SGA debate allows candidates to address student concerns

Senate and community members questioned policy and received answers at the 2019 Student Government Association Debate for presidential and vice presidential candidates Wednesday, March 13. Both tickets said they appreciated students coming to the event and watching the live-stream and encouraged students to vote March 19-20, and they said they want the experience to be fun for the students.

“I want this to be a fun experience. I don’t want this to be a political experience,” Jeremiah Parlock, presidential candidate, said. “This is supposed to be a student run thing, and Marshall is fun and that’s what we need to make it in this election coming up.”

Presidential candidate Stephanie Rogner also said that she was glad the live debate gave students a chance to participate and voice their concerns while also having an opportunity to fully understand the candidates’ platforms.

“I think it’s the best way to get students to understand what we’re working on and trying to put forth effort and knowing what our platforms are,” Rogner said.

Some of the questions for the Rogner-Williams campaign included concerns of how the pair expected to expand services and resources for students, like their plans to expand the Counseling Center and build another parking garage, without requiring higher tuition from students.

Rogner stated that while some people have questioned if their plan to have a tuition cap would be doable, they have already spoken to administration about how it can be done.

“We have talked to the vice president of operations and she said, ‘Yes (it) is completely feasible, it just takes the mobility of the students,’ and we have reached out to senators as well to see what steps we can take so that tuition does not increase,” Rogner said. “We understand that there are going to be problems that come up and increases that come up but our strategy is that we don’t want those prices to relate to student tickets.”

Anna Williams, the vice-presidential candidate running with Rogner, also explained their platform plans to utilize money that Marshall University has access to but has not yet used.

“I think equally it’s important to remember that the main focus of our platforms are already grant funded,” Williams said. “We already have a cap budget, we already have a mental health grant on this campus, so what we’re starting out with isn’t coming out of tuition fees.”

Many of the questions for the Parlock-Kirk ticket related to bettering communication within the community, including how the team planned to create a better relationship between SGA members and the executive board and how their new mentor program, a volunteer-based program where students can receive guidance from Marshall professors without going to the Counseling Center, would differ from adviser-advisee relationships.

Caitlin Kirk, the vice-presidential candidate running with Parlock, said the focus of their campaign is providing what the students want and need and encouraging communication between Marshall students and faculty.
“The students’ opinions and concerns will be put before anything that we have already planned or any ideas we have,” Kirk said. “Comparing (the professor mentor program) to the adviser-advisee relationship, it wouldn’t just be that, it would about their life. If they need help or guidance and maybe if they need help in other areas that don’t have to do with school or family.”

Parlock continued by stating their cabinet consisted of members that would help ensure communication between students and SGA members, which is part of the purpose of their plan to have a leadership symposium, that would provide organization leaders to gather and discuss how to make these programs better for the students.

“We’re trying to get (a program) implemented to where students have an actual event to say what they want to our administration, and that would be hosted by each different cabinet member and their availability,” Parlock said.

The event concluded by allowing the candidates to give closing statements. The candidates all expressed their gratitude toward students who attended the event or watched online and said they are excited to see the results in the near future.

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected].