Two teams of SGA executive hopefuls faced off in a debate Thursday night in the Al Neuharth Media Center.
About 50 people attended the event, hosted by the Cross Media Council.
The debate started off with opening statements from each team, and both laid out their platforms.
The team of presidential candidate Sadie Swier and vice presidential candidate Lucas Lund have one guiding principle for their campaign – simplicity.
“We want to bring SGA back to basics,” Swier said. “We’d love to see USD back in the students’ hands. SGA is there for students.”
Their opponents, presidential candidate Teagan McNary and vice presidential candidate Josh Anderson, have a multi-pronged approach they hope to bring to student government.
“We’re running on a platform of three main pillars: involvement, improvement and inclusiveness,” McNary said. “We just want to strengthen the relationship that student government has with all students on campus and then the community as well.”
General Activity Fee
On the contentious matter of the recent General Activity Fee increase, McNary said she thought SGA could’ve done a better job of getting students involved in the process.
“There were forums that were held, but they weren’t very well-attended,” she said. “I think that falls back on SGA to remedy that. I think there maybe should’ve been another forum held. They should’ve held off the vote on the GAF maybe one more week, just so that they could have gotten a little more feedback from students.”
Lund said he thought every student’s voice was heard.
“Their voices was absolutely heard,” he said. “However, that discussion was one that was very complicated and not easy for any of us to navigate through. While I understand the frustrations of students, their voices were absolutely heard. Your concerns will absolutely be addressed in the future.”
After the debate, Swier said she and Lund handled themselves about as well as they could have.
“I think we were all a little anxious, this is something we’ve never done before, but I think it ended up being a lot more fun,” Swier said. “Everyone had great questions.”
Lund agreed, and said the team held its own.
“This is always a nerve-wracking thing to do, it’s not easy and no one is totally comfortable, but we held our own and I think we did a good job,” Lund said.
Junior Anna Madsen ran for vice president last year and said she knows how nervous candidates can be during debates.
“I was in the same spot last year and we lost, it’s a tough way to go but somebody has to lose,” she said. “I think it’s an important thing to remember that both teams are putting themselves out in front of their peers and it’s a hard thing to do. And I’m really proud of how both teams performed and presented themselves.”
McNary said she felt that she and Anderson projected themselves well in the debate.
“Everybody’s going to have things that they think they could’ve done differently, but I think we did a good job of portraying ourselves and being professional, which I think is important,” McNary said.
Anderson said he’s ready for the next debate.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to address some issues we didn’t get to hear,” Anderson said. “There were some here that wanted to ask questions and this will give us the opportunity to do that.”
First-year Sophia Lima, who attended the debate, said she was leaning toward voting McNary-Anderson after the debate.
“I thought it was really interesting to see what both campaigns had to say and expand on their platform a little bit,” she said. “I was a little disappointed by Lucas and Sadie and their targeting and degrading their competition. Teagan and Josh were focused on talking to students and what they wanted to do.”
One of the highlights of the evening was the closing remarks from Lund, which came after a friendly debate.
“I think our opposing team has three components that all start with the letter I and I think they like talking about themselves is what that demonstrates,” he said.
McNary said she didn’t think the comment was professional.
“He has the right to have his opinion, but I think it’s important to maintain that level of professionalism,” McNary said after the debate. “I hope that didn’t reflect poorly on us, I think it reflected poorly on them.”
Anderson echoed McNary’s sentiments.
“When we were coming into this, we were coming in with a professional mindset, that this would be a professional setting,” he said. “We were talking about what would be appropriate, inappropriate in this setting. In our opinion, a comment like that towards the end of the debate is inappropriate overall and it wasn’t something we wanted to do ourselves.”
This was first-year Bailey Zimmerman’s first time attending a debate and said it was interesting to watch.
“I’m running for SGA senate and it gave me great insight on who may or may not be the future president of SGA,” she said.
Zimmerman also said that the debate influenced her choice of who to vote for.
“I really loved Teagan and Josh,” she said.
The next debate will be held on Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the MUC pit lounge. The debate, hosted by SGA and the speech and debate team, will be a town-hall style debate and will focus primarily on questions from students.