On April 4, the Student Government Association held a debate to delve deeper into the true values, goals and abilities of the candidates running for the 2016-2017 SGA Executive Board.
This year is an anomaly in comparison to previous elections. There are 13 candidates with four full tickets and one candidate running alone.
The questions asked tackled different topics, including minority inclusion within SGA, future legislation, personal motivations and passions and conflict resolution.
To open, the question of what motivates the secretarial candidates was posed by debate moderator Susan Epps.
“I think now it is more important than ever before for students to have their voices heard,” Emily Marmon answered.
Meredith Bell then said, “I feel that my eagerness to serve the student body if given the opportunity is my motivation.”
Vice presidential candidates were then asked to state their best leadership quality and how that would benefit them if they were elected into office.
“I know many of these students,” Greyson Jennings answered.
“ETSU has opened so many doors for me, and my gratitude for that makes me want to open doors for others.”
Chase Coleman said, “I have worked with many organizations at ETSU, and I feel that that connection has helped me grow as a leader. I have learned different perspectives from different students all over campus.”
Sam Arnold then responded, “I have held leadership roles in the past. I’ve been successful in my endeavors, so I believe that experience is important to carry out this role.”
One question directed at the secretarial candidates was how they intended to resolve conflict between members of SGA.
In response to this topic, the canddiates responded unanimously by placing an emphasis on respect.
Emma Stewart stated, “Conflict is inevitable, but listening and learning from each other in a respectful manner is crucial.”
Dustin Gilmer answered, “Conflict brings perspective. I want to help the diversity that stems from that perspective to be brought forward.”
When presidential candidates were asked about their passions and how those passions played into their ability to lead, Ryan Baird, current vice president, answered, “I am passionate about the students at ETSU. They make me want to get out and serve them.”
Martin Tompkins said, “My passion is for the diversity of our student body.”
One topic directed toward vice presidential candidates that received applause from the audience was in reference to how SGA will increase its involvement with students not directly involved in SGA.
In response, Sen. Brandon Johnson said, “SGA has lost their accountability.
“We need to place a focus on outreach and hold each other accountable for that outreach.”
Nathan Farnor then answered, “Our committees are broken, and the individuals aren’t passionate about their committee. We need to bring in people who are passionate so we can bring in the best skills from the outside.”
To close the debate, the presidential candidates were asked what their main goal was and what legacy they planned to leave behind.
Pooja Shah, current attorney general, stated, “I want to leave students feeling safe and empowered. I want students to fall in love with ETSU the way I have.”
Will Ellis responded, “I’m not running for president to leave a legacy. This position isn’t about glory. I represent honor and integrity. I want to help our students.”