SGA holds town hall in lieu of debate

Colleen Dulle

Because every candidate is running unopposed in this year’s SGA election, the Student Government Association replaced its annual debate with a town hall-style question and answer session.

Around 30 students and no faculty members attended the meeting April 5 at 12:30 in Miller 114. The executive candidates, both senators at large, one of the two College of Business candidates, and five of the ten College of Arts and Sciences candidates were present.

The moderators, SGA Chief Justice Bud Sheppard, economics senior, and The Maroon’s Opinion and Editorial Editor Gage Counts, economics sophomore, asked the senatorial candidates about their platforms. Sheppard focused mainly on issues that had been raised or may arise in the senate, while Counts asked candidates to explain their responses to The Maroon’s candidate survey, which included broader questions about the SGA’s role in the university.

When asked about SGA’s relationship with the administration, College of Arts and Sciences senatorial candidate Anna Smith, physics pre-health freshman, said, “I think reaching out to the administration would help. Obviously, they don’t see SGA as a strong leadership body on campus; there’s not any representation from them here, so just trying to integrate the administration into SGA a little better. Communication is key.”

The Senator at Large candidates discussed their current philosophies on improving Loyola for its students. Mass communication sophomores Kaylen Lee said she currently has two initiatives in the works: getting umbrella bags and stands on campus and involving commuter students more. Digital filmmaking freshman Justin Blackstone said he listens to students’ needs by involving himself in a wide range of activities.

Presidential candidate Ellie Diaz and vice presidential candidate Gabrielle Henry answered a series of questions from the moderators and the audience. Both candidates said they opposed the removal of the College President position and pointed out that their own views were less important to them than the concerns of the Loyola community.

“I’m not in this position to have a bias at all; I’m in this position to represent the student body whether I’m in these positions or not, or in those organizations or not, or have those opinions or not. I think what’s special about Gabby and I is that we’re both a part of two different backgrounds of the Loyola experience,” Diaz said, pointing out her involvement in Greek life and LUCAP and Henry’s in BSU and the volleyball team. Diaz said the two had not been friends before they decided to run together, but that their diversity promoted compromise.

Diaz said she hoped to echo this variety of backgrounds in her executive staff selections.

The town hall questions focused on heavy issues including the votes of confidence and no confidence in the Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., university president, and the constitutionality of the amendments up for vote in this election.

Diaz and Henry stated that they wanted SGA representation—themselves included—at university senate meetings and pointed out that they were not involved with the unconstitutional elimination of College Presidents, but that they would work with whatever happens and try to motivate students to run for the position next year if it exists.

Diaz focused on motivation in her closing statement as well, saying, “I think that if we present ourselves, as the people that are running, along with yourselves, as people that are motivating and that want to revamp the SGA and make it better, then how could people not want to get involved?”

Diaz said that she considers it a failure if her student government does not overcome student apathy.

Henry told the Maroon that she was excited to prepare for her position this summer: “I’m still learning, I’m ready to learn, I have all summer to learn, and I’m ready for the fall,” she said.

Diaz said she thought the debate was “a healthy experience” but was disappointed by the lack of candidate and non-SGA attendance.

Joseph Hyde, economics sophomore and non-traditional student, said he was impressed with Diaz and Henry but thought the senator candidates needed some improvement.

“I thought that the people running for the senate positions generally didn’t know what they were doing up there, and there was a lot of tap dancing and using buzzwords, but I expect that nobody knows what they’re doing until they get there—Eddie Van Halen didn’t know how to play a guitar when he first picked one up. Give them time,” Hyde said.

Voting opened at 2:00 p.m. April 5, just after the debate, and results were expected to be announced April 8 at 3:30 in the “Fishbowl” courtyard of the Danna Center.