Opposing candidates unpack personal propositions to campus issues
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 01:02
"I want to serve" — a common ground between the two candidates running for student body president.
Garrett Nerren — the junior political science major fitted in his fresh suit and red tie — took a break as president of his fraternity to run for president of the student body.
Reid Joseph — the junior industrial distribution major wearing the cadet's uniform of formal tradition – is the academic chair of Squadron 17 in the Corps of Cadets and a third-generation Aggie.
Both candidates agree they want to increase communication between student government and the 50,000-member student body of Texas A&M — while Joseph wants to implement a new VP of community outreach, Nerren wants to be publicly present on campus once a week.
Where they differ, from representative attire to post-election plans, the two candidates have outlined goals and responses to the challenges that await the next student body president.
A key issue discussed during the 2013 election is the use of student fees. With the anticipated renovation of Kyle Field, there is debate over whether student fees should increase in an effort to partially fund the renovation.
Both candidates support an increase in mandatory student fees to help fund renovations to the east side of Kyle Field.
"From an outsider’s perspective, Texas A&M football comes first and foremost and the students should also play a part in this initiative," Joseph said. “If we didn’t raise student fees, then we would have major budget cuts from other areas supported by student fees."
Nerren said he wants student fees to be as low as possible, but understands that an increase in fees will be necessary with projects such as the Kyle Field renovation. Ultimately, Nerren said he will do what is best for students.
“I will do what the students think is best. I feel like an increase in fees is going to have to happen,” Nerren said. “We’re getting a ton of money from donors and alumni to pay for this, but I think that the students are going to have to play a role as well. As much as I want to keep student fees low, I think on certain topics we are going to have to bump that up a little bit.”
Plans for Student Government
If elected, Joseph said he wants to increase diversity within student government, specifically by building a cabinet with representatives from as many facets of campus as possible.
“I do assure and commit to making sure that we have the best people for the student body,” Joseph said. “And that means representative of the student body.”
If elected, Joseph said he plans to conduct an administration with transparency and accountability.
Nerren said he believes it is necessary to make an intentional effort to connect students and student government.
“I think personally that there is a kind of disconnect between the Student Government Association and the rest of the student body,” Nerren said. “I feel like students see SGA as this distant organization. Granted, it does do a lot of great things — things that students don’t necessarily know [are] done through SGA like Replant and Carpool. I think the biggest thing is the breakdown of communication.”
Both candidates said open and constructive communication between the student body president and Student Senate would be vital in creating the best possible solutions for the student body.
“It’s coming together to set aside some differences and work together to create a more unified SGA,” Joseph said. “I feel like that’s one of the things that we can always be improving on. When we don’t have a unified SGA, it’s really hurting the students.”
Though each candidate stressed the importance of maintaining a diverse cabinet and administration, the candidates have been asked how their organizational backgrounds at Texas A&M affect their candidacy for student body president.
“I am a Greek candidate, but this is not a Greek campaign,” Nerren said.
He said his campaign team is made up of people from several organizations across campus.
“People from many different walks of life at Texas A&M are a part of this campaign team and they are bringing their goals that their groups would like to see accomplished,” Nerren said.
Nerren said his involvement in other organizations such as Freshman Aggies Spreading Traditions and Interfraternity Council has allowed him to meet and interact with many people in different organizations. He said he believed it was important to connect to these Aggies individually.
“I enjoy meeting people on a one-on-one basis,” Nerren said. “One of my favorite parts of this campaign has been connecting with Aggies one-on-one, hearing their story and where they came from.”
Joseph said his time in the Corps of Cadets has greatly equipped him for the position of student body president.
“I do believe that my time in the Corps of Cadets has been something that has greatly prepared me,” Joseph said. “I believe that following is absolutely paramount before learning how to lead. We definitely learned how to follow. I think it’s a great learning process.”
While Joseph takes great pride in his membership in the Corps of Cadets, he said it will simply be one of the many important subsets of campus that will be represented by his administration.
“I obviously can’t hide it — I am a member of the Corps of Cadets. I’m proud of that.
But I realize that we’re 2,200 students. This [is a] 50,000-student University — that is a very, very small part of the University. That’s not our mission with this campaign, to simply represent the Corps of Cadets. Yes, we will be representing the Corps of Cadets, but we will also be representing the other groups on campus.”