Preview: SGA presidential and vice presidential debate
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the meet-and-greet is on Feb. 15, the debate and meet-and-greet are on Feb. 22.
Debate season for the 2017 Student Government Association elections is fast approaching.
The SGA vice presidential debate will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, via live-stream from CoogTV followed by the presidential debate at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the Houston Room.
Voting begins at midnight Feb. 28 and ends noon March 2. Students will be able to vote at designated polling locations on campus and online via Get Involved.
“Our tagline for this election will be ‘skip the line, go online,” said Austin Turman, political science senior and chief election commissioner. “Not only do we think that this makes it easier for students to vote, but it also gives them a private setting where students can voice their opinions without anyone looking over their shoulder.”
The presidential debate is free for all students to attend.
Before the debate, students can participate in a senatorial meet-and-greet at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 in the Senate Chamber where they can talk to senators who represent their college and address any campus issues.
During the debates, candidates will be asked questions concerning how SGA should interact with the student body, promote diversity and improve the administration. Relevant topics include parking issues, academics, colleges and places where candidates believe students should be better represented.
Both events will be live-streamed, and students can submit their own questions via Twitter in order to be more directly involved in the debate. All questions will be screened to ensure they are appropriate and involve the University.
Communications senior and editor-in-chief of The Cougar Trey Strange said it is an annual tradition for The Cougar to host the SGA presidential debate because it is important for the press to hold their government accountable.
“Anyone running for office, even at a university level, is held accountable for the words they say and the actions they say they will do,” Strange said. “We’ve seen very strong SGA administrations and really weak ones; the goal is always to have a strong administration. The debate will be a step in holding those governmental figures accountable.”
There will also be a vice presidential debate this year. The debate will be moderated by communications junior Jasmine Davis in a private, smaller, more intimate setting that students will be able to view live on the CoogTV Facebook page.
Computer information systems senior and Student Video Network Executive Producer Cory Rodriguez said they decided to live-stream the event after recognizing the benefits of live-streaming the presidential election in November.
“One of the great things about these videos is that students can go back and watch them after the debate,” Rodriguez said. “Of course with live-stream, students can still interact with and experience the event real time, but they can still go back and see it as a memory.”
Noting the impact of SGA on the University, Turman urges students to engage with the election this year.
“I think students need to seriously consider voting and seriously consider the gravity of what it is to vote,” Turman said. “There are going to be so many freshmen, sophomores and juniors who will have to live under this administration, so their voices need to be heard in order for their needs to be met.”