Three very distinct presidential candidates got the chance to share their different ideas and platforms at the Student Government Association’s debate on Tuesday night.
While the candidates all agree there is a need for increased publicity and a sober rides service should be brought back, the similarities seem to stop there.
Smithland junior Cory Dodds has two years of SGA experience and has worked on initiatives such as the off-campus housing website and transcript vouchers. Dodds wants to combine what previous presidents have done to better serve the student body.
Fort Knox senior Austin Wingate has three years of past experience in SGA but wasn’t in SGA this year due to his role as president of WKU’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Wingate said he decided to run because he felt there was a disconnect between the student body and SGA.
A relative newcomer to SGA, Versailles junior Corey Johnson joined SGA in the fall and decided to run for president, too, because he believes SGA needs to be “shaken up a little bit.”
An issue that came up repeatedly throughout the debate was outreach and the various ways that the candidates will reach students. In his platform, Dodds said he plans to form an outreach advisory committee, which will include representatives from various campus organizations.
“The current SGA senators, we all know what goes on — we know what services we offer,” Dodds said. “But the rest of the student body really has no clue.”
The idea sparked responses from Dodds’ opponents.
Wingate was in agreement with Dodds and said he liked the idea of having one representative from different organizations without excluding anyone.
Wingate also proposed reaching out to students on regional campuses through setting up a Skype system to allow long-distance participation during SGA meetings.
Johnson, however, said he feels that the senate itself is elected to speak for the students and that an outside committee is not necessary. Instead, Johnson said he wanted to focus on publicity, whether it’s through the media or getting the SGA logo in the public eye.
“When students don’t know what we’re doing, we can’t expect them to care about what we’re doing,” Johnson said.
The importance of reaching non-Greek students was also highlighted because so many members of the senate are Greek members. Of the presidential candidates, two belong to Greek organizations — Johnson and Wingate.
“We should push and publicize among other students groups, other non-grouped members of the student body, to want to be involved in senate,” Johnson said.
Wingate said there are so many Greeks in the senate because SGA senators go back to their fraternities and sororities and tell them about SGA.
“It’s the non-Greeks in the senate that just sit in their seats on Tuesdays at 5 o’clock in the SGA office, vote and go and leave — they don’t tell anybody,” Wingate said.
Wingate also said that SGA has to publicize at events where non-Greeks will be in attendance.
Dodds, the only non-Greek candidate, acknowledged the importance that Greek life plays on WKU’s campus but pointed that over the past several months he has already been reaching out. Most recently, Dodds spoke to the Gatton Academy about how they can take part in SGA.