Sparks fly at Student Government Association candidates debate

Paul Rocha

The Student Government Association presidential and vice presidential candidates debated in front of a full room of students on April 7.

The large turnout in the Mabee Ballroom was not the only surprise as the debate started with a meet-and-greet rather than ending with one. The candidates walked around the room, shaking hands and introducing themselves to potential voters who were helping themselves to the courtesy finger food and sodas that were set up in the back.

At 7:30 p.m., everyone was seated and the debate was underway.

The first order of business was the introduction of senatorial candidates.

Each candidate was given 30 seconds to let the audience know what sort of senator they would be and how they would serve their St. Edward’s University student body.

Out of all eight candidates, two were new to SGA, two went over their time limit, and two took the last few moments to plug The Big Event.

After all prospective senators spoke, they were seated, and the presidential and vice presidential candidates were presented to the audience.

The presidential candidates sat as their running mates took to the podiums on stage and the first line of questioning began.

Noah Corn and Ryan Villarreal, the vice presidential candidates, had two minutes to answer each of the questions that were written and asked by moderators Phillip Lacey of St. Edward’s Advancement and former SGA President Austin Lytle.

The candidates were first asked about their individual qualities or strengths that are important to being vice president and chair of the Senate.

Corn stated that his two years of experience with SGA would provide him with the knowledge necessary to be a formidable vice president.

“I have seen rules as they are written,” Corn said. He went on to list specific titles that he held within SGA and named a few of his.

Villarreal’s response began, “Definitely. Actually, I dissent in strong disagreement.”

“It’s about being passionate, it’s about being proactive, it’s about a new vision for SGA. It’s not about rehearsing, it’s not about experience,” Villarreal said, though he did not clarify what “it” was.

More questions were asked, and the candidates continued to contradict each other, Corn standing by his experience, Villarreal standing by his lack thereof.

These positions were solidified as the moderator allowed each of the candidates to asked a question of their opponent.

Corn questioned Villarreal on his experience with SGA and how it would benefit him should he be elected.

“There’s all this legislative experience, but in what? Absolutely nothing,” Villarreal responded, criticizing both Corn’s emphasis on experience and SGA’s previous system of operating.

When Villarreal’s turn to ask a question came, he pulled out a copy of Hilltop Views and read to Corn a statement Corn gave about his efforts in “stabilizing” SGA. Villarreal then asked Corn to give his definition of stability and how he has brought it to SGA.

Corn replied with his list of accomplishments with SGA this year, including appointing senatorial positions in what Corn describes as “turbulent times.”

As Corn concluded his response, both candidates were seated, and the presidential candidates took their places on stage.

Presidential candidates Karissa Eudy and Vianney Becerra were given the same specifications for answering questions as their running mates, but for Eudy and Becerra, a 30-second rebuttal was allowed during the candidate-to-candidate questioning.

The first question asked was about the presidential candidates and their respective running mates’ leadership styles and how they compliment and contrast each other.

Becerra stated, “I have a very diplomatic style of governing. He [Villarreal] brings a little more of an assertive, aggressive style of governing. This is why we’re the best choice, because we balance each other out.”

“I would say Noah and I are actually the opposite,” Eudy said, continuing the contrast that Corn and Villarreal set up through their portion of the debate.

The candidates were later asked to list three goals that they would each set and meet should they be elected. Their responses are summarized as follows.

Eudy’s three goals:

•Be more proactive.

•Require office hours for SGA members to be outside of the office.

•Increase communication within and out of SGA.

Becerra’s three goals:

•Establish common ground within SGA

•Increase collaboration with staff

•Increase the usage of social media

The two candidates then posed questions to each other.

Becerra asked a question about the internal structure of the judicial section of SGA and how Eudy plans to increase collaboration with specific positions. Eudy responded by saying that she wants to see the chief justice on the executive board.

Eudy asked about Becerra’s relationships with administrators and how they’ll benefit her should she be elected president. Becerra responded by adding that she hadn’t developed any strong relations with administrators as of yet, but she looks forward to doing so if she were to be elected.