Story and photos by Toriana Williams / News Writer
The Student Government Association of Middle Tennessee State University held their Presidential and Vice Presidential debate on Wednesday evening.
The debate was held to help voters decide between candidates for SGA’s upcoming election from April 11 until April 14.
Vice Presidential candidates Logan Mcvey and Cameron Paschal were first up during the evening, and they each had two minutes for their opening statement.
Paschal, an aerospace major, has been involved in various organizations across campus. When asked how he would adapt his leadership abilities when trying to guide students, Paschal stated, “…finding a common ground between all members…is probably the best way to start.”
Mcvey, a history and political science student, responded to the question and said, “I’ve learned that a good leader is someone who is a facilitator.”
Both candidates expressed that making everyone feel welcome and having a conversation is the best way to lead and approach different types of personalities that they will surely meet if they were elected vice president.
When asked how they would share their opposing views on legislation with its sponsor, both candidates had a similar answer. “Having a conversation with students helps them refine their ideas,” said Mcvey. In order for their process to run as smoothly as possible, Mcvey believes that the Vice President should be allowed a certain degree of input on new legislation.
Paschal said, “Taking what they’ve brought to me and finding a way to move forward with it while taking parts of the legislation they’ve brought to me would probably be the best way forward.”
He continued, “[Also] working with them to write a different version of the bill and finding what they truly want to do with the bill and the legislation that they’ll want to try and pass.”
The two candidates continued to answer several more questions until the time came for their closing statements.
“Over the past three years, MTSU was not my first choice…But once I got here, I realized MTSU was home for me,” Paschal admitted.
Mcvey began his closing statement and said, “Much like [Paschal], MTSU has also become my home…I grew up here…and campus was always a big part of my life.”
The two thanked the audience for coming and sat down as the debate continued.
Jada Powell, Antonio Dodson and Ashton Beatty took to the stage as the three presidential candidates for SGA.
Dodson opened and said, “Coming back to campus after being away for so long, we rebuilt together this year, but we are far from finished.” He continued, “I have learned…that the hardest path…is the one that leads to the most learning and growth. That’s why I’m running today.”
Next to speak was Powell. “If I am elected to serve as the president of [SGA], I will increase and promote student engagement to improve the quality of student life at MTSU,” she said.
Beatty, the third and last candidate, shared, “I think the clubs here on campus are a really useful resource, and it’s allowed me to meet a much wider array of students than I would have otherwise…I would really like to purposefully meet with students, individuals and representatives to really get a better idea of what students want to know.”
For their first question of the evening, they were asked how they would accurately represent the needs of the entire student body.
The first to answer was Beatty, and he responded by saying that this was already an issue he’s had to face due to being in other clubs. “I feel like I’ve been able to learn a lot just by meeting different people. So in order to represent the student body, I feel like I would need to meet more people.”
Dodson replied, “That’s something I’ve been really passionate about this year.” He continued, “Another thing I’ve gotten to do was survey students. It’s one of the most important things that we can do as the [SGA] is to not just get our internal voice but to survey students all across campus.” Dodson surveyed over 300 students this year and would like to continue to expand to portray the student body’s opinions.
Powell ended the first round and said, “First, I would make sure that I’m reaching out to different clubs and organizations…I want to continue my connections that I have with everyone.”
Before the student Q&A section, the last question was how the candidates would approach building and maintaining amicable relationships with university administrators and other constituents.
Powell, “I think relationships are needed whenever you’re wanting to build your organization.” Reaching out and following up, sometimes not even in a business sense, would be how Powell achieved this. “The best way to establish and maintain those relationships is…just being able to communicate.”
After recounting a variety of organizations he’s worked with alongside campus, Dodson answered, “That’s one of the things I’m passionate about…I got to build and forge wonderful relationships in many departments.” He continued and said, “In general, I would say the most important attribute when working with administrators and anyone in a professional sense is humility.”
After the round of general questions ended, students had the chance for their questions to be answered by the candidates.
One student asked each candidate what they thought the biggest issues facing the student body were and how they would use the presidency to resolve these issues.
Dodson answered first and expressed that it was providing more programming that benefits the student body. “For too long we’ve had our senior leadership come from high internal positions who are used to working on internal affairs…It could be really beneficial for the student body to elect a student body president who has more experience on the front lines.” One of the biggest reasons he’s running is due to the fact he believes he holds that experience.
Powell began and stated, “The biggest issue that I’ve seen throughout my time at Middle Tennessee State University is once again student involvement and engagement…My freshman year, it was really lively. Campus life was a lot; it was like home. That’s something I really want to focus on and bring back.” To Powell, the biggest issue on campus is division. “Everyone is just within their own community…I want to be able to bring everyone together as one, so we can all enjoy college life as a big MTSU community.”
For his answer, Beatty stated, “I think there are a few issues that come to our mind, such as parking or a lack of student involvement. But I think a lot of our issues come down from state and local governments…We need to promote these hidden issues.” These hidden issues include getting polling booths on campus, fixing the broken bricks, ensuring the quality of the aerospace program and more instances that Beatty thought affected MTSU.
As the debate came to a close, the candidates moved on to their closing statements.
First to close was Dodson. “When I started this campaign, I called it ‘We Are One Campus’. We need to break the divide and remember that we’re on the same team.” Dodson continued and said that SGA was losing interest from students, that their executive was in a fragile transition period, that they needed fewer bills and more resolutions, less internal drama and more.
The second candidate, Powell, stated, “In order for someone to make a change, one must have a vision and endurance to advance and make progress within their communities…I am the right choice because I am reliable, have integrity, and am genuine, honest and transparent.”
Lastly, Beatty addressed the crowd and said, “I encourage you to take what you learned here tonight, and I really hope you tell your friends…I hope you tell more students to vote.”
Follow the candidates to keep up with their platform on Instagram.
Dodson – @rlyantonio
Powell – @jadakpowell
Beatty – @ashtonbeatty
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