For the first time in several years, the positions of President and Executive Vice President for SGA are being contested, and on Monday the candidates met in Spratt 214 to debate platform issues.
Current SGA VP Brad Stanton and Senator Haden McDonald debated against SGA Director of Communications Alec Guy and Senator Conner Samenus about their methods for making SGA more accessible and useful for the student body.
VP candidates McDonald and Samenus were the first to take to the podiums. The candidates were asked a series of questions by Griffon News editors.
McDonald started off by stating that they are running on a platform based on transparency, community and innovation.
He said the biggest change that he and Stanton would make would be allocating $86,000 to the Student Success Act in order to enhance Western’s technology, mentioning the campus’s old computers and poor WiFi connections.
Samenus said that he and Guy are also hoping to increase transparency and will do so by being proactive and seeking the opinions of the student body.
Both groups of candidates said they wish to make the university more inclusive for minority students.
Samenus said he and Guy had met with Gentlemen of Color, and had plans to meet with the Black Student Union in order to get an idea of what they could do to better represent them.
Stanton said that, while both parties had been in a picture taking a stand against discrimination, Guy had abstained from legislation that Stanton had proposed to stand against discrimination.
This caused a minor outburst from Samenus, who had it explained that the reason Guy had abstained was to further the discussion on the proposed bill.
While both candidates expressed similar goals, there was some hostility between them regarding leadership experience and methods of getting things done.
McDonald said the experience that he and Stanton have has already put them ahead of their opponents.
“They’re providing the ideas that Brad and I are already solving,” McDonald said. “By voting for them you’re not getting anything done, by voting for Brad and I you’re getting something done. Clearly we act on our ideas. They haven’t been able to prove that they’ve acted on a single idea that they’ve brought forward.”
Samenus thought the debate went well but said he wished that they would’ve focused more on the issues.
“It was nice to get a few points out there. It got a little hostile which I didn’t expect. I wish it hadn’t, because the main issue right now is the students, it doesn’t matter what’s going on between the candidates.”
When the presidential candidates took the floor, the questions became a little more intense. Both Guy and Stanton appeared unable to directly answer a question regarding an increase of roughly $50,000 over the 2008 fiscal year Executive budget.
Hostilities seemed to remain between the opposing presidential runners.
Guy believed that the disagreements were a good way to explore different points of view.
“There were definitely times of hostility where we kind of focused on each other more so than we [did] on the issues but I think that’s all very healthy. You kind of have to have these kind of different conflicting views in order to make progress and to consider different view points,” Guy said.
Stanton believed the “clashes” were caused by a difference in viewpoints on the issues.
“There’s a dissonance between somebody that wants to speak ideas and then somebody who wants to speak plans and goals, and I think Haden and I really want to speak our plans, speak our minds and speak our goals, and our opposition sometimes just spoke, you know, ethereal plans that don’t necessarily have a way to materialize.”
Current SGA President Ida Haefner said she isn’t endorsing any candidate, but thought they all did well during the debate.
“I’m really proud of my two e-board members with Brad and … Alec. They’ve done really well, definitely, putting out their opinions, and I think things, I mean, got a little heated at some points, but I think they did a really good job of keeping that camaraderie as well,” Haefner said.
The SGA elections will be held online and will begin on March 2 and end Wednesday, March 3 at 11:59 p.m.
Votes can be cast at www.missouriwestern.edu/sga.