Low turnout curtails SGA forumBy Mazie Bryant | 02/29/2012 11:10pm
Due to a low student turn out, an attempt at a Student Government Association forum and debate on Wednesday night transformed into a group discussion focused on defining SGA's role on campus.
The UA chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Council of Negro Women hosted the event. Each candidate present was given three minutes to introduce their platform and another two minutes to address questions from the two organizations and audience members.
Presidential candidates Matt Calderone, Shea Stripling and David Wilson were each given their time to speak. After Wilson, however, the members of the NCNW and some members of the NAACP left the debate.
Frustration arose from both the leaders of the organization and the SGA candidates.
NAACP treasurer Fred Horn II believed that the lack of student attendance at the debate had a direct correlation to the lack of student interest in student government activities.
“We wanted to create a venue for all students to hear directly from the SGA,” Horn said. “We wanted to show students a different side of it. It’s sad to me that students have no passion or hope for the SGA. It shows that the general student body really doesn’t care enough to come out to debates.”
Chandler Wright, a candidate for vice president of Student Affairs, argued that the minimal student interest shown for SGA elections is the result of the recent state of the SGA.
“This past year has been one of the most tumultuous years in the history of the SGA,” Wright said. “One of the beautiful things about the UA campus is that you don’t need a title to get something done.”
Many SGA candidates left during the discussion, including presidential nominees Matt Calderone and Shea Stripling. David Wilson was the only presidential candidate to stay until the end of the meeting.
Although many departed, the discussion continued, focusing on the unification of the student body to increase attendance at debates.
“One of the biggest issues here is that no one wants to hear from you if they have never heard of you,” said Denzel Evans-Bell, a candidate for the vice president of Academic Affairs. “You care about what you are used to.”
Twitter and other forms of social media were suggested as methods of creating a diverse, informed and enthusiastic audience.
However, NAACP president Dabrielle Covington addressed the issue that a lack of passion for the SGA around campus has created a negative response to the candidates.
“Nobody has faith in our SGA,” said Covington. “We are going to have to do something to restructure it. Everyone just wants to bash it.”
Many candidates responded, saying that an ideal audience is a challenging one and that they are willing to take the criticism.
“I find it humbling that people want to bash us,” said Kyle Zimmerman, a candidate for vice president of External Affairs said. “As the SGA, we are not on a hill.”
The SGA hopefuls will meet again with the NAACP and the NCNW on Sunday afternoon for a more casual “Kick It with the SGA” event to connect to UA community members on a more personal level.