SGA presidential candidates go head-to-head in virtual debate


Photo credit: Maria Paula Marino

Madeline Taliancich

Tuesday during the window, Olufemi Adegoke, SGA’s commissioner of elections, posed questions to three prospective SGA presidential candidates, Christian Martinez, Robert Morrison III and Deon Wilson.

SGA hosted its presidential debate via Zoom. Questions were pre-written as well as sent in by Loyola’s student body, each of which candidates had three minutes to answer.

Adegoke began the debate by directing a question to the youngest of the three candidates, finance freshman Martinez, asking how he plans on acting as a liaison between the university president and the student body.

“I’m here to listen to you,” Martinez said.

Throughout the debate, he reiterated that he feels it’s important to listen to the student body.

Morrison, a finance sophomore, said he’s already had the pleasure of speaking with University President Tania Tetlow and has connections with students and upper administration because of his involvement in other organizations. As president, he said he hopes to help students discuss the issues they have on campus with Tetlow.

“These connections that I’ve already formed will lead me into having these relationships in the future,” he said.

Wilson, a sociology and Latin American studies junior, also stressed her current relationship with upper administration as UPB’s director of programming. She also said her years of programming experience on campus are a unique asset for her as a presidential candidate.

“You’re going to need a president who can adapt to these situations and, personally, I think a president with a grand amount of programming experience is what we need next,” she said. Wilson said she feels the experiences of COVID make it essential that the SGA administration reach out to students with more social events in the future.

Martinez defended himself against criticisms during the debate, saying that since his interview with The Maroon earlier this month, he and his running mate have spoken more to Sodexo about the possibility of replacing Deaux with another dining option.

Adegoke asked him about his previous comments to The Maroon about increasing diversity within SGA, particularly his previous statement that: “I don’t care if you are White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, or half-squirrel.”

“My words were not proper but were well-intended,” Martinez said.

To this, Wilson stated the importance of implementing PAWS and Reflect diversity and inclusion training with students, faculty and staff

Throughout the debate, the three candidates emphasized their campaign platforms.

Morrison continued to enforce some of his main campaign promises including free textbooks, but spoke often on the importance of SGA transparency. He said he hopes to further develop the SGA website to give the student body a means of knowing exactly what the president and vice president are doing as well as where the budget is going.

Wilson said the SGA website already exists to a degree, but requires some uplift for it to provide the SGA transparency she wants as president.

Martinez said he wants to better market the SGA website to students through the use of social media ads and HowlConnect, noting that many incoming freshmen don’t know much about SGA.

When asked about student safety on campus in the wake of recent hate crimes in Atlanta, Morrison said it is important that the school talks about these issues and ensures that students are aware of them as well. He said it is important to press the university for actual change.

Wilson said she often sees students providing other students with resources, but wants to focus on ways the university can support students and provide protections for students who commonly face hate crimes in the world.

“Quite frankly, we need to hold the university accountable. We need to say, ‘Hey Loyola, we need to make this happen and we need to make this happen now,” Wilson said.

The candidates also discussed their perspectives in choosing running mates.

Martinez said Aidan Gibson is always willing to listen and help, even if he doesn’t know someone.

“He’s an extremely kind and caring person. I respect that most about him,” he said.

Morrison said that he and Angelyss Vasquez met through the Multicultural Leadership Council and immediately worked well together.

“She’s a person who’s always looking at every side of every situation. She’s a fantastic human being,” he said.

Wilson spoke of her running mate, Tyler Sanchez, throughout the debate, noting his involvement in SGA and the work the two are already putting toward making some of their campaign promises happen. She said Sanchez isn’t afraid to step on someone’s toes to get things done and is even willing to challenge her to make a difference.

“Tyler has a passion for SGA. He has a passion for Loyola. I wanted someone who reflected that,” she said.

Adegoke also asked each candidate to indicate the role of SGA president in one word. Candidates left listeners with three different interpretations.

“Serve,” Morrison said.

“Integrity,” Martinez said.

“Listening,” Wilson said.