The Bold, Aureum and Alliance slates met for the third debate of the 2020 Student Government Association (SGA) election before an audience of around 40 people Thursday night at Teachers College.
The slate members made their final pitches for being elected during the debate, which featured Q&A-style questions submitted by students and the moderator.
Featured among the questions were topics like the less feasible platform points of each slate and student-submitted questions with a strong emphasis placed on SGA’s relationship with Greek Life organizations in the wake of the controversial “Zero Tolerance Policy.”
After being covered in the first debate of the race, the resolution, which penalizes Greek Life members for hazing and sexual assault, was brought up again when the slates were asked about SGA’s relationship with Greek Life in the wake of the resolution along with a question about how the slates would respond to a senate that intended to put “a specific and exclusive spotlight on Greek life and sexual assault.”
RELATED: Meet the Ball State SGA slate: Bold
The Bold slate’s presidential, vice presidential and treasurer candidates, who are members of Greek Life organizations, said they would make sure future legislation on sexual assault addresses all groups, not just Greek Life.
“I don't want to waste my breath over this because we've already talked about this, but what we need to do is start working with those Greek organizations to make sure we rebuild that relationship,” said Connor Sanburn, Bold’s presidential candidate.
RELATED: Meet the Ball State SGA slate: Alliance
Alliance slate members took a similar stance, saying they were against treating any one organization differently from another with their legislation.
“If we inherit an SGA that continues to put the negative spotlight on any group of individuals, we should probably treat that the same as any other group,” said James Schwer, the slate’s treasurer candidate.
Members of the Aureum slate, none of whom are involved in Greek Life, previously stated they supported the resolution, though they, like members of the Alliance and Bold slates, said the solution was too focused on Greek Life instead of applying to all organizations.
RELATED: Meet the Ball State SGA slate: Aureum
During the debate, they said more oversight over the legislative process would be necessary to prevent bills like the “Zero-Tolerance Policy” from affecting specific parts of the student body.
“One of the things that we will definitely do as a slate is ensure that we're following up with senators on the progress as they're writing the legislation, first of all because it's really important to make sure that they reach out to all the people they need to reach out to, both administrative and student organization alike, especially if there's a specific population that's being targeted in the bill,” said Aureum presidential candidate Miryam Bevelle.
The slate members also addressed Ball State’s newly-released inclusive excellence plan focused on recruitment, retention, recognition and inclusion.
Bevelle said, as someone who worked for the Office of Admissions, she was familiar with the reasons Ball State was pursuing the initiative.
“[Ball State’s plans] made a lot of sense from a business perspective,” she said. “I definitely think that are playing into a little bit more on the personal side. I feel like it's much more of a business plan than it is appeasing what the students need.”
Bold’s vice presidential candidate, Jordyn Blythe, said she was used to Ball State’s recruitment programs due to her on-campus involvement and because she belongs to a racial minority Ball State.
Blythe said she supported the program because it would improve representation for diverse incoming students.
“Other students on campus need to see us doing these things to know that they have a place here, so that they can be successful here [and] to know that they can thrive here,” Blythe said.
Alliance’s presidential candidate, Aric Fulton, said he had spoken with Marsha McGriff, associate vice president for inclusive excellence, about the inclusive excellence plan, and he and his slate members noticed it did not feature any provisions for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
Fulton called the plan a “great start” but said more work needed to be done.
“This is just the start of the plan,” Fulton said. “There's still going to be changes implemented, and [McGriff is] still connecting or reaching out with different organizations through the university to ensure that this plan is better.”
Finally, the Aureum and Bold slate members addressed questions specific to their less-feasible or difficult platform points submitted by a student.
Aureum was questioned about its claim they had already completed half their platform points, as they were asked why they had not selected new points for the next year despite all being senators who could have introduced the points before running in the election.
Bevelle said the work of a slate goes beyond the platform points, and starting platform points is not “where the work ends."
“We're constantly doing different events [and] starting new initiatives,” Aureum vice presidential candidate Dylan Lewandowski said. “What's on the platform is something concrete that we know that would take enough time to not be able to just be completed within one month, unlike a lot of the other things that we do in senate.”
Members of the Bold slate then faced a question on their platform point on implementing heated bus stations on campus, which Jim Lowe, associate vice president of facilities planning and management, said might be an unnecessary use of money.
Sanburn responded by saying the issue had polled well with students his slate members surveyed.
“Not every student sits in the bus stations at the North Station and South Station,” Sanburn said. “A lot of us are in the middle of campus in the heart of campus on McKinley right there with all the cluster of the buildings, and sometimes those buildings could be far from the bus stations.”
Voting for the 2020 SGA elections will take place Feb. 17-18. If no slate secures at least 51 percent of the student vote, a runoff election will follow.
In the event of a runoff election, Thomas May, SGA elections commissioner, said in an email an all-slate debate will take place Feb. 20, and another round of voting will take place Feb. 24-25.
Contact John Lynch with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WritesLynch.