Georgia State’s Student Government Association (SGA) Presidential debates took place on March 28. The night showcased three potential candidates to take the place of current SGA president, Fortune Onwuzuruike.
The candidates included Corey Gray–junior political science major aiming for Law School; Anthony Nguyen–current Communications Director for SGA; and Briana Stanley–Executive Vice President of Student Government on the Decatur Campus. The candidates were asked questions regarding everything from the campus merge, student engagement as well as student concerns .
The debate kicked off with a reminder of SGA’s Jan. 26 meeting, where the escorting of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) member, Asma Elhuni, out of a meeting concerning the purchase of Turner Field riled up student activists.
Candidate Nguyen provided his approach of how he would have handled that situation differently.
“Something that we should have done is allow her to speak because she’s a student and as student government we’re here to listen to our student body. We need to hold our administration accountable to our students, if they have a concern we need to listen,” Nguyen said.
On the topic of the challenges they have faced at Georgia State, candidates were asked to relate their own experiences with those issues and how they would relieve students of those same problems.
Stanley noted that the consolidation between Georgia State’s Atlanta and Perimeter campuses has led to a disconnect between the students on both campuses.
“Personally I am a Perimeter student and I’ve seen that [the consolidation] has shifted the entire dialogue between the Atlanta students as well as the Perimeter students. What I would like to do is bridge that gap and encourage more students to create an outreach with each other,” Stanley said.
Answering the same question, candidate Gray said that stress was the biggest issue that he’s faced attending Georgia State. Relieving students of stress happens to be a focal point in his platform as prospective president.
“In my platform we want to trump the stigma of mental health disorder and illness and I’ve had conversations with Dr. Jill Lee-Barber who is the director of the Testing and Counseling Center and in [those conversations] we discovered that the number one reason for the delay in [students] finishing school is stress,” Gray said.
Gray hopes to increase funding for Georgia State’s counseling and testing center to help students get the resources they need to go to school stress free.
Concerning campus safety, the moderators brought up the passing of the “Campus Carry” bill (HB 280) and asked the candidates how they would keep students educated on the bill and safe on campus.
“This year I’ve decided to pass the ‘Resolution to Oppose Campus Carry’ and the Student Government and I are writing a letter to [Gov. Nathan Deal] to let him know that we are against this. We need to work with GSUPD to make sure that they are well trained so that they know how to handle these concerns effectively,” Nguyen said.
Crowd members also offered up inquiries about Gray’s initiative about helping students with mental health issues, developments for a Community Benefits Agreement and student advocacy.
President Onwuzuruike and Executive Vice President of Atlanta, Shamari Southwell made an appearance to ask a few questions for the president’s potential replacements about getting more students involved with SGA.
“I’ve had the opportunity of working with all three of you guys and I would just like to commend all of you for your work,” Southwell said.