Analysis: Student Government Presidential Candidates policies

It’s Student Government Association election season, and that means a new wave of policies. There are some good policies and some bad policies. There are policies that could work and policies that are fever dreams. But, sometimes, it’s hard to see where each policy stands on the scale.

Here’s my take on it: As a former member of SGA, I have had success and failures, and I know which policies are likely to see implementation and which will never see the light of day. I will be using a five-star rating system, with one-star being the least likely and five-stars being extremely possible.

Presidential Candidates

Kaelen Thomas

  1. Increase the number of on-campus jobs

Rating: 2/5

    1. This is a policy that should be a relatively interesting project to accomplish, especially with a collaboration with Career Services and other university departments. However, some hurdles that must be overcome include the work-study funding and other financial issues. Earlier this semester, The Signal reported that student employees often don’t receive enough hours due to federal and fiscal constraints.
  1. Amend the fee allocation process for student clubs and organizations 

Rating: 2.5/5

    1. This is exactly the job of the university-wide president. They should be ensuring the right organizations are receiving the funds they need. But will the university allow him to do something like that? That will come down to how much the University Senate respects the policy proposal. Often times fee allocation is rarely changed, maybe this year will be different
  1. Finish SGA’s current initiative to provide free feminine hygiene products for women across all campuses

Rating: 5/5

    1. The University-Wide Senate has already made great strides on this project. If it’s not completed this semester, then it will likely be  next semester. 

Nigel Walton

  1. Collaborate with the Student Alumni Association, Georgia State University Foundation and Alumni Connection Council to create one-of-a-kind student life experiences

Rating: 3.5/5

    1. While this should be a relatively simple thing to do, it’s not really his job as president. Each campus’ chair of student engagement and other related positions should be the ones reaching out to departments for events and such. However, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with SGA presidents hosting events. It should be a relatively easy task to accomplish. 
  1. Work with the university and outside partners to create a financial literacy class that addresses racial wealth gaps

Rating: 2/5

    1. The policy in its current form is extremely unlikely. It’s difficult to change the curriculum of a class or add a new class. That would require new staff who are knowledgeable in that area, new textbooks and creating deals with those distributors to have cheaper textbooks for students. This policy will likely be watered down to an event similar to Up to Us’s Black Wall Street event. 
  1.  Move toward 65% of the university voting in the upcoming 2020 elections

Rating: 5/5

    1. The key is in the wording for this policy: He wants to move toward 65%, not reach 65%, which means even a 1% increase means the policy is a success. With the creation of the first student-run university election booth, this policy should be a resounding success, especially in collaboration with Vote Everywhere (note that while he told The Signal 65%, his public platform says 60%, so it appears a little inconsistent). 

Carlos Porter

  1. Improve university security in general

Rating: 2/5

    1. Porter wasn’t very specific in what security measures he wanted to tackle. He references some floors in university buildings not having cameras; however, those claims haven’t been confirmed. Student safety is often the most important issue on campus, but it’s such a large issue with so many factors that it will be difficult to tackle without a clear plan. 
  1. Improve unity in student government 

Rating: 3/5

    1. This is a direct response to the issues that plagued the 90th administration. This is a very sticky issue that has been building since the 89th, and it came to a very vocal head at a university-wide meeting, as covered by The Signal. Frankly, if any of the candidates could unite SGA, it would be Porter. He’s a current speaker of the Newton Senate, and he would have an office on the Atlanta campus, which he could translate this into the university as a whole. However, this will still be a difficult thing to accomplish even with Porters ties to the perimeter campuses.
  1. Create a system of holding members accountable 

Rating: 5/5

    1. Yet another general policy but it’s one of the most important. Porter wants to ensure that everyone in SGA, as former University-Wide President Franklin Patterson often said, “remember their why.” SGA representatives work for the students, not themselves, which they often forget. This should be a relatively easy policy point to enforce, but it’s extremely internally focused. Is he running for the SGA vote or the student vote?

Nahom Taye

  1. Improve Student Financial Services and University Career Services

Rating: 2/5

    1. Here we go again — yet another candidate claiming to bring changes to financial aid and career services. And much like previous administrations, he will likely fail. Both of these departments are some of the best performing in the nation. They try their hardest to get your issue resolved in a timely manner. However, speaking about Financial Aid, they are often understaffed when it matters most. The department has great service rates in the middle of the semesters, but toward the beginning of each semester, traffic picks up, the staff is overworked and students’ attitudes shift. Folks, before you head to the office or call, go to Panther Answer first, which you can access from PAWS any day of the week and can answer most of your questions.
  1. Improve the experience of commuters

Rating: 5/5

    1. This is a great policy. Taye is a commuter student, so he understands the struggles that the majority of the university faces, not to mention the way he plans to complete this, which is extremely simple: show maps of daily road closures and ways to get to the different parking decks around campus. Taye also plans on showing students how to get the university’s different parking passes. Why SGA and Parking Services aren’t doing these things already are beyond me.
  1. Take steps in designing a campus to accurately represent our university

Rating: 1/5

    1. If you pull a random student aside and ask them what our university’s identity is, they most likely wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. Besides painting the area around each campus blue, which is literally impossible because of city codes and private property laws, there is no real way to “design a campus” that accurately represents the university. The Greenway on the Downtown campus took years and millions of dollars to even become an idea on a blueprint. This is an extremely unlikely policy to even be looked at by the university administration.

Editor’s Note: This writer is a former member of student government. He also has maintained multiple connections within the organization. The article has been fact-checked by The Signal’s Managing Editor Will Solomons.