Candidates debate as election nears

With Student Government elections less than a week away, some St. John’s students may still be wondering who to cast their votes for.

In an effort to reach out to the student body, the SGI candidates held a debate on Monday, March 16 in the Little Theatre, at which a group of close to 30 St. John’s students attended.

Candidates are running on either of two tickets-VISION or P.R.I.D.E (“Promising You Reliability, Innovation, Dedication to Excellence”). In addition to these two tickets, there is an independent candidate running for Sophomore Senator on F.A.I.T.H, which stands for “Finding Solutions, Answering Questions, Imagine a Better Future, True to St. John’s University’s Mission, Hardworking.”

Both of the presidential candidates began by introducing themselves and the rest of their tickets.

“We all come from different backgrounds,” said Chenele Francis, presidential candidate for VISION. “We are residents, commuters, RAs [resident assistants] and OLs [Orientation Leaders]. I guarantee through all of us that your voices will be heard.”

Patrick McBurney, presidential candidate for P.R.I.D.E, said that if elected, he planned to create a community service committee, which would track the service of student groups. He said he also hopes to put in place an “Organization of the Month” incentive where groups will be awarded for their service.

Students wrote their questions down on cue cards. The candidates then went through each question one by one.

The first question asked pertained to what sets each ticket apart from the current SGI administration.

“Something that separates our ticket is our experience,” said McBurney. “Through our experiences we can take what we know, bring that to the new UC and help accomplish what students want.”

Francis, however, had another take on the matter of experience.

“It’s one thing to have experience, but it’s more about what you do with it,” she said. “It’s all about the hands-on experiences gained and what you do
with it.”

One of the other key issues discussed included student involvement on campus.
There were a few questions posed about student involvement, the first pertaining to how the two tickets wanted to get sophomores to stay involved in activities following their freshman year.

Andre McDonald, running for Sophomore Senator on the P.R.I.D.E ticket, proposed holding forums for freshmen and sophomores.
“I think we should have freshmen/sophomore forums to help engage more freshmen and hopefully that we get them to participate in things on campus more as a freshman and then continue to do so as a sophomore,” he said. “I think financial aid workshops for students would also be very beneficial.”
When asked how the candidates planned to increase student involvement on campus, Donald Wiggins, running for Sophomore Senator for F.A.I.T.H said he did not think this would be an easy task.

“That’s not easy because you can only advertise for events so much,” he said. “It’s mainly all on the will of the student to want to attend events.”

Francis said she thinks there needs to be more promotion of events in order to increase attendance.

“Getting our floor members involved will be the key to getting more people involved,” she said. “You can hang fliers but you also have to be out there promoting events to students. You can’t be afraid of going up to people and interacting.”

McBurney gave a similar answer when the question of how to get commuter students involved on campus was asked.

“…we have to really go to them, find out what interests them and have programming that they want,” he said. “We should have programming throughout the day, not just common hour.”

Elections will be held on Monday, March 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. and from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the main lobby of the library, Marillac Cafeteria and Montgoris Dining Hall. They will be held on Tuesday, March 25, in the same locations. Students can also vote online on Monday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and on Tuesday from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.