SGA Candidates square off for first debate of campaign

Candidates for student body president and vice president had the opportunity to debate topics such as campus safety, diversity on campus and tuition increases Monday night when the first presidential debate took place in the memorial student center.

Candidates Marcus Tucker, Madison Davis, Hunter Barclay and Jerimiah Parlock faced off for the position of student body president. While Noelle Soares, Maddy Parker, Hannah Petracca and Rachel Delany faced off as their potential student body vice president.

Tom Jenkins and Sadie Helmick, editors from the Parthenon moderated the debate. The debate was also livestreamed on Facebook allowing audience members to ask questions as the debate continued.

The debate began with candidates getting an opportunity to discuss their platforms. Barclay and Petracca said they have four main goals including improving dining halls, getting local businesses to accept flex, a mental health day for students and a cap for textbook prices. Tucker and Soares said their main goals are safety, diversity and inclusion and acceptance. Davis and Parker said their main goals are accountability and transparency, disability awareness, community engagement and greek life initiatives. Parlock and Delany said they wanted to ensure safety, engagement and transparency amongst SGA.

The first question began with discussion on the topic of campus safety, a topic that has been on many students’ minds. All candidates agreed safety on campus is a top priority, making it a point to include it in their platforms.

As campus safety got brought up, the issue of allowing concealed carry on campus also was discussed. All candidates agreed in opposition of House Bill 4298 which would allow concealed carry weapons on campus, however student body presidential candidates Madison Davis and Jerimiah Parlock prefaced their statements with their support of the second amendment.

As audience members asked questions to the candidates, Barclay was asked about his goal to put a cap on textbook prices for students and his ability to get this accomplished. Parlock disagreed with the ability to put a cap on textbook prices. Parlock said although cheaper textbooks would be nice it’s not something that could be accomplished at Marshall.

“I think everyone would love cheaper textbooks and I think that is a great thing to put in your platform but at the same time the examples given, it’s state by state and what their issue is it’s bigger than that” Parlock said.

“This is at state level so it’s not just applying to one specific university, it’s applying to all the universities in the state” Parlock said.

Petracca came back with a rebuttal stating that Marshall could be the first university to start this in West Virginia. Petracca said Marshall could start a movement with a textbook cap.

“We are Marshall. If we’re going to lead something, we’re going to lead it” Petracca said. “Somebody has to stand and say let’s do it first so why shouldn’t Marshall stand up and do it first?” Petracca said.

Another topic that was brought up multiple times, was transparency between students and student government officials. All candidates agreed that student government needed to be more transparent with Barclay and Petracca stating that they understood this struggle students have, as they are the outsider team being the only candidates running with no experience in student government. However, all candidates made a point to include transparency in their platforms.

The next debate will take place Monday March 12 in the Shawkey dining room in the memorial student center.

Kyra Biscarner can be contacted at [email protected]\

Photos by Lilly Dyer | The Parthenon