltop Views and her first year as News Editor. She's very passionate about the Austin area, as she has been a native all of her life. When not reading romantic period books, she enjoys playing basketball.

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