SGA elections bring on presidential debate
Election season is back. Candidates are campaigning and social media is buzzing. Why again so soon? Because UMHB is about to elect a new student body president. The current one, Kassidy Harris, will graduate this spring after a two-year administration, leaving a void that needs to be filled.
Tiffany Wurdemann, who has been the student organizations director and adviser to the Student Government Association for the past year and half looks forward to working through this transition for the first time.
Wurdemann takes the work the organization does seriously and believes its members are influential on campus.
She said, “In my opinion, they are like the leaders of the leaders. They’re supposed to represent the school …, We have an eclectic group of students and they come, and they feel the weight of the responsibility they have, and so when they come in, they’re voicing what they’ve heard on the street….”
Wurdemann has high hopes for SGA’s future and is encouraged by the progress the organization has made in recent months.
She said, “Last year SGA had about one bill go through..This year in the beginning we had like 15 we were working on … and then three ended up being retired because the administration just took them on, so we didn’t have to make it into a proper bill.”
Wurdemann wishes both candidates the best. She is also felt sympathy for the tensions they felt during the debate. She said, “I think with any debate, there’s that pressure. You’re being watched. One question can stir people’s opinions. I feel for those candidates. I would not want to be up there.”
A look at Each Candidate
Collin Davies is a senior business and Spanish major who has been in SGA for a total of three semesters. He has served as a senator and a treasurer. Some of his accomplishments include helping make Veterans Day a campus holiday and procuring more bike racks for the apartment buildings in Independence Village.
After receiving inspiration from conversations with previous SGA presidents and candidates, he decided to pursue a campaign even though he had originally intended to graduate at the end of the coming fall semester. If he is elected, he will stay and graduate in spring of 2014 to fulfill the two-semester term requirement.
Regarding his reasons for running, Davies said, “I’m rather relational … so my platform would hinge off of my connectedness. I think success in being student body president is not found in my ability to accomplish things as an individual, but rather my ability to give the power to the student body….”
Among the aspects of campus life that he would like to change is the level of unity among different social groups.
“Right now I feel a lot of times there’s an identity crisis at UMHB. You come to UMHB and you either identify yourself as … the Christian conservative kid at UMHB … or I’m an athlete, and I’m going to put all my identity into athletics, or I’m really just in college because my parents make me … so I’m really not here to plug in anywhere,” he said.
Explaining how he wants to unify the campus he said, “Rather than put our identities in one area, I think every student at UMHB has multiple passions and so the ability to advertise and to publicize the fact that even though you’re a student athlete, you can still get involved in SGA.”
Sophomore Christian studies major Naomi Flores has been involved with SGA since the beginning of this school year. She currently holds the position of junior class secretary. A piece of legislation she is working on is a plan to offer reduced-cost meal plans for students who live in the apartments who may have stumbled upon rough financial times.
She said, “For me personally, my sophomore year, I didn’t have enough money to pay for groceries and had a hard time the first month and a half of school paying for food, and I had to rely on friends to swipe me into Hardy or the SUB.”
Flores knows first hand what its like to need assistance as a student living in the apartments without a meal plan and wants to provide others in a similar situation with a means of relief until times look brighter. She envisions the act as a potential scholarship offering.
A second bill she is working is called “Free the Trees,” and is aimed at removing rules that prohibit tree climbing. This legislation is important to those who have joined the recent hammocking craze.
Although Flores hasn’t had as much SGA experience as Davies, she is confident her experience in building the BSM’s film and media ministry “from the ground up” has equipped her with the necessary skill of delegation of authority to a variety of people types to make an organization run smoothly.
Her platform states that she will “lead, learn and serve as Christ did in our community.”
Even if Flores doesn’t win, she still wants to live out the same service-oriented goal she made as a candidate.
“The more I look at my platform, the more I see it as something I want to do whether or not I’m student body president … I would love to serve in that capacity, but I feel like the things I said … I can do no matter what I’m doing on campus,” she said.
On February 27 at 5:30 p.m. students streamed into Manning chapel to watch the presidential debate. Moderating were senior international business major and current president Kassidy Harris and senior social work major and vice-president Caitlyn Hiett.
During the first half of the debate, Harris and Hiett asked questions of the candidates. During the second half, the moderators asked questions that those in attendance tweeted to SGA.
At the end of the debate, Hiett addressed the candidates saying, “Please make a final statement about why students should vote for you.”
Davies replied, “Through my three years at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor I feel like I’ve learned what it means to be a student, and also what it means to be a leader … I’ve had the opportunity to learn the heart and mission of the university, and I’ve had the opportunity to engage with people relationally that I would not engage with in other venues.”
Flores had the last word. “You should vote for me because I have a passion for the Lord, I have a passion for the university, and I have a passion for where the Lord may take the university. I know serving SGA, serving here on campus has taught me the importance of the other individual, getting them, and encouraging them, and speaking self-worth over them in their lives.”