OUR VIEW: Amber Scales for SGA PresidentBy CW Editorial Board | 03/05/2018 10:27am
In the wake of the scandal revolving around our former SGA president, Jared Hunter, and his subsequent stepping down, The University of Alabama student body deserves a president who can represent them with both integrity and courage. Amber Scales is that candidate.
The seven members of The Crimson White editorial board have voted unanimously to endorse Amber Scales for SGA President. Scales has the presence, character and experience needed to be a successful leader, and she has feasible, detailed plans to help move the University forward.
Though many student government candidates claim to be advocates for the whole student body, no one actually embodies that mission more than Scales. She is truly connected to every corner of campus, including administrators, and has served as director of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the SGA, proving not only her understanding of and experience with the intricacies of the SGA’s bureaucracy, but also her commitment to representing students often forgotten by our exclusive student government.
Scales has ideas to improve many different facets of University life. She wants to create a peer mentoring program to help engage younger students. She would like to add mandatory bystander intervention and diversity training for student organization officers. She wants to ensure that ODS treats students with mental illnesses in the same manner as those with physical limitations. She would like to raise awareness about substance abuse on campus, especially within fraternity life. Additionally, she was the only candidate to discuss environmental issues, adding that she wishes to transition Greek life away from styrofoam, use only green cleaning supplies and recyclable paper on campus and have more and better identifiable recycling containers on campus.
One of her more ambitious platform points was to create specific language for incidents of bias in the Student Code of Conduct, which she said came from conversations she had with students of color after the Harley Barber incident. She wants to ensure that all students know such incidents can be reported and will be investigated, though she said exact consequences will be determined by the circumstances of each individual case. Though this editorial board has doubts about the feasibility of this change, as many would certainly view it as an attack on First Amendment rights, it does show that Scales cares deeply about the trails of students from marginalized groups and will do everything in her power to assist them.
Price McGiffert is a respectable candidate, but his platform lacked the vision clearly present in that of Scales. McGiffert, who served as vice president of external affairs this past year, possesses both the experience and the connections to lead effectively, but ultimately seemed out of touch with the issues that many students care about deeply.
His main idea to combat sexual assault was an awareness and fundraising campaign involving teal lights for campus buildings, and for mental health he proposed putting the number for the Counseling Center on the back of the ACT Card. These solutions oversimplify complex issues and show that McGiffert does not truly understand the extent of progress that UA students want to see made on campus.
Additionally, his safety plans revolved around rideshare services already present in Tuscaloosa and increasing off-campus lighting. When told about research that shows little correlation between lighting and a decrease in crime, especially sexual assault, he stated that students would feel safer anyways, even if it was not materially true.
McGiffert has an accomplished track record as VPEA and some good ideas to improve campus, but he shows a clear lack of understanding of what issues are important to the majority. McGiffert did not explicitly deny backing from the Machine during his interview, saying that he was not, "to the best of [his] knowledge," backed by any underground organization. This Editorial Board questions the ability of any person with potential connections to an organization so deeply entrenched in secrecy and voter intimidation to lead the SGA transparently and serve for all students, as he claims he wants to do.
Marissa Navarro has a platform with good sentiments about improving student health and wellness, and many of her stated plans on issues such as homelessness and food insecurity focus specifically on poor, working and marginalized students. However, Navarro did not give any details on how she would make her ambitious platform a reality. She seemed to believe she could figure out the details on the job once elected and spoke a lot of “raising awareness.” Bafflingly, Navarro also stressed the importance of adding lights off-campus as a way to combat sexual assault, an oversight that reflects poorly on a candidate who claims to be an expert on social justice issues. Navarro has a true commitment to serving all students and a proven track record of helping the marginalized, but this editorial board does not believe she would be an effective president.
In her interview, Scales comported herself with the confidence of someone ready to step into the presidency. She had a detailed response to every one of the editorial board’s questions and seemed to have thought through every aspect of her ambitious platform. Scales has a clear vision for how she wants to help the University progress and the ability to make this vision a reality. If she is elected our SGA president, all students, regardless of race or Greek affiliation, will be able to have confidence in the fact that they are being heard and represented by the best this University has to offer.
Our View represents the consensus of the CW Editorial Board.