Candidates spar but leave students dissatisfied

Candidates sank, sputtered and swam in the Favrot Student Union during the campus debates Tuesday. About 30 people attended. Many of those audience members included candidates and representatives of the Student Government Association. The most interesting responses came from presidential hopefuls.

Current SGA Vice President Steven Jackson stressed the importance of listening to the issues and representing the student population at state and national levels if necessary.

He also proposed the placement of communication screens with pertinent dates displayed in academic buildings so that students would know when the Rising Junior Exam is scheduled, in addition to when specific professors planned to cancel classes. He said that the screens were purchased two weeks ago.

The audience seemed receptive to this technology.

Dean-Julien Weatherly said he wanted to improve inter-personal relationships between American and international students. However, most of his solutions referenced Jackson’s previously stated solutions. Weatherly stressed a need to increase community service, specifically mentoring kids.

Christopher Hughes planned to draw crowds with treats much like candidates attempt to do as they campaign. He said that if he can have doughnuts and juice for potential voters, he could do the same to remind students of general assemblies.

Additionally he said he would address new members of SGA with consequences if they were found unproductive.

“If you do not work . you will not go to Bayou Classic,” he boomed.

The audience applauded.

Current SGA Chief-of-Staff Alonzo Blalock arrived 40 minutes late and explained that he had a class scheduled at the same time.

Blalock expressed a need for effective communication and a well-informed student body. He shared an understanding of transportation needs and reminded students that their dollars keep the university functioning. He told students that SGA is working to widen the SGA budget by six figures.

Three competitors sought the position of SGA secretary.

Kenesha Carter said she is qualified because she was a senate secretary. She emphasized an ability to follow the leader and “do what is necessary.”

Keysha Martin said she, too, had senate secretary experience and that she has done so for a year. She also stated that she had experience as a treasurer for the Society of Distinguished Black Women.

Le’Nel Goshen was absent.

Ernesia Hutchinson pursued the position of SGA treasurer. She stated that she was a more qualified candidate and computer information systems major. Hutchinson frequently stumbled in response to audience questions. At the end of the debate she sat, looking defeated, after a particularly drawn out response of exasperation.

Her competitor, DeAndrea Johnson was a no-show.

A few upperclassmen expressed post-debate concerns.

Senior political science major Janaya Scott said she would have liked to see more issues discussed.

“A lot of concerns weren’t addressed.”

She admitted the SGA could have done more to seek students’ input.

Senior accounting major Ryan Charles noticed the lack of preparation on the part of some candidates. He also believed that the “debate” could have been taken to the people, many of whom were still on the yard as the questions were addressed.

Charles suggested holding events in Tiger Xpress or on the yard to accommodate more students. He hoped that the right people would be elected and that campaigning would be “less of a publicity stunt.”

Senior political science and pre-law major Tracy Francis was “not satisfied . not satisfied with the treasurer’s answers.”

She said that many times peer politicians forget about their platforms once they are elected. She hoped for passion and follow-through from student leaders.

“Eat, live, sleep, breathe working on the platform,” she said.