The Daily Gamecock

Speaker of the student senate candidates discuss platform points

The Daily Gamecock interviewed candidates for the speaker of the student senate position who discussed their platforms, including their plans to increase communication between student senate, the student body and university administration.

Morgiana McDevitt, third-year economics and environmental studies student

McDevitt has plans to revamp the student senate Instagram in order to reach a wide variety of students, if elected to the speaker position.

“I’m very passionate about Instagram, or any other forms of social media that students might be interested in using," McDevitt said. "It’s a way that students can not only be knowledgeable of what’s going on through posts — such as posting what legislation passed, and any issues that are occurring — but students can then interact back with senate.”

McDevitt said she hopes to connect students and the transportation office, as “there’s really a disconnect between the parking office and students.” She also discussed her plans to bring back Zapp scooters and revamp the late-night shuttle to Five Points.

“Students should not be forced to either walk alone, walk in general, further than what can be considered safe. They should not be expected to walk across campus in a group, walk across campus alone or have to Uber alone late at night,” McDevitt said.

If elected, McDevitt said she hopes to be an advocate for underrepresented students and support initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion on campus.

"My role as speaker, that starts in student senate, so ensuring that our student senate is representative of what our student body is, because there's no way that our senate can represent diverse interests if our senate is not diverse and inclusive in the first place," McDevitt said. 

McDevitt said she also wants to incorporate more green spaces throughout campus with permanent seating and places for students to charge their technology.

"Something we've seen from the coronavirus pandemic, I think one of the few benefits on our campus, is we've seen an increase in outdoor space, which I know is really nice," McDevitt said.

Christian Phillips, second-year journalism student

Phillips said his biggest leadership challenge so far has been encouraging participation. It is also the underlying theme of his platform for speaker of the student senate.

Within the student senate, Phillips said he wants every student senator to write a piece of legislation, and his office would provide support if needed.

Also, he said the student senate would work more closely with the faculty senate to mend the fractured relationship between them. In doing so, the two organizations could work together on legislation, Phillips said. He said his speaker pro tempore would be required to attend every faculty senate meeting.

He said he also wants to see more communication between the student senate and its constituents. One method is instituting a monthly newsletter that would potentially go out to the entire student body, in addition to using social media platforms in new ways, such as explaining proposed legislation.

Communication with constituents would hopefully increase awareness of student senate on campus, Phillips said. With greater awareness, he said he thinks it would encourage more students of diverse backgrounds to join senate. He said this diversity is necessary to identify problems the student senate would be otherwise unable to see.

For example, the Student Government website is only available in English. A Spanish-speaking student senator pointed this out, which Phillips said he would’ve never realized otherwise.

“I wouldn't have thought about it. But there’s some big issues out there that we need to tackle in getting those voices into senate and supporting them,” Phillips said.

Phillips said his top priority as speaker would be class-price transparency. He said students shouldn’t be surprised by a fee days after classes start that they might be unable to afford, such as a required Cengage account.

Through Self-Service Carolina, students can click on registered classes and find a “Fees” tab. He said these additional purchases could be listed there so students can prepare for them.

Editor's note: Christian Phillips is a news writer with The Daily Gamecock. Phillips does not report on Student Government, and he was interviewed by a managing editor who has never directly worked with him.