Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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SGA Presidential Candidates Face Off in Debate

The+candidates+for+student+body+president+and+vice+president+pose+for+a+photo+before+the+debate.+L-R%3A+Brea+Belville%2C+Conner+Waller%2C+Luke+Jeffery%2C+Nico+Raffinengo.
Abigail Cutlip
The candidates for student body president and vice president pose for a photo before the debate. L-R: Brea Belville, Conner Waller, Luke Jeffery, Nico Raffinengo.

This year’s Student Government Association Debate featured candidates whose campaigns focused on student wellness.

Marshall University held the 2024 Student Government Association Debate on Monday, April 1. The debate was hosted and broadcasted by the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

The candidates – presidential candidate Brea Belville and her vice presidential candidate Conner Waller and presidential candidate Nico Raffinengo and his vice presidential candidate Luke Jeffrey – debated across podiums on various issues presented by the hosts and their prospective student bodies.

Belville and Waller’s campaign focuses on the ideas of innovating, elevating and advocating for students. Their platform aims to improve the mental and physical health of students as well as campus safety.

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The campaign highlights various organizations that focus on the wellness of campus and a noticed disconnect with the mission of wellness. The goal is to charter what exactly the goal of wellness is.

With the campus carry act going into effect July 1, both tickets explained how they would tackle the new legislation if elected.

The Belville campaign said they recognize the concern amongst both students and administration. While there are different policies already in the works, they will push for training sessions that would differ from the courses offered.

“We understand that many students are quite concerned with their safety,” Waller said. “We have decided to push for student self defense trainings that would be offered on a small scale basis.”

The Raffinengo campaign detailed their plans, saying they believe the best way to counter the issue is by listening to university officials about what policies they are pushing. Raffinengo said his administration will listen and work to create the best policies to counter campus carry.

“Guns on campus just do not belong here,” Raffinengo said. “It’s nothing we can do because the legislature didn’t want to listen to the student interest. We can be proactive about it, but it has a lot of contingencies because of the legislation.”

Raffinengo and Jeffrey’s campaign focuses on nutrition through their slogan of “Nourishing Leadership.”    The “nourishing” aspect of their platform aims at improving student meal plans and setting up business deals through Sodexo to expand dining options to local businesses.

The platform’s efforts will also focus on improving the campus dining options. Jeffrey said the “leadership” aspect of their platform is reflected in their cabinet, and their 15-member cabinet will have the freedom to innovate in the areas they care about the most.

Both campaigns said their biggest strength is their diverse cabinets.

Belville said she found a lot of strength in her cabinet. She said having a cabinet that is diverse in thoughts, beliefs and lifestyles would provide better insight into the student body.

“Our cabinet is representative of many different people and students and backgrounds on this campus,” Belville said.

 Jeffrey said their cabinet is what will allow their platform to be representative of the Marshall student body.

“No single individual, or collective group of people can actually be qualified to represent the entire student body because it is so diverse,” Jeffrey said.

The Belville ticket will focus on improving relations between the student body and SGA. She said they are always willing to talk to students about ideas and improve the open-door policy with the SGA lounge, making it easier for students to know where and when SGA members can be found.

The Raffinengo ticket has been working with student organizations to better push what they say students want: raising the student presence at events.

They also aim to take a more active role in involving SGA with the general student body. Jeffrey said while the SGA lounge is a nice space, members should be more involved outside amongst the local community. 

The Belville ticket plans to create an international charter similar to other universities to improve student wellness, by consolidating resources, so they can better support students. Belville said she wants to move to the “Live Safe” app, which has been proven by other universities to be more helpful than the current system Marshall uses. 

The Raffinengo ticket believes their goal is timely due to the push for the innovation district. Because of the growing district, Raffinengo believes Marshall’s administration would be supportive of his goals. He said if his primary goal does not go through, he hopes to at least find ways to create better meal plans for commuter students.

Voting for the student body candidates begins on April 2 at 8 a.m. and ends on April 3 at 2 p.m. The winning ticket will be announced April 3 at 4 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center lobby. 

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