Student Body candidates engage in first debate


Ryan Fischer

Student Body President and Vice President candidates debate Tuesday evening in the Don Morris room.

The audience asked presidential and vice presidential candidates difficult questions about last month’s failed RFRA resolution and the university’s financial troubles during Tuesday night’s student body election debate.

Candidates Matt Jarvis, Nate Miklas and Leif Olson faced off for the student body president office, while Emily Kinner, Amos Parlock and Collin Stipetich debated as their potential vice presidents.

Student Government Association advisors Matt James and Michelle Barbour and SGA Vice President Isabelle Rogner moderated the debate. James encouraged the audience to answer questions and said their intention was a “student-led debate.”

The debate opened with the candidates introducing themselves and their campaigns. Jarvis and Kinner said their goal is to make the campus and community a better place. Olson and Stipetich said less than 30 percent of student organizations apply for and receive funding and promised to change this. Miklas and Parlock said they were part of the election last year and weren’t huge fans with how it was conducted.

Last month’s failed resolution to condemn the West Virginia legislature’s Religious Freedom was a matter of contention between those debating. Current SGA members Jarvis and Kinner were asked how they voted while Miklas, Parlock, Olson and Stipetich were asked how they would have voted had they been in SGA at the time.

Jarvis said he and Kinner have been able to see the good and bad within SGA as members of the organizations. Jarvis also said issues with the resolution along with the mood and environment of the senate meeting in question persuaded him to abstain from voting.

“I did abstain,” Jarvis said. “I thought that it was kind of a poorly ran conversation. A bill should not be able to pass through legislation like that. We should be able to actually formulate our discussions and people should be able to give their own opinions without fear of intimidation or retaliation.”

Olson was asked how he planned to work with SGA members after he spoke out against the senate’s decision in the meeting following the failed RFRA resolution.

“As SGA senators, you are supposed to be representing your college and if you can not do that, well perhaps you should reconsider what you’re doing in the organization,” Olson said. “I understand that it may be hard to work with me because of this, but I care a lot about students,”

Financial problems at the university were another matter of concern the audience presented to the candidates. The candidates were asked what they would say to students currently in programs at the university that are going to be dissolved and how they would resolve such issues.

“There is a budget cuts committee currently in SGA,” Olson said. “Let’s talk about ways that we could possibly come up and recoup the funds that we need to keep our programs here.”

Jarvis agreed and said he has friends who are being affected by these cuts.

“My friends are in those programs and I know they’re personally being affected by this,” Jarvis said. “We do have to show the university and the administration that there is a need for that program.”

Parlock disagreed and said there’s a reason these programs are being cut.

“They’re not getting cut without a reason,” Parlock said. “There’s obviously nothing to do about it, otherwise they wouldn’t get cut.”

The moderators allowed the candidates to make brief closing remarks. Jarvis said he wants to encourage the student body to be prideful in attending the university. Miklas said he wants to work towards attainable goals and giving back to Marshall and the Huntington community with community service activities. Olson said SGA needs to be more focused on supporting its fellow students.

Jared Casto can be contacted at [email protected].