The 2018 Student Government executive candidates debate, the first to include speaker of the senate, covered topics ranging from dispersion of student fees to whether previous Student Government experience should be necessary for executive candidates.
But according to moderator Lee Goble, perhaps the most important aspect of this year's debate wasn't what came out of the candidates' mouths, but who showed up to hear it.
“This is probably the most diverse crowd I’ve seen in five years," said Goble, a former Student Body Vice President. "I’ve never seen so many people from so many walks of life be this interested in Student Government. And you know that has a lot to do with the Elections Commission, but it has even more to do with who’s running right now."
With 13 candidates participating in the debate, each had staffers and supporters in the Russell House ballroom Tuesday night. The candidates weren't afraid to call each other out, drawing cheers from the crowd whenever a particularly pointed remark was made.
“I think my favorite moment is when Nick Hooks kind of sparked the emotion of the entire event and stood up to deliver his message," said moderator Stephen Pollock, president of the Interfraternity Council. "I think that really sparked a fire and got everyone in the audience and on stage more passionate about the event.”
The stage was set with tables and chairs for each candidate, but after Hooks delivered his opening statement standing the remaining candidates followed suit.
“I’ve heard from multiple sources that this is one of the most exciting races they’ve seen and one of the most publicized,” debate chair for the Elections Commission Brooke Hamby said. "I'm very proud of it now that it's all over."
The most common theme throughout the debate was encouraging more interaction and communication between Student Government and the student body.
Presidential candidate Kathryn Stoudemire said that her main goal would be "to grow the connectivity between student organizations and the staff,” and treasurer candidate Eugene Suydam said that he wants to “increase relationships and partnerships with the organizations.”
Other candidates emphasized their ability to reach out to the entire student population. Presidential candidate Taylor Wright and his running mate Mills Hayes both mentioned that their different backgrounds combine to include Student Government, Greek Life, Student Media and more. Vice presidential candidate Madi Carzon pledged to end the "exclusivity" of Student Government and introduce student input to the board of trustees.
Second-year broadcast journalism student Nicole Dennis left feeling intrigued by what transpired during this two hour forum.
“I thought that the debate was very insightful for not only the presidential and vice presidential race, but for the treasurer and the speaker of the senate because we got to hear everyone’s opinions and what they want to change at the university," Dennis said.
Questions for the two candidates for speaker of the senate touched on the significance that the winner of the race will have as the first ever elected speaker of the student senate.
“You’re electing the person who will define the direction Student Government will go,” speaker candidate Patrick Ellis said.
His competitor Aaron Greenberg described the new position as “a unique opportunity to sit in front of 50 students every week and allow them to chase their dreams on this campus.”
Rewatch our livestream of the event on our Facebook page: facebook.com/thedailygamecock