SGA candidates talk student issues, transparency at presidential and vice presidential debate

SGA candidates talk student issues, transparency at presidential and vice presidential debate

SGA candidates talk student issues, transparency at presidential and vice presidential debate
April 07
17:49 2018

Presidential and vice presidential candidates for UNT’s Student Government Association (SGA) spoke about plans for transparency on behalf of the administration, making SGA more open to students and why students should vote for them at a debate Thursday.

Students submitted questions for the candidates about campus issues and what qualifies them for the job. About 50 students attended. Political science professor Dr. Bethany Blackstone moderated the debate.

“I think [the candidates] went up there really prepared,” SGA Vice President Lisa Umeh said. “I think it was really clear how they felt and where they stood [on issues].”

The presidential candidates are SGA Chief of Staff Muhammad Kara and SGA Senator Misaki Collins with media arts junior Dominique Thomas and finance junior Ipinowula “Ipi” Adedokun as their running mates for vice president, respectively. Neither vice presidential candidate is a member of  SGA.

“[The debate] was a good jumping off point to see where everyone is coming from and doing for the student collective,” marketing freshman Samuel Weber said.

Collins said she wants to be president because she has seen many student voices go unheard. She said seeing what student government on other campuses is like at conferences helped her realize UNT’s SGA has not yet reached its full potential.

“We can do so much more and I know that so much can change in one year,” Collins said. “I definitely want to lay down the platform with everyone on [the executive board], all of the senators, interns, everyone in the SGA and just empower everyone.”

Kara said he wants to be president because he has been involved on campus since his freshman year. He said he enjoys being involved because he is helping make an impact on students’ lives on campus.

“The core base of what SGA does is representation of all students and that’s [what] I feel that I’ve done since I’ve gotten to this campus,” Kara said.

Thomas said she wants to be vice president to help continue the trend of students initiating change on campus. Both Thomas and Adedokun said they want to provide students with more of a voice.

Thomas said she was able to do this with black students as president of the BSU.

“We let [black students] know that our concerns that we have were sent into administration so they are aware of it,” Thomas said. “With SGA, I don’t want to just be stuck with one community, I want to reach out to the whole UNT community.”

Adedokun said he thinks he will be able to help all students feel welcome and comfortable through SGA.

“We need to be able to understand the voices of all of our students, not only just important leaders, [but] even the students who aren’t in organizations,” Adedokun said.

Platforms

Kara said that his and Thomas’ platform focuses on intentional leadership, focused activism and engagement and principled administration.

“[It means focusing on students], actively and proactively working to make sure their lives are getting better,” Kara said.

Collins said hers and Adedokun’s campaign focuses on inclusivity and accessibility, school spirit, service and transparency.

“All these things combined could definitely help UNT became a greater campus,” Collins said.

To promote inclusivity and diversity on campus, Kara said he wants to have a “seat at the table” for students.

Presidential debate

Kara and Collins both cited their experience in SGA as the experience they think will help them as president.

As Chief of Staff, Kara said he oversees the executive board and pushes the president’s agenda throughout the university.

Collins said her position as a Community Engagement Intern in Dallas will help her as well.

Collins said she thinks the most important issue students face at UNT is not knowing about resources on campus and where to find them.

“If we fix that and we have a resource guide or just somewhere to go for students to learn about these resources, I feel like so many of those problems could be changed,” Collins said.

Kara said he believes the biggest issue for students is not understanding administrative decisions and why certain decisions were made.

“[Administrators] just kind of do things behind the scenes but they never ask the students what they feel about it,” Kara said.

He said many times students do not know what is going on with campus decisions and then feel frustrated. He said SGA should “help clear that path.”

Kara and Collins were also asked about opposing opinions and what SGA should do if a similar event to the National Street Preachers conference demonstration were to happen again. Both said they would provide safe spaces for students to discuss why the event was occurring.

Vice presidential debate

Transparency between students and the administration is a stance on both running mates’ platforms. Adedokun and Thomas said they want to encourage non-SGA members to get involved by building relationships with students and organizations.

“I want people to feel like SGA is not just a business, but also has a family-feel environment as well,” Thomas said. “You want to reach out to [student] organizations and let them know about things that SGA will be doing. You want to connect with them.”

Thomas said her experience as the president of BSU has shown her how important it is to have relationships with other student organization leaders through socials and networking.

Adedokun said he would like to get together with other student organization leaders.

“[Getting together with them] is very important because they have the means to the masses that SGA is somewhat falling short of,” Adedokun said.

Adedokun said making the SGA office feel more welcoming would also help and using social media more will also have a good outreach.

“We could use that with Twitter polls, finding out what problems can we fix,” Adedokun said.

About the candidates

Kara is a junior and has been in SGA since 2017. He has also been a part of Eagle’s Nest Funding, which gives student organizations financial assistance.

Thomas is currently the president of the Black Student Union (BSU). Kara and Thomas were also orientation leaders for the students who came to UNT in 2017 and are former University Program Council (UPC) members.

Collins is a junior and one of the senators for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She has been part of SGA for a little over two years and is a former intern for the Law Office of Tim Powers.

Adedokun is the CEO of World Apparel Co., which he started himself in 2016, and head manager for UNT’s women’s basketball team. He has also taken part in philanthropic work to help people in Flint through the water crisis and Hurricane Harvey. He has an upcoming project in Washington D.C. this summer.

Voting

Campaigning for the SGA elections began Monday. Students will be able to vote for president, vice president, senators and referendums through OrgSync starting at 8 am. April 9 until 5 p.m. April 12. Results should be released on April 13 after 5 p.m.

Featured Image: From left to right: Ipi Adedokun, Muhammad Kara, Misaki Collins and Dominique Thomas. Photos by Sara Carpenter. Graphic by Jake King

About Author

Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez

News Writer

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