Student Government Association executive candidates debated and discussed platforms on Tuesday night at the second annual Herald Town Hall, hosted by the College Heights Herald.
Presidential candidates Andi Dahmer, Kenan Mujkanovic and Lily Nellans were present to debate as well as executive vice presidential candidates Savannah Molyneaux and Brian Anderson.
Dahmer is running with Molyneaux on the same ticket, and Nellans is running with Anderson on the same ticket. However, students voting in the election are able to vote for candidates separately. Students can vote on TopNet April 17 and 18, and the winners will be announced after midnight on April 19 in the SGA chambers.
A full video of the debate is available on the Herald’s Facebook page.
Andi Dahmer and Savannah Molyneaux
Molyneaux began the debate by saying she and Dahmer felt the most important issue facing the student body at WKU was retention.
“While we do want to bring more students to WKU through recruitment efforts, we believe that WKU has been very successful in their recruitment efforts,” Molyneaux said. “And we hope to instead focus on retention, keeping those students that we bring here, here during the duration of their experience.”
Dahmer said she and Molyneaux wanted students to know about their “dependability.”
“We’re willing to undergo a large transition in the coming year from Dr. Ransdell’s presidency to Dr. Caboni’s,” Dahmer said. “And I think that based on our service in SGA for the past four semesters, we deeply understand what the senate has done, how senate works with [executive branch], and the Judicial Council.”
Dahmer also mentioned working with the Kentucky Board of Student Body Presidents and the Board of Regents as something she was prepared to do.
A question from Twitter asked the candidates how they planned to work with the Board of Regents, while making sure to still represent the student body.
Dahmer said she and Molyneaux would “listen to the student voice” and promote an “atmosphere of collaboration.”
“We need to approach the Board of Regents as a group with whom we can collaborate, until their ideas are against students’ best interests,” Dahmer said. “And if those ideas are against what’s in the best interest of the student body, then we are prepared to stand against those.”
Mujkanovic said the “rising cost of tuition” is one of the biggest issues WKU faces.
“I feel like our rising costs in the state of Kentucky is just absurd, and I believe I will do my best to fight against that,” Mujcanovik said.
Mujkanovic mentioned a tuition cap as a possible solution to the cost of attending college.
Mujkanovic said one of the main parts of his platform was to “increase involvement in our WKU students” and in students elected to SGA. Mujcanovik referenced a piece of SGA legislation that encourages SGA members to work at least one hour each week in the SGA offices.
“I believe also that we should implement that our senators should also dedicate at least one hour towards the community to better understand and represent you all and to better understand the issues you’re going through, by actually being involved and being in the community and seeing the issues up front,” Mujkanovic said. “Then being able to come back and form legislation that will benefit you and bring about positive change.”
Mujkanovic also said he wanted to promote more involvement in the community from all students at WKU.
When asked about working with the Board of Regents, Mujkanovic said he would be the “voice for all of our students.” Mujkanovic said that even if the Board of Regents disagrees with the student voice, “we should still stand together as a community and make our voice heard.”
“That is our sole responsibility, to let the people of this university know that we take up a big percentage of it, and a lot of stuff that goes on here impacts us a lot,” Mujkanovic said.
Lily Nellans and Brian Anderson
Nellans said her campaign would focus on helping marginalized students, improving treatment of minority students and improving student diversity.
“Our campaign believes that the biggest problem facing WKU right now is that the university largely only works for rich white students,” Nellans said.
Nellans cited “problematic policies” at WKU, including Honors College recruitment and housing and “ignoring violence” against minority students, as things that their campaign wanted to focus on resolving.
Anderson said the part of their campaign students should know about is their plan for changing parking ticket fees. Anderson said that every semester, students appeal their parking tickets before the appeals board.
“Too often we see students racking up hundreds of dollars on their parking ticket fees and it is ridiculous to believe that somebody wouldn’t be able to graduate or register for classes just because they had to park somewhere to get into a class on time,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he would like to see the option for students to do volunteer or service hours to pay off the ticket.
“That kind of policy is emblematic of the kind of administration we would have,” he said.
Nellans added that “high tuition and high fees” are “issues of economic justice” she and Anderson would be fighting against.
When asked about working with the Board of Regents, Nellans said she would be a “persuasive voice on the Board of Regents,” and would present “persuasive and well-reasoned arguments” about what was best for students.
“The Board of Regents is supposed to represent what’s best for this university, what’s best for its staff, students and faculty, and I think there are persuasive and convincing arguments for any conflict that would occur between myself and the Board of Regents,” Nellans said.
Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at (270) 745-0655 or [email protected]
An earlier version of this article referred to Kenan Mujkanovic as “Mujcanovik.” The correct spelling of the name is “Mujkanovic.” The Herald regrets this error.