Candidates for Student Government Association President:
Candidates for Student Government Association Vice President of Communications:
By Brandon Addeo | News Editor
Watch the full video of The Great Duquesne Debate here.
The night before the Feb. 21 Student Government Association (SGA) elections, The Duquesne Duke, Duquesne Student Television and the SGA hosted a debate for four candidates for SGA offices.
Two candidates for SGA President and two candidates for SGA Vice President of Communications took questions from a panel of Duke editors and from the audience gathered in the Africa Room Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. Candidates fielded questions on topics like diversity, transparency, smoking on campus and involvement in student government.
Fourth-year pharmacy major Olivia Erickson, of the MUST Party, and fourth-year health systems management major Zachary Galloway, of the Forward Party, debated against each other for the SGA presidency.
The candidates took a question on how they would improve campus safety in light of two accused sexual assaults at Duquesne this year, and a still-missing student, Dakota James. Galloway, who is president of the Delta Chi fraternity and current SGA Vice President of Academics, said student safety is “huge.”
“I think safety is one big thing that you don’t really understand until you’re in a situation where it comes into play,” he said.
Erickson, the current SGA communications chair and president of Duquesne’s chapter of the Kappa Psi pharmacy fraternity, pointed to a current ad hoc SGA chair for sexual violence as a jump-off for creating an SGA committee on sexual violence.
“It’s important to work with Duquesne Police, we’ve worked with Chief [Thomas] Hart in the past,” she said. “It’s important to develop that and push that opportunity to students and let them know the opportunities that are available to them.”
When asked what SGA programs could be cut or expanded, both agreed the SGA Loop Bus could be added onto and that the SGA could minimize spending within the organization. Galloway said the SGA should use more of its budget on advertising what the organization offers. Erickson said the SGA can allocate more of its budget for service grants for students so they can learn things “outside the classroom.”
Junior secondary education and history double major Maria Miller, of the MUST Party, and sophomore public relations and digital media arts major Gabriella Vaccaro, of the Forward Party, debated for the office of Vice President of Communications.
Both candidates agreed the SGA should make meeting minutes available to the student body and that the organization should help foster transparency through increased use of social media.
“I think transparency is very important,” Vaccaro said, “because students want to know what’s happening on campus, they want to have a say in what happens in their campus because it directly affects them.”
“I recognize as a student that a lot of students don’t know what SGA is and what we do,” Miller said. “And that’s a major problem, and it’s something we really need to fix.”
Students can vote in the SGA election today between 6 a.m. and midnight.