SGA Debate sets goals for coming year

Sga debate_zachary weaver.jpg

Zachary Weaver
   News Editor

The SGA electoral debate was held on March 22, with SGA presidential and vice-presidential candidates discussing their policies and plans.

The two candidate teams were Colby Kirkman (Pres.) / Michaela Stovall (VP) and Holly Shields (Pres.) / Mikaela Portugal (VP).

Kirkman emphasized a focus on inter-campus unity, especially with A&T, stating a desire to “unite the city.”

Kirkman also cited his inter-department connections on-campus with organizations like Student Athletics and the Residence Hall Association, saying that he could better foster relationships between departments and the SGA.

Shields echoed her opponent, stating her background with the Association of Student Governments (ASG), citing her experience as preparation for making bonds between campuses.

Shields also stated a focus on breaking the four-year-graduation stigma on campus, saying that those who do not adhere to it come under more stress.

“This four years puts a lot of pressure on students because we often find ourselves not able to graduate on time,” Shields noted.

Kirkman stated a focus on building up students, aiming at increasing UNCG’s reputation. He stated that UNCG is viewed as a middle-tier school despite its relatively high tuition, which he hopes to address in his term.

“We are going to be fifth in tuition and fees in the NC system in the 2017-2018 school year,” Kirkman said, “so why are we not doing things to reward our students for paying that large amount of money?”

“I plan to work with the community to advance and elevate marketing off-campus… to create a [on-campus] culture of advancement,” Kirkman said.

Shields noted a lack of school pride, a view shared by Chancellor Franklin Gilliam. She stated that rebuilding this was a focus of her campaign.

Both candidates stated that they would build on the work of current SGA President Joseph Graham.

Kirkman stated that he would build connections with students, increasing their involvement with the SGA.

“We’ll let [students] know that the SGA is for students, by students,” Kirkman said.

Shields praised Graham for growing the SGA executive cabinet, saying that he pushed people in performance.

“One thing [Graham] has done great is motivating and pushing people to go out of their boundaries,” Shields said.

VP candidates Stovall and Portugal echoed their running mates’ platforms, generally agreeing on student involvement and building bridges between UNCG’s white and minority communities.

Portugal stated her wish for more structure in the SGA, aiming to bring together disparate committees.

“I just want comfort between the committees and more open conversation,” Portugal stated.

Portugal also stated her focus on building inclusivity on-campus, as well as unity among the student body. She stated that she would reach out to student groups and encourage collaboration between them and the SGA.

“It starts with… being role models in the community,” Portugal said. “and bringing back unity within the community.”

Portugal also advocated for a sustainability focus on-campus, building on top of work done by UNCGreen.

Stovall encouraged greater involvement between SGA student senators and UNCG’s student body. She hopes to accomplish this by encouraging senators to bring student concerns to the senate forum.

“I will push my senators to bring not just their concerns, but concerns of our students to our forums,” Stovall said.

Stovall advocated a team-based effort, uniting the SGA behind a strong executive platform.

“I will make sure they have the resources, the knowledge, and the connections to go out there and do what needs to be done,” Stovall said.

Stovall also hoped to advance SGA-student involvement by making senators aware of campus resources, thereby empowering them to reach out.

The online election form, sent via email on Thursday, March 23, will remain open until Thursday, March 30, and is open to all students.

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