The Daily Gamecock

Student Government executive debates: Candidates want more Student Government inclusivity, transparency

<p>Student body presidential candidates third-year political science student Reilly Arford (left) and third-year public relations student Emily "Emmie" Thompson (right) on stage debating on Feb. 15, 2023. They are the only two presidential candidates this election season.&nbsp;</p>
Student body presidential candidates third-year political science student Reilly Arford (left) and third-year public relations student Emily "Emmie" Thompson (right) on stage debating on Feb. 15, 2023. They are the only two presidential candidates this election season. 

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

Polls will open at 9 a.m. on Feb. 21 and close at 5 p.m. on Feb. 22.

Student Body President candidates 

Reilly Arford and Emmie Thompson are the candidates for student body president. 

Arford's platform is for promoting diversity and accessibility to Student Government. 

His platform centers on three pillars — “build, challenge, teach,” through which he wants to encourage students to commit to diversity and inspire equitable treatment across the student body.

Arford’s position on expanding Student Government comes mainly from a outsider perspective as he was first denied when he applied for Student Government as a freshman but said his experience would have made him a good candidate. 

Thompson wants to improve the use of the Student Government budget, and her campaign is promoting itself by advertising its tangible goals and promises.

“We'll create discounted parking passes, a game day Uber discount, installed charger plugs in the stadium of Willy B and make sure to create an on-campus parking guide so everyone knows the most convenient places to park,” Thompson said. 

She also wants to make Carolina Core more advantageous to students by requiring more applicable classes for their major.

They also plan to promote diversity and inclusion within Student Government with stronger recruitment. 

“We have so many good organizations on campus that have a focus on (diversity, equity and inclusion), so I would like to partner with them to help recruit from all aspects of campus,” Thompson said. 

 Student Body Vice President candidate

Abrianna Reaves is the sole candidate for vice president. 

<p>Third-year marketing and finance student Abrianna Reaves gives a speech on stage during the Student Government Executive Debates at the Russell House Ballroom on Feb. 15, 2023. Reaves is running unopposed as vice president of the Student Government Association.</p>
Third-year marketing and finance student Abrianna Reaves gives a speech on stage during the Student Government Executive Debates at the Russell House Ballroom on Feb. 15, 2023. Reaves is running unopposed as vice president of the Student Government Association.

Reaves, Thompson's running mate, took the stage during debates to address her goals for programming, her plans with Thompson and how she is a good candidate for the communicative role of vice president. 

Like Arford, she comes into the election with more of an outsider perspective, spurring her goals of wanting to improve student connections and promote diverse of voices in Student Government.

“I think that this is something I'm very passionate about, because as you all know, I haven't been in Student Government since my freshman year first semester, so I was able to see it from the outside. And I did see that it was a somewhat closed-off environment. It did feel as if it was only people with the same majors, a lot of people that come from the same backgrounds, and I really want to increase that specifically through internal programs,” Reaves said.

The Thompson Reaves ticket highlights that they have tangible goals to bring to the roles, and Reaves emphasized this in her responses. 

In the role of vice president, she hopes to create programming to address food insecurity around the area. 

“This specific program, the Gamecock Pantry, I really want to emphasize this and expand on it because it’s an issue that not a lot of people, per se, believe is real,” Reaves said. “It definitely is an issue that we should all focus more on.”

The vice president’s role deals a lot with communication and connecting to students. She believes a lot of the dissatisfaction in Student Government is because it feels disconnected. 

“I just think that communication skills and also being a marketing major and having these communications roles is extremely important because a lot of resources on campus that are offered for students, they quite simply don't know about,” Reaves said. 

Speaker of the student senate candidates

Cameron Eubanks and Jordyn Vélez are the candidates for speaker of the student senate. 

Vélez currently serves as the chief of staff to speaker Natalie Trimble, where she noticed a disconnect between Student Government and the student body, which she originally addressed. 

“A lot of people don't really fully understand senate. And I think that that's a big issue. Because we are not doing what we can to make sure that people know that they have the option of Student Government to come to, and we also don't have much inclusion in the body. So I want to make sure that we're promoting an inclusive environment for everyone,” Vélez said. 

In order to improve senate transparency, Vélez wants to move the student senate livestream to a service other than Facebook, which she said college students don’t use as much as other platforms. She also wants to condense the public Student Government Google Drive, and potentially start a newsletter with condensed information about senate proceedings. 

Eubanks said that while switching the livestream over is important and the Google Drive is a mess, it is not the most important part of communicating with students.

“I would say that meeting with students and actively having committees saying, 'This is what we're doing, and this is what we want to do,'” Eubanks said. “But when you don't actually speak to the students, how are you supposed to know what they actually want, and how are you supposed to know how to actively represent them?”  

Vélez said that she created "Ask a Senator," an initiative to go out and table outside Russell and talk to the student body about their wants, needs and complaints, to bridge that gap. She recently added a spreadsheet to the public drive detailing what issues students have told her they want to see the Student Government address. 

Eubanks said that one of his main goals is to shift advising to a professional model and to bring the senate together as a bipartisan, cohesive effort.

“Ultimately we'll tackle issues such as parking reform, advising, academics, Title IX reform, all of those issues together. And I know these seem as lofty goals, but one role of the speaker of the senate is to make it a tangible reality,” Eubanks said. 

He also talked about the fact that he was denied the position of division secretary of student services in the cabinet of the student body president twice. He said that because the position was new, it was unclear in the codes about what type of position it was, which caused confusion for the senators. 

“Ultimately, I did not get the nomination, but President Newton saw that I was one of the best candidates for the job. And so I was able to transition my experience and my action plan into a role on her staff,” Eubanks, who currently serves as the director of student services, said. 

Vélez said that Eubanks was actually denied the second time because senators wanted him to expand on his plan for disability services when he was first denied, and he did not expand on the topic in his action plan. Eubanks said that his action plan was 12 pages long and very thorough. 

“I believe that the reason was that those people with disabilities deserve the same amount of attention that many academics were deserving of, so that's kind of played into that decision,” Vélez said. 

Treasurer candidates

Hannah Augsbach Lamma and Brandon Badinski are the candidates for the newly reinstated treasurer position. 

Augsbach Lamma is currently the chair of the student senate finance committee.

“​​I've talked to tens if not hundreds of student organizations about the process they've gone through with funding, and I've also heard their complaints up front and face-to-face. And that was a big reason why I wanted to run in the first place, and why I wrote the referendum to bring the treasurer back,” Augsbach Lamma said. 

Augsbach Lamma said that one of her main goals is to increase the number of comptrollers under the office of the treasurer. Comptrollers help allocate funds to student organizations. Currently, deputy secretaries of finance are filling that position.

“My goal in this position is to get more organizations to start to engage with Student Government. I feel that we do a very good job of outreach right now, but we can always do better. I want to do this by increasing the number of comptrollers we have and increasing communication between us and the student body,” Augsbach Lamma said.

Badinski, who is also a student senator, said one of his main goals is to use every dollar of the student activity fee and to be transparent with the student body about where the money goes and how much of it has been used.

“There is a current finance tracker, but it’s not public to the students. The student activity fund is literally part of everyone's tuition, and you have every right to know where that money is going and how much we have to allocate,” Badinski said.

Badinski wants to create an app or a website to track the usage of the student activity fund. He said he would work with Student Government advisors and delegates from STEM colleges, like engineering, to see the idea through. 

Augsbach Lamma said that this year 98% of the budget has been used, and the Student Government is on track to spend all of it by the end of the fiscal year in June. She also said that the process for requesting funds is straightforward, but that she thinks that the steps could be better advertised, including on social media, which is run through the vice president’s office. 

“Ms. Augsbach Lamma had plenty of opportunities to actually make good on those initiatives this fiscal year, and while I commend her doings, I think that there has been ample opportunities over at the vice president's office, and there were ample opportunities to notify the entirety of the student body about treasurer workshops,” Badinski said. 

Augsbach Lamma said that it is not her job currently to run treasurer’s workshops, though she does attend them. 


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