The first and only debate between Student Government President and Vice President took place on March 29. The debate was live-streamed and broadcasted on WMUL radio and allowed the campaigns to lay out their platforms directly.
Cameron Donohue for President and Mary Doherty for Vice President — Alyssa Parks for President and Isabella Griffiths for Vice President — make up the two tickets running.
The Parks campaign sees its experience working in the current Williams and Powers administration as a critical factor in their preparedness for the positions as well as their ability to create a team with a wide net of experience and representation across campus.
“We can’t represent every organization on campus; there are 300+ organizations on campus, it would be impossible to do that. So we created this team to represent this diverse range of organizations on campus,” Parks said.
Parks said later on that the act of reaching out to these different organizations has helped various groups of students feel heard, in line with their slogan “BeHerd.”
Donohue views his experiences with Greek life (as IFC President) and his position as an SGA Senator as a way he has kept his ear to the ground on the issues that matter most to students. In an interview with The Parthenon last week, Donohue said: “ We don’t have tens of thousands of students, we aren’t WVU or Ohio State, we have roughly 10,000… that’s still a lot of people, but it’s much more manageable.”
Even though Doherty has not had any previous experience in student government, both Donahue and Doherty view their experience as involved students as an advantage for preparing them for their respective positions.
Doherty said her experience trying to get into student government was “daunting” at first, but she hopes to create a more transparent environment for student government and students who are not involved or wish to be more involved.
At times, the debate went back and forth on why each ticket is more passionate about the university — without discussing any policy initiatives. However, after the format change over halfway through, each ticket had the opportunity to go into specific policy proposals. Doherty suggested expanding the meal exchange program and providing reusable water bottles to students — to be more sustainable — as some ideas apart of their overall platform goals.
In the second half of the debate, each ticket took the role of moderators, asking questions — in an effort to poke holes in the platforms of their opponents. Parks questioned some aspects of the Doherty platform, specifically their desire to change to eco-friendly grass across campus and the cost associated with achieving this goal.
Donohue asked Parks and Griffiths about their specific plans to increase communication between students, organizations and SGA. Griffiths spoke about her initiative to do community service projects during the pandemic.
Griffiths said it’s as simple as communicating directly with students and organizations effectively. Parks mentioned her desire to see a community service database where projects could be better marketed.
“I think that and the fact that we know our platform inside and out really helped us calm our nerves and feel confident in our ability to answer any question. Our goal is for the student body to know we are listening and are passionate about bettering Marshall University, and we felt that we were able to get that point across through our answers and discussing our platform,” Parks said after the debate.
“We believe the communication between our ticket and the Parks/Griffiths ticket was productive with good points on both sides. There is no doubt in our minds that Marshall will be in good hands no matter who wins the election,” Doherty said.
Except for Doherty, each candidate is running for a senate seat in their respective college. Parks and Griffiths hope to be the second all-female ticket in Marshall SGA history.
Voting begins on March 31 and continues through April 1.
Tyler Spence can be contacted at [email protected]