Sizing up the SGA presidential candidates

Izmail Glosson//The Daily Cougar

The presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2014 SGA election (left to right): Andrea Segovia and Sarah Rusinko (House of Red); Naeem Abdullah and Roberto Martinez III (The “We” Party); Shane Smith (Cougar Pawlitics); Erica Tat and Charles Haston (REDvolution) | Izmail Glosson//The Daily Cougar

With four parties up for Student Government Association elections, this year will undoubtedly be an interesting election season. Each party has different views on the state of student government and wants to provide the best leadership for the student body.

Students can cast their ballots from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from Feb. 25 to 27 at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, the University Center, the University Center Satellite, the Arts Quad and the M. D. Anderson Memorial Library, according to Section V of the SGA Election Rules and Regulations.

House of Red – Andrea Segovia

It’s a little uncertain how prepared the party would be, since none of its candidates were senators under the previous administration.

The platform banks on focusing heavily on the student body, which is something Andrea Segovia said she resonates with.
Segovia said she believes Student Government Association has lost its purpose and cites students’ lack of knowledge of SGA as an organization and college representatives.

She said she wants to make students more aware of SGA, because the organization is supposed to be the voice of the students.

Segovia said we need to stop comparing ourselves to University of Texas Austin or Texas A&M University because we are our own school. The House of Red platform focuses on campus safety, student involvement and academic success. The party wants students to feel connected to campus and make it every Cougar’s home away from home.

The “We” Party – Naeem Abdullah

Naeem Abdullah was a senator in the 48th administration under Michael Harding, which had a strong senate. In contrast, Abdullah criticized the current administration’s lack of willingness to take on controversial issues and believes it hasn’t done anything.

During the SGA debate, Abdullah went as far as to call the current administration, led by President Cedric Bandoh, “puppets for the administrators.”

He said he sees the fact that the UH administration has a hand on everything SGA does as an obstacle.

“They tell you what to do, and then we do it. We will not bow down to the administration,” Abdullah said.

The main concern with this party is that we need a positive relationship with both the student body and University administration. A strong, working connection with the administration is necessary to get anything in SGA accomplished; it is questionable whether the “We” Party has it.

Cougar Pawlitics – Shane Smith

Full of youth and ambition, Shane Smith said the fact that senators are required to hold regular town hall meetings with their constituents. Pointing out that this has not been happening, he wants to bring these meetings back.

He said he believes that SGA currently is not representing and working for the students. Smith’s platform outlines what he believes are the three biggest issues on campus: the cost of living on campus, parking and safety service promotion.

Smith said he does not see the fact that he is a freshman as an obstacle. He believes it can be a benefit because it would allow him to run for more terms, providing an opportunity for SGA to see some consistency and continuity with leadership, which we saw with Bandoh’s two-term administration.

Smith said he also believes Facebook and Twitter are simply not enough to communicate with students; SGA needs to physically go out and talk to students.

What seems to be a weak point for Cougar Pawlitics is the lack of immediate recognition, and we will see if that changes during the time up until elections.

“I’m here on campus all the time,” Smith said. “I know SGA. I know what’s broken.”

REDvolution – Charles Haston

The REDvolution party has been around the longest, having been successful in the past few elections. Vice presidential candidate Erica Tat provides a strong hold for the party.

Student body presidential candidate Charles Haston brings plenty of confidence coming into the election, and said that he has a strong, established relationship with administrators. Haston said he would be able to focus more on improving the state of academic advising, increasing the budget for student programming and collaborating with administrators to reach Tier One status in all categories.

Haston said he believes REDvolution can focus on student concerns because it already has an established connection with University administration. Although immediate results won’t always be seen, Haston believes in making sure future administrations see the continuation of leadership already seen in Bandoh’s leadership.

Haston is currently involved in many SGA initiatives and said he and his party are strong collaborators, explaining why REDvolution has proven leadership. This level of confidence can be good or bad for the party, depending on how students perceive it.

Because he shares the same party as Bandoh, Haston says this will “not be a new administration. This is a continuation.”

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

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