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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Opinion

SGA Showdown: The humble House of Red and REDvolution powerhouse


Editor’s Note: With two weeks left until the election, we take a look at two of the candidates poised to square off on this year’s presidential ballot. Candidates Shane Smith and Naeem Abdullah will follow next week.

House of Red: Returning SGA to humble roots

Andrea (SGA)

Andrea Segovia, House of Red. | Justin Tijerina//The Daily Cougar

Each party has its views, but SGA presidential candidate Andrea Segovia tried her best to stay positive and not bash other candidates. She felt it was unnecessary because each candidate was there to talk about his or her platform. If candidates disagreed, rebuttals could go either nicely or horribly. 

Segovia, remaining composed and positive, said the House of Red party is not looking to win by tearing down the opponent — an unusual notion in modern politics.

“People are at each other’s throats, and House of Red tries to stay out of it,” Segovia said. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘You need to play dirty, because this election is going to be dirty,’ and I don’t believe in playing dirty. People will mess up just by themselves.”

Segovia said the main justification of House of Red’s campaign is just to be clean, be honest and not slander its opponents. This positive attitude came after Segovia left her position in SGA. At a senate meeting, she reminded SGA that it is the voice of the students and cannot be set on some personal agenda. We’ll see if the party’s positivity policy was an afterthought or just part of the act when we get the election results.

The first thing Segovia likes to ask students when she approaches them about the election is “Do you know what SGA is?” Unsurprisingly, most of the time, students say no. Segovia then asks whether students know who their senators are, and most of the time students don’t know what a SGA senator is. If they do, the response is along the lines of, “I have no clue what the name of my senator is or what they look like.” Segovia believes her party can change that.

“That’s the first thing I would work on. I want the senators to meet with their constituents,” Segovia said. “If they don’t know you, then you’re not representing your college well.”

It’s a good goal to have, but it will require an immense amount of teamwork to reach within the first half of the 51st administration. It will be a hard climb for the House of Red.

The SGA office is located on the second floor of the UC North, sectioned away from the rest of the student organizations. It’s the perfect metaphor for SGA’s current situation. There seems to be an elitist attitude within the organization. Few students know how easy it is to become involved with SGA, and House of Red aims to change this.

“I want to reach out in a positive way. Everyone has to have an active part in (working to) better this university,” Segovia said.

However, if students want to bring humility back into SGA, this is the party to root for.

REDvolution: The workhorse and powerhouse of SGA

Charles (SGA)

Charles Haston, REDvolution. | Justin Tijerina//The Daily Cougar

It’s no secret that REDvolution is a party with strong contenders to back it up. Presidential candidate Charles Haston has faced criticism since the beginning of election season. After a few jabs from his opponents at the SGA debate, Haston continues to display confidence.

Haston said he felt REDvolution had the strongest presentation and that his opponents — including Shane Smith, a previous contender to run as Haston’s vice president — attacked only Haston.

“It shows to me that they don’t have their own platform to build on,” Haston said. “The only thing they have to do is to try diminishing or marginalizing my accomplishments, because they don’t have any accomplishments of their own.”

Strong words coming from someone who received backlash for taking full credit for what he lists as his accomplishments. However, Haston did say he was “the one who brought everyone together” to collaborate — a statement much closer to the truth. I think he was misinterpreted and he’ll need to be clearer if he wants to appease the students and win over doubtful voters.

Haston stands strong behind the notion that the University does not have a safety problem but rather a safety-perception problem. UHPD has to report every incident that happens on campus and, because they are required to send out an email for every incident, students believe there is a crime problem.

According to Haston, the University has done a good job in the last three or four years addressing the safety problem. Safety isn’t just about the statistics but also making people feel safe.

“Statistically, the University is a safer campus than Rice University,” Haston said. “You don’t get an email every time a crime happens in a community. Here, you do.”

Currently an undergraduate at-large senator, Haston wants to continue the drive that current SGA President Cedric Bandoh has established in the last two administrations.

REDvolution’s strong suit of senator candidates gives the party a marked advantage, because the majority of the candidates are returning senators. They are the powerhouse presidential party with all the punches. The ballot alone is already overwhelming, and it seems to be the party students are most aware of, which is a given since REDvolution has won year after year.

Another clear advantage for REDvolution is its well-established relationship with the University administration. It already knows what’s on the University agenda, and that makes this party the most prepared of the four.

With perception a problem, Haston is bringing a variety of strong leaders on board, ranging from student organization leaders to Greek life leaders. This strategic roster is intended to improve student programming and campus life, something that might appeal to the student body.

REDvolution has marketed itself as the “party of proven leadership,” and while there is no doubt to this, one can still question what accomplishment it’s referring to.

It is welcome to claim everything accomplished during the 50th administration, but that will all be old news in March. It’s great that the party can go back and say, “Look at all of these things we’ve put together for the student body,” but it sets a high standard for the next administration.

Let’s just hope that if its members are elected, REDvolution will keep its word, fulfill what it set out to do and not leave students with empty promises.

Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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