VIDEO: SGA presidential candidates discuss issues, platforms at first debate
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VIDEO: SGA presidential candidates discuss issues, platforms at first debate

Student safety, diversity and sustainability were just a few of the issues discussed at the Cross Media Council-sponsored Student Government Association Presidential Debate on Thursday night.

“I think the night went really well,” said vice presidential candidate Anna Madsen. “It was really fun and there were very good questions from the audience.”

Around 50 people attended the debate.

The debate started with an opening statement from presidential candidate Nathaniel Steinlicht and his running mate Michelle Novak. They have a 3-C campaign, which focuses on campus, community and communication.

The opening statement of presidential candidate Cameron Frentress and Madsen, his running-mate, centered on student safety, student experience and student outreach.

When questions were opened up to audience members, graduate student Alexis Oskolkoff took to the microphone. Oskolkoff asked the candidates if they had any plans to allocate more money to graduate student programs.

“The reason I asked that is because I was looking at my bill and I noticed that as a full-time grad student I am paying $390.60 for a general activities fee. Which is fine and I don’t mind paying that, but I was looking at all of the things our money went to,” Oskolkoff said. “It was upsetting because I don’t use a lot of the things this money is going (toward). We have 66 graduate programs and only two programs are being funded.”

Oskolkoff said she was an SGA senator in 2013. She hopes to run again in the future.

“If there are any at-large seats I hope to be running. If not I would be more than happy to work with the new executive (team),” Oskolkoff said.

Sophomore Jack Seitz also posed a question to the candidates. Seitz asked why students should care about who wins the election and why they should vote.

“Overall this generation has the hardest time getting involved in politics. So it makes sense that for student government it would be way harder,” Seitz said. “I talked to my political science teacher and he told me that if they can’t tell my why I should care then there is no reason for me to have any interest.”

Madsen and Novak both answered his question.

“You should care because if you want to make a difference and you want to make your experience better, that’s what SGA is here for and we’re here to represent the students and to represent their concerns,” Madsen said.

Novak said students should cared because contrary to what some students think about SGA Senators, people who run for office really do want to improve the lives of students on campus.

“SGA goes out and wants to help the students, some people might feel the people on SGA are doing this to build their resume but from the people I’ve meet through SGA we really want to go out and just to the best for the students here at USD,” she said.

Students will hit the polls on March 2 and 3. Both candidates said they had a great time debating important, on-campus issues.

“Students are a wild card and to hear their input and what they think was great,” Steinlicht said.

Thursday night’s debate is the first of two debates that candidates will take part in. The second debate, sponsored by the SGA and hosted by the Political Science League and the Rushmore Public Policy Institute, will take place Monday evening in the Muenster University Center Pit Lounge.