The bright lights were on the Student Association presidential and executive vice presidential candidates at Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday night as they lauded the current executive and discussed who would best be able to advocate for students during the Second Annual Hatchet-SA Debate.
Throughout the evening, many of the candidates emphasized the positive work of current SA President Nicole Capp and EVP Brand Kroeger, and said they would continue the efforts of the present executive if elected to office.
Presidential candidate Tarek Al-Hariri said if voted into office, he would continue to hold weekly town hall meetings – an initiative started this year by Capp and Kroeger.
“I am not running to be president; I’m running because I’m a student,” said Al-Hariri, a sophomore. “I have great respect for what Nicole and Brand did this year. Many people talk but very few listen. We need to take each and every person seriously.”
Sens. and presidential candidates Vishal Aswani (SEAS-U) and Kevin Kozlowski (U-At Large) both said if elected, they will continue the successful town hall initiative started this year by Capp and Kroger.
“If I’m elected, everyone will have my cell phone number and everyone will know my room number,” said Aswani, a junior. “(Everyone) will know who I am, where I am and where to reach me.”
Write-in presidential candidate SA Sen. OG Oyiborhoro (CCAS-U) said the town hall meetings are a good concept. However, he said he will make them more interactive allowing students to receive answers to their concerns at the town hall meetings.
“I think the SA did very good job this year . but there is room for improvement,” said Oyiborhoro, a junior. “I propose a new type of town hall. This time, you the student will get to talk to the administrator and the administrator will get to talk to you.”
Along with his plans to continue holding town hall meetings, Kozlowski said he will engage students through GW United, an initiative that aims to expand the number of student constituencies with direct representation in the SA.
“GW United gives all students a voice. This SA is their SA,” Kozlowski said. “Not enough students feel their voices are being heard.”
The presidential candidates also told the more than 175 students in attendance why they are running for the SA’s top job.
Al-Hariri said he is running to “advocate and enrich.” Aswani said he “legitimately is here to help students” and will make himself available to students whether or not he is elected. Kozlowski said he is running because he is the only student that can “continue the progress of Nicole and Brand.” Oyiboroho said he is running because he said he feels that “every student, regardless of who (they) are, deserves a voice to be heard by administrators.”
Most of the EVP candidates also said they would work to emulate the Capp and Kroeger administration if they were elected.
Sophomore Kyle Boyer, assistant vice president of community affairs for the SA, said if he is elected EVP he will work with the SA president like Kroger has worked with Capp this past year.
“I will follow the model of Brand and Nicole this year,” Boyer said. “The EVP needs to work with the president. I think I have a good relationship with all (of the) presidential candidates.”
Sophomore SA Sen. Ted O’Neil (ESIA-U) said he will also use Capp and Kroeger’s model of governance if he is voted into office.
“What I want to focus on is practical changes with profound effects,” O’Neil said. “The best way to do that is with things (students) notice … Brand and Nicole did a great job this year with initiatives, instead of resolutions and other meaningless things (and I will do that too).”
EVP candidate and freshman Raven Burnett was the only candidate not to mention Capp and Kroeger during the debate. Burnett said she is an “SA outsider” and that will allow her to reduce SA apathy in GW students.
“My opponents are the incumbents, not of this SA but of the old SA,” Burnett said. “I am the representative of the new, and I hope you put your trust in me . because I have your best interests at heart.”