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SGA candidates debated stances to an empty room

Candidates participate in the SGA debates on March 20 and 21. Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

Student leader hopefuls debated in front of an empty room last week, where Student Government Association (SGA) Executive Vice President, Speaker of the Senate and Presidential candidates, along with senators, debated on their stances.

As expected, student involvement was a major issue brought up during the debates. Other issues included campus carry, transportation, transparency and environmental initiatives around campus.

First up was Speaker of the Senate, Fatoumata Barry and Jessica Siemer. Both Barry and Siemer agreed that communication was key, both in getting information to and from students, as well as staying in touch within SGA.

“One thing that I see a lot in SGA is that people drift off when they see the work they’re putting in is not getting results,” Siemer said. “There has to be that clear communication so that you can see when people do start to drift away, and intervene at that point.”

And that same communication point is what EVP candidate Anthony Jones focused on during his big night.

“What I’ve realized from sitting in all of these committees is that administration doesn’t know there is a problem unless we as a student body bring the problem to them. And not just the problem, but solutions,” Anthony Jones said. “There is no reason why there are 54,000 students and only 25 senator applications for Student Government Association.”

A point that his opponent, Ayesha Iqbal aso addressed.

“I think there are three sub-problems here: students that don’t have time, students that just don’t care, and students that don’t know what’s going on,” Iqbal said. “For the students that don’t have time, I think we have to make easy-access, technology driven apps and forms. For students that don’t really know what’s going on, that’s just spreading awareness around campus. Something as easy as just talking in a classroom can spark a lot of ideas. And for the students who don’t care, I think we need to find out why they don’t care and why they aren’t interested.”

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The President of SGA is the most important position because the representative will regularly meet with university administration to advocate for students. It follows that this debate had the greatest student turnout. The three students running for president are Franklin Patterson, Sai Maddali, and Terry Fye. Hot topics between the three candidates were student involvement as well as SGA accountability.

“I am actively trying to make change on campus,” Maddali said. “I’m not just going out there to talk to you and learn your concerns. I’m working to solve them.”

Dunwoody student Fye and former Perimeter College student Patterson both followed Maddali’s promise. Patterson used his experience at the Clarkston campus to incorporate Perimeter students into his platform and explain how his experience at both PC and Downtown will allow him to help bridge the gaps between the different student bodies.

As for Fye, accountability, he said, has been his priority in the past as well.

“As Speaker of the Senate, that was my main job, to hold my senators accountable in making sure that students know what they’re doing,” Fye said. “One thing we do on the Dunwoody campus is that we come into the cafeteria and we basically table within the cafeteria.”

The second and final day of debates included SGA senator hopefuls, running to represent each of the colleges at Georgia State. SGA senators represent their individual colleges and vote of policies to present to university administration. They play a very important role in SGA, yet only 11 people showed up to the debate, and even from the ones on the roster, many didn’t show up.

You can find the full live coverage of the SGA debates at georgiastatesignal.com/live.