Nerren and Joseph dispute issues
SBP candidates hash our university solutions in final debate
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 01:02
Facing a crowd full of people dressed in “Gig ‘em with Garret” and “Rowdy for Reid” T-shirts, Student Body President candidates Garrett Nerren and Reid Joseph participated in their second and final debate Monday night.
The debate, which took place at the George Bush Library theater, brought about candidates’ opinions and plans of action on issues such as the University’s “25 by 25” initiative, veteran affairs and Vision 2020, the administration’s plan to evolve A&M into a land, sea and space grant institution of global preeminence.
Both candidates had similar values and goals, but each proposed a different means to reach them.
When election commissioner and mediator Allison Krenzien, senior biomedical sciences major, asked about the 25 by 25 initiative, both candidates expressed a need to bolster communications with the student body. Nerren focused on communicating the administration’s decisions to increase growth and its effect on the student body and student government whereas Joseph focused on taking concerns of students to the administration.
Nerren said there needs to be transparency in SGA and that he would work to ensure students are made aware of the changes from the very beginning. He said communication is also important to make sure student government handles the expected growth well.
“I think one thing that we can do to make sure that student government continues down this excellent path we’ve gone down is to continue to market and to market well,” Nerren said. “Students don’t necessarily know what student government is doing for them even though it is doing all of these good things.”
Joseph said it is important to heed the concerns of students, such as the growing concern about the increasing quantity of students hurting the quality of education. He said in this case, the student government can make sure the number of applicants applying still ensures a high standard of education.
“We take the concerns of the student body and bring them to administration,” Joseph said. “This is something we need to make sure of.”
When asked how they plan to assist the veterans at A&M, both candidates expressed the intent to create a position of vice president for veteran relations. Nerren said in this position, the only job is to go between the Corps and the student government.
“Stuff like [priority registration] are these little things that we can give these people who have served for our country or are going to serve our country to make life here at Texas A&M a little easier for them,” Nerren said.
Joseph, however, said his cabinet would reach out to the veteran’s office at A&M, which is underfunded — despite its constant growth each semester. In addition, Reid said the realization of BUILD 13, a campus-wide project in planning for build a home for a financially disadvantaged family, would provide a good outlet for veterans who feel disconnected from normal student activities.
“We are very excited about all our veteran relations in the upcoming year,” Joseph said.
In regards to Vision 2020, both candidates stressed the importance of helping administration by opening up communication with students. Joseph elaborated by saying the communication needs to be between the students and SBP as well as the SBP and administration.
“In regards to what the student government can do to help further this goal, it has to be about communication,” Joseph said. “[It’s about] making sure that we as the student government have the relationship with the administration and with the students on campus to ensure that what is best for the students and ultimately for Texas A&M is being done.”
Nerren said in regards to Vision 2020 that a construction needed to be communicated better to students. He wants to establish a traffic and construction text update much like Code Maroon that students can sign up for.
“Traffic is one of the biggest things people think about when they hear Vision 2020,” Nerren said. “Something they can hold on to is a traffic update.”
When left to answer the question of what crucial thing they wanted to be changed should they be elected, Nerren said he wanted to bridge the disconnect between the student body and the student government and reach tangible goals.
Joseph said he wants to see BUILD 2013 do what Aggie Bonfire did for past generations: unite a campus.
Junior agricultural systems management major, Brandon Behrens, said he felt the debate questions and responses of the students better addressed the actual role of the student body president.
"If I'm being completely honest, I think it is pretty even," Behrens said. "I feel like there were a lot of questions that both candidates felt the same on."