Candidates are running on the same ticket for the first time in races for Student Government Association executive president and vice president.
Four candidates are running with partners: Julia Kennedy for president with Madeline Dayton for vice president, and Ty Kelley for president with Rachel Jones for vice president. Adam Andrade, a senior political science major from San Antonio, is running alone for president.
About 35 students attended SGA debates Wednesday night. The candidates presented their platforms and previous leadership experiences and answered questions from the audience.
Kennedy, current executive vice president and a junior English major from Lubbock, and Dayton, junior global studies major from Katy, list connectedness, care, community and change as their campaign platforms. Dayton served in Congress as a freshman and sophomore.
Kelley, SGA communications officer and junior information technology major from San Antonio, and Jones, junior class president and a communications major from San Antonio, list campus unity, minority representation and enhancing student life as their campaign platforms.
Kelley, Jones, Dayton and Kennedy all have had multiple students endorse them on their campaign Instagrams.
Andrade, senior class president and a political science and management major from Fort Worth, said although he is running alone, he feels confident about his ability to work with whichever vice presidential candidate gets elected.
“We should be able to compromise, we have to work as leaders to meet each other halfway and if we can’t do that, how are we expecting to run the student body,” Andrade said.
Andrade said he will be a fifth-year senior next year because he is double majoring.
Here’s what each candidate said when asked during the debates what practical ways they will improve campus:
- Kennedy said she would encourage self-care, mental health awareness and recycling. “We have to continue to speak about the things that are hard to speak about,” Kennedy said. “We are at a mainly white school, and I don’t think people talk about that very often and that needs to be discussed.”
- Dayton said she would encourage discussion about “taboo” topics like sexual assault awareness, mental health awareness and minority representation. She said to do this practically she would have regular SGA events with the Medical Counseling and Care Clinic and would encourage work-study and mentorships with multicultural groups. “We need to be doing mandatory Title IX training for every organization including social clubs so that they’re mandatory reporters.”
- Kelley said he would address the discussions about LGBT issues on campus. He said he would work on improving communication between the student body and the administration. He said he worked on the SA task force that surveyed the student body last year. “We got student feedback and the administration somewhat blatantly disregarded that information and made a decision without confronting students first,” Kelley said.
- Jones said she would work on bringing a dog park to campus, extending library hours, and getting the university to sponsor more intern housing for students in other cities. She also said she and Kelley will work to include freshmen more in tailgates and Homecoming. “I don’t want you to misinterpret these fun things as flippant,” Jones said. “We truly care, and there are bigger problems that we want to be working on as well.”
- Andrade said he would focus first on getting a strong Congress. He said the current representatives don’t understand how to write bills or Robert’s Rules of Order. “We need to fix Congress in house before we can fix anybody else,” Andrade said.
Jake Buller, junior English and biblical text major from Hesston, Kansas, said he has attended the debates every year and thought the debate this year was better than last year. He also said having candidates run on the same ticket allowed them to collaborate on their platforms.
“It’s hard to tell what the wider student body thinks about it because there weren’t very many people here,” Buller said. “It’s a matter of who knows who, and who’s heard about who. I think all of the candidates were really well-qualified.”
The candidates will give speeches in Cullen Auditorium during Chapel Thursday. Voting will open immediately after Chapel and will close at 5 p.m.Friday. Elections chair Kevin Shurtz said the winning candidates must receive more than 50 percent of the votes, so there could be a runoff for president if no candidate gets the majority of the votes. The runoff will take place Monday if needed.
An amendment passed by the student body last month changed the SGA constitution to allow candidates to run on the same ticket. The amendment also changed the executive treasurer position from an elected position to an appointed one. That means the next president and vice president will appoint the treasurer along with the other executive cabinet positions.
Students will be able to vote for the candidates individually, but the ballot will show which candidates are running on the same ticket.
“It gives students the flexibility to both see a vision and mission that a president and vice president can work together,” said executive president Danny Burke.
Burke said the primary role of the vice president is to manage Student Congress and run Congress meetings. The primary role of the president, he said, is to set a vision and manage the executive cabinet.