Student Government Association candidates Josh Sorbe, with running mate Madison Green, debated against Marcus Ireland, with running mate Caleb Munce, on Thursday evening in a debate hosted by the Cross Media Council and Political Science League.
Both campaigns introduced their platforms and discussed issues such as student involvement, the General Activity Fee and how they will work with the next university president when Abbott retires.
Ireland and Munce began the debate by stressing the importance of connecting to the student body, which both candidates agreed SGA has failed to do.
“The problem is that SGA is failing to communicate to the students about what it does, what its jurisdiction is over and what sort of policies it wants to implement,” Munce said. “There are a variety of ways to change that, such as emailing the student body once a month about the policies and bills up for debate and changing meeting locations.”
SGA meetings are currently held in a private room on the second floor of the Muenster University Center, something Munce and Ireland aspire to change.
“There’s no reason to meet on the second floor of the MUC behind closed doors with literal glazed glass,” Munce said.
Sorbe and Green concurred the lack of student involvement in SGA is a serious issue.
“It’s all about making sure we’re connecting with the students, and when we do sit down with them, we are hearing their voice,” Green said. “The vice president and president’s job is so important in making sure we’re relaying information back to the Board of Regents and USD administration, making sure students voices aren’t pushed under the rug because we’re the representatives of the student body and we need to make sure student voices are heard.”
Sorbe said hosting student forums is vital in order to ensure that conversation is generating student interest in SGA.
General Activity Fee
The GAF is a fee students are charged for each credit hour they’re enrolled in. The GAF allocations fund student organizations such as athletics. A Twitter-submitted question involving GAF became a strong topic the two campaigns debated. Munce said last year’s GAF decision was never sent to a student vote.
“When the GAF got increased by nine dollars last year, 90 percent of that increase was going to athletics,” Munce said. “Around this time last year, 40 plus students came into SGA asking for them to have a debate that Josh Sorbe chose not to do.”
Sorbe said a student vote would have been a better solution than leaving the decision solely up to SGA senators.
“Putting GAF to a student vote was probably the right solution, but that’s history we can learn from and history that needs to continue going forward,” Sorbe said. “If adequate student feedback hasn’t been received, we will not vote pre-maturely on a resolution.”
Both campaigns presented solutions to help combat the issue of sexual assault by working with ICARE.
“The ICARE grant has a committee structure that’s really easy to mobilize students to get to, there is an advocacy committee that works with students who want to get involved with preventative measures,” Sorbe said. “Recreating the ad hoc committee through ICARE is key to educating students on sexual assault and prevention, which is extremely vital for SGA to deal with.”
Ireland said as SGA president, it’s important to be a resource in order to keep students involved in important programs like ICARE.
“We need to incentivize students for going to ICARE program events, so passing a resolution that gives students extra credit for attending events associated with sexual assault prevention is something SGA can do,” Ireland said.
The debate concluded with questions from the audience, which saw an attendance of over 80 students.
Although Sorbe and Ireland discussed their differences throughout the debate, both candidates believe in each other.
“Both our team and their team is 100 percent committed and going to a good job for USD,” Ireland said.
“In the event that Madison and I would be elected next Tuesday and Wednesday, I know a great candidate is sitting to my right,” Sorbe said.
Voting will take place on Feb. 27 and 28 for SGA president through myUSDPortal.