The Daily Gamecock

Student Government executive debate: candidates want improved mental health resources, more cooperation with administration

<p>Presidential candidate Gurujjal Roopra speaks during the student government presidential debate hosted by The Daily Gamecock and SGTV in the Russell House Ballroom on Feb. 15, 2022.</p>
Presidential candidate Gurujjal Roopra speaks during the student government presidential debate hosted by The Daily Gamecock and SGTV in the Russell House Ballroom on Feb. 15, 2022.

The Daily Gamecock partnered with SGTV to moderate the Student Government executive office candidate’s debate Tuesday night at the Russell House ballroom.

Voting will take place from Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. to Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. Ballots will be available online. 

Student Body President candidates 

Gurujjal Roopra, Reedy Newton and Nicholas Marzullo are the candidates for student body president. Read the full coverage of these candidates here.

Roopra is running with vice presidential candidate Faith Gravley. She said she has continually lobbied for the student body president position to have a vote on the board of trustees. 

Roopra said at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where President-elect Michael Amiridis is currently chancellor, there is a student vote on the board of trustees, so she said she is hopeful this change can be implemented at USC.

Roopra also said she wants to include student organizations in her effort to rename buildings on campus that are named after controversial figures. She said doing so would elevate students’ voices rather than trying to carry on the effort solely within Student Government. 

“Every single student as they walk through the Horseshoe and into their classes, they should feel like this is somewhere where they're wanted and where they belong,” Roopra said.

Newton is running with vice presidential candidate Maia Porzio. Newton said she is also in support of the effort to rename buildings on campus that are named after controversial figures but that she wants to focus on other efforts to honor people of color as well. 

“I look to the future and look ahead and see the tangible changes that we can make now,” Newton said. 

Newton’s mother is on the university’s board of trustees and her father is a member of the state legislature, but Newton said she does not view those relationships as conflicts of interest. 

“I think that my experience and my advocacy work here in student government speak more than my last name does,” Newton said. “I don't view it as a negative thing, I actually view it as a positive thing.” 

Nicholas Marzullo is running alone after his running mate, Lauren Young, dropped out of the race for vice president. Marzullo said his campaign’s focus is on mental health and improving students’ morale. 

“I saw a great decline in mental health on campus, personally,” Marzullo said. “There definitely needs to be change.” 

Unlike all of the other student body president candidates, Marzullo has had no prior role in Student Government, but he said his experience as a president of two clubs on campus makes up for this lack of experience. 

“Adaptation has always been a key part of my success,” Marzullo said. “I would have a holistic, general overview on almost any different subject or category.”

 Student Body Vice President candidates

Faith Gravley and Maia Porzio are the candidates for student body vice president. 

Gravley said she decided to run with Roopra — the only woman of color on the ballot — to show students they are represented in Student Government and celebrate diversity. 

"I think as well, through my staff, it's extraordinarily important to reach out to those pockets of campus that haven't been connected with, and give them the opportunity to join student government and apply for these positions," Gravley said. 

She wants to create an optional course for students to take over the summer along with their alcohol awareness education. According to Gravely, this new course would make students more aware of what mental health resources are available on campus.

Serving as a university ambassador gave Porzio the experience to listen to other people’s perspectives that were different from her own, according to the candidate.

“Just because I don't necessarily descriptively represent everybody on this campus, doesn't mean that I won’t substantively represent them,” Porzio said. 

Week-long initiatives and programs work better into students' various schedules than single events would, according to Porzio. 

Porzio said she had already met with April Scott, the Associate Director of Mental Health Initiatives, to create “some pretty concrete plans” to advocate for more funding for mental health counselors for students.  

To advocate for the return of wellness days in addition to normal university holidays, Porzio said she would communicate directly with the board of trustees and potentially create student petitions. 

Speaker of the Student Senate candidate 

Noah Glasgow is the lone candidate for speaker of the student senate.

Glasgow said as speaker of the student senate, he would break tie votes with a vote of his own conscience rather than a “no” vote as precedent dictates.

“I would vote accordingly to what's best for the student body. It might not be what the Senate wants, but it is what's best for the student body,” Glasgow said. 

Glasgow said the Senate was in a unique position to pursue equity by being completely in control of student organization funding since the position of the student body treasurer will no longer exist as of this election. 

Improving the university’s response to sexual assault on campus was a major point of Glasgow's campaign’s platform. He said a big issue is students being unaware of progress being made by the university and he wanted to use Student Government’s resources to communicate that information to students.