SGA Presidential Debate Highlights Inclusion, Accusations and Having A Voice

By: Ethan Smith

The SGA Presidential candidates for the upcoming school year held their first debate of two on the Armstrong campus Monday, April 1 and numerous topics and issues were brought to mind throughout the debate.

SGA has three candidates for its presidential position this year, Keyshawn Housey, Zean Lopez and Juwan Smith, who were introduced in our election story.

Questions were asked by moderator Sean Miller to begin the debate.

Question one asked why the candidates felt they were qualified for the presidency.

“I see the ins-and-outs of this organization[SGA],” said candidate Smith. “Through running various organizations on campus, I have previous and current experience with leadership and want to bring that leadership to SGA.”

“I have done so much for all three campuses,” said candidate Housey. “I want to continue to serve the campuses and the students.”

“Through meetings with the College of Engineering, I have learned how to facilitate change,” said candidate Lopez. “I want to be able to do that with SGA through various projects.”

Question two asked the candidates about their biggest prospective projects.

“Recognizing various groups on campus and creating diversity is my biggest prospective project. I want to unite the students,” said candidate Smith.

“I plan on attending a class here[Armstrong],” said candidate Housey. “I want to do that so I can hear the concerns of students on this campus and at Liberty. I am here to give the students what they want.”

“Completing 50 projects with 50 different students is my prospective goal as president,” said candidate Lopez.

Arguably the biggest opening question came here, when moderator Miller asked the candidates what they thought was the biggest issue right now at Georgia Southern.

“Graduation,” said candidate Smith. “Locations of graduation need to be fixed and implementing a task force would be great to resolve this issue. It needs to be addressed.”

“The Hinesville[Liberty] campus has absolutely no voice,” said candidate Housey. “I am going to make sure they have a voice and feel empowered. The Armstrong campus has absolutely no sense of community and the Statesboro campus has a racism issue, and I plan to fix all of those issues to create a unified university.”

“The lack of communication between the three campuses is troubling,” said candidate Lopez. “As president, I want to know the justification as to why certain policies only adhere to certain campuses as well.”

As the debate shifted to the Q&A portion, where an interesting topic arose from Brian Kohler, an active senator in SGA.

Kohler pinpointed candidate Lopez and asked how he can effectively lead SGA after making advances towards female senators who were uncomfortable with those advances.

“I can lead SGA with the same confidence as I have before,” said candidate Lopez. “As far as the behavior you are accusing me of, my professional background should not come together with my personal background.”

This obviously caused tension within the room, with SGA Speaker Tyack telling Lopez to “Answer the question and stop avoiding it.” Lopez reacted, “I will answer to the person who asked the question.”

These accusations have not been explored in more detail by The Inkwell at this time, so we do not know the severity or plausibility of the actions from candidate Lopez.

As the debate continued, a question arose from the crowd asking why an Armstrong or Liberty campus student should vote for each candidate, who are all three from Statesboro.

“Being humble and hearing their concerns is most important,” said candidate Smith. “Implementing a voice on all three campuses will create a family.”

“Those campuses feel as if they have no power,” said candidate Housey. “Being powerless isn’t fun. Being powerless isn’t fun,” he continued. “I want to give them power. As your prospective president, I want to give them a voice.”

“I am willing to spend time on all three campuses because I am curious to know everyone and their concerns,” said candidate Lopez.

The candidates will once again debate on the Statesboro campus on Wednesday, April 3 after their SGA meeting.