SGA presidential, vice presidential candidates engage in first debate

Student body presidential and vice presidential candidates debated the budget, relationships with international students, and community involvement during the first debate of the SGA election cycle Tuesday in Drinko Library’s atrium.

Incumbent student body president and vice president, Matt Jarvis and Emily Kinner, will face Alex Parlock, who is running for president, and his brother Daniel Parlock, who is running for vice presdient, in the upcoming election.

In a series of questions posed by election commissioner Sophia Mills, the candidates discussed topics ranging from Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed budget cuts to President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, an executive order that barred immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, which has since been overturned by a federal court.

Jarvis said after the ban was announced he and a team, including Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert, constructed a message in support of the university’s international students.

Jarvis and Kinner’s platform emphasized promoting diversity.

“We can’t be ignorant to the world around us,” Jarvis said. “This travel ban affected students.”

The Parlock brothers, however, said Jarvis’ administration has neglected international students, citing sources they spoke to from Marshall’s INTO program.

“Some of our supporters went to INTO today, and INTO feels like they have been pushed to the side by the current administration,” Daniel Parlock said. “They feel like they have been forgotten.”

Jarvis held that he has kept in contact at least weekly with international students, claiming that he meets with students personally as well as with the presidents of their organizations.

“I have been meeting personally with these students and with the presidents of their organizations almost weekly, and I have been doing stuff intentionally,” Jarvis said. “We have Unity Month coming up in April.”

While relationships with international students was an important topic in this debate, the fear of looming budget cuts and possible tuition spikes was also addressed.

Jarvis said in his role on the Board of Governors, he has strongly opposed any proposition for a tuition increase for students, after a 9 percent tuition increase has been suggested.

Daniel Parlock said the university needs to cut unnecessary spending.

“We need to find out where Marshall is wasting money and then cut off those things so we can use it for academics and other more important issues,” Daniel Parlock said.

Along with these budget cuts, the candidates were questioned about the necessity of student services such as the LGBT office and the Center for African American Students.

“Until [inequality] is a thing of the past, those offices are needed,” Jarvis said. “They need to be supported, they need to be loved, they need to have allies.”

Alex Parlock echoed Jarvis’ sentiment, and said that racism and homophobia are still an issue today.

“I believe it is necessary for the time being,” Alex Parlock said. “Hopefully one day it will dwindle out. But there are still patches of racism and homophobia throughout the community.”

Student involvement was another debated topic, with Jarvis and Kinner boasting record numbers in both student activities and student participation.

“In reality, the events that we’ve had, we’ve seen the most student participation in the past year, not only in size but in diversity,” Jarvis said.

The Parlocks, whose platform is heavily based on community involvement, said the current administration has failed in notifying students of these events. One thing Alex Parlock said he wants to see are digital message boards across campus, in order to get the word out to students.

Other questions included the role of the vice president. Kinner said she is a liaison between the senate and the executive branch. Daniel Parlock said the position should be of an advisory nature for the president.

The next debate will be Monday at noon in the Memorial Student Center lobby.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]