SGA presidential candidates Ben Motyl of the T.O.G.A. (Together Our Goals Achieved) Party and Rogers (Buddy) Clements of the Distance Party debated Tuesday at common hour in the ballroom of the Student Center.
Motyl began the debate by introducing himself and his party. He stated that he tried to create a diverse senate by finding students of a variety of different majors and class rankings. The major tasks that his party wants to address include better representation of graduate students, avocation for club sports, green initiatives, ADA compliance in the classrooms, and scheduling.
“SGA needs to be more accommodating and appealing to graduate students,” Motyl explained. “We want to help them as a student organization. A lot of you know from [reading] the Rocket that AGS, the association of graduate students, wanted funding from SGA. There were a lot of things that we couldn’t fund. So we want to help them, be able to accommodate them more, and get them more involved with their organizations and SGA. That way we can help them receive the most beneficial educational experiences to further their careers.”
Motyl then explained his stance on club sports. According to him, in 2007 there were eight intercollegiate varsity teams that were cut due to Title 9. As intercollegiate teams, players were granted access to all facilities and fields. Now that these teams are only recognized as club sports, they do not have access to the fields anymore. Motyl hopes to work with SRU administration in order to grant access to the fields for club sports when the intercollegiate teams are not using them.
Sustainability was Motyl’s next speaking point. He stated that he wanted to further the green initiatives on campus. In order to do this, Motyl suggested that campus builds a new Greek sign.
“Greeks are something that SGA does not always represent as much,” Motyl said. “So we want to reach out to them more and get them a new sign in front of the entrance of campus by Kiester Road. It’s something that’s sustainable as well as beautiful.”
Then Motyl explained his thoughts on ADA compliance. He stated that a lot of thought and money has recently been exclusively put into the new student center. Motyl believes this is unfair because students spend much more time in the classroom buildings than the student center. Because of this, Motyl has been thinking about ways to improve the classroom buildings.
“In Eisenberg and Spotts, the doors are both small and they take a long time to open up when you hit the handicap button,” Motyl explained. “So we need to consider getting new doors, or getting a new motor into these systems so they open up faster. ADA compliance is not alright, we need to go above and beyond that to make this a more friendly campus.”
The final topic that Motyl talked about in his introduction was the issue of scheduling.
“I just want to make this clear upfront, in no way, shape, or form does the T.O.G.A. party or myself want to take away any kind of scheduling privileges from anyone,” Motyl stated. “But we want to tackle this area because scheduling is something that a lot of us don’t like on campus. The idea we had is to reformat the current structure we have and make it based on a merit system and reward the people who have been here longer.”
Going by this plan, student athletes and students with disabilities would still be the first to schedule. Then honors seniors would schedule their classes, then seniors, then honors juniors, then juniors, and so on. Motyl explained that this was in order to prevent honors freshmen from taking classes that juniors and seniors need.
“It’s something that we would never do without consulting our senate as well as the entire student body,” Motyl said. “We will not make any rash decisions just based on what we believe. We want to consult as many people as possible before making any hasty decisions.
Next, Clements introduced himself and some of the members of his party. He began by explaining why he picked some of his running mates. He stated that he picked Dustin Norcross, Vice President of Internal Affairs because he is outgoing and speaks to everybody. Megan Burr was chosen as the candidate for Vice President of Student Affairs because she has political experience. She is currently serving as the president of the Student Athletic Conference.
Clements explained that he tried to get a diverse group of students to members of his senate, including CAs, athletes, and students from a wide variety of majors. Some of the members in the party are already members of SGA this year, and some are new. Clements hope that these people will bring new ideas.
“The president and vice presidents should honestly be servants for the senators,” Clements explained. “The senators are the most important part of SGA. They’re the ones that do the work. They figure out what you need to do, they get it done, and build upon it. The e-board should be there to guide them and support them.”
As an Environmental Geoscience major, one of Clements’ main topics of discussion was sustainability. Clements stated that he is personally invested in making the campus green. He explained that the GGE club that he is involved with is already doing projects all over campus. One of these projects is using water runoff from the campus’ parking lots in order to create gardens.
Another concern for Clements is to improve the students’ view of the SGA. When he was looking for the signatures that we’re required to run for an SGA position, he was surprised to find almost 100 students who had no idea what SGA is. If he is elected to office, Clements hopes to inform students what the SGA is, and what it can do for students.
“I want all organizations to feel like they are a part of SGA,” Clements said. “I’m an athlete, we know that we’re involved. UPB knows that they’re involved. But you have smaller groups that don’t get involved, and there are students who don’t feel like they can come to us with their problems. I want to change that.”
Clements stated that he does have some graduate students running on his senate, including Jennifer Phillips. Because of this, he believes that they will be able to solve some of the common problems that he hears relating to them.
He also stated that Norcross has already started to work on ways to better the university’s ADA compliancy, and Vice President of Campus Outreach candidate Anthony Plumberg also has a lot of ideas in mind to better the Outreach program.
After both candidates finished their introductions, the debate moderator, Catie Clark, asked them questions. She asked them both to name one issue that they are adamant about, and what they plan to do about it.
“One issue that I’m adamant about is actually the way the old union is being put to use right now,” Motyl said. ”It is something that we just kind of forget about because we have this new beautiful student center. But we forget about the old union. What’s going on in there? That was a building that we paid for with our student fees. So one thing I’d like to do with that building is to take one of the older, bigger rooms upstairs and use them for student rooms. Let them put an art gallery up there so that way students don’t have to walk all the way across campus over to Maltby. Let them be a little bit more centralized in campus so that way they can do their studios here, have their art galleries, do their paintings here. And it actually creates a lot safer campus, as well, when you do that.”
“A big thing I’m going to push is sustainability on campus,” Clements stated. “President Norton has challenged the university to be carbon neutral by 2037, and the way I look at it from the environmental standpoint is that we’ve made some strides to become better, but we’re not going to make that goal. We need to keep pushing forward. We need to find better ways to get the campus to recycle, get the commuters to recycle, and just the community in general to do better things with sustainability.”
Clark then asked if there is anything that the current administration has failed at.
“Only one department I know of, the English department, has a master list of all of the classes that are only offered once a semester, or once every other semester,” Motyl said. “That is something that I would like to see from the secretaries of each department. Put out a master calendar so that way we can create better schedules to suit our needs. I mean, I have to drop a minor right now because a class is only offered once every other semester. Making things more well known around campus is one thing that the current administration has failed at.”
“The problem with AGA has not been solved yet,” Clements explained. “We started debating at the end of last year about them getting more prevalent on campus and getting their organization to grow. We formed a committee at the end of last year and into this year. We kind of got to a standpoint, and then we got nowhere. It wasn’t just a fail on administration, it is a fail on us as well. I’d like to see it go forward soon.”
The election will take place from April 1 – 3 and the winner will be announced April 4. Students will be able to vote by clicking on an e-mail sent by SGA.
Click here for video coverage of the SGA Presidential candidates.