SBP candidates push ideals
Downplay Corps, Greek contrast as campaign issue
Published: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 02:02
Candidates for student body president, Reid Joseph and Garrett Nerren, fielded prepared and spontaneous questions at the first debate of campaigning Tuesday night in the MSC Flag Room. Kyle Field, student fees and the role of student government were the main topics of conversation.
When asked about the topic of mandatory student fees, Nerren responded by asking the audience whether they knew what the University Advancement Fee was. A small portion of students raised their hands before Nerren himself admitted to only recently learning about the fee.
"The university advancement fee is a cluster fee and most of the time students have no idea what the different components are for,” Nerren said. “But we want to make this information available to students by being approachable."
Joseph said the University Advancement Fee can be a helpful resource to cover the University’s expenses, including the renovation of the student section of Kyle Field.
"We, without a doubt, support the renovation of Kyle Field. The architects have said that it is a disaster waiting to happen and it has to be fixed as soon as possible, not just for safety but also for return of investment,” Jospeh said. “From an outsider’s perspective Texas A&M football comes first and foremost and the students should also play a part in this initiative."
Nerren said he doesn’t want to see an unnecessary rise in student fees because of the multi-million dollar renovation project.
"I want to keep things low, but let's face it, this project is going to require millions of dollars and I think we have to face the facts that a slight increase in the fees is something the students will have to deal with," Nerren said.
Although Joseph and Nerren rarely addressed one another, the two candidates disagreed on at least one topic during the debate.
While Nerren said there is a disconnect between SGA and the student body, Joseph “respectfully disagreed,” saying SGA is perceived well by students.
“Who doesn’t love Carpool, Big Event, Aggie Muster?” Joseph said. “All these are under SGA. The budget of the SGA is just $50,000, and you get all these events at just about $1 per student. SGA is doing a lot for students and we will continue to do that.”
Nerren said the average student might not be able to recall anything specific student government has done for them.
“Student body president is a student-elected position,” Nerren said. “We want people to be involved in the government and we want to make the student government association transparent and better communicate with the students about the issues they are facing.”
Joseph said the governing side of student government has room for improvement.
“We will be more effective at communicating with students so that we are representing the student body, which is the number one responsibility of the student government,” Joseph said.
John Cowen, sophomore mechanical engineering major, said the relationship between student government and the A&M administration is unclear.
"After this debate I am definitely going to look into how much of a say the student government has in getting things done in the University and then base my voting decision on that analysis," Cowen said.
The two SBP candidates come from different organizational backgrounds — Joseph from the Corps of Cadets, Nerren from Greek Life. However, when asked during the debate, both candidates downplayed the difference in their organizations, saying each campaign was made up of people from both the Corps and Greek Life.
Garrett made light of the situation, jokingly asking Joseph if he was in the Corps, and Joseph said that a candidate from either background could effectively serve the student body.
One student said their affiliations might not affect the result of the election.
"I think the people that aren't in [the Corps or Greek life] will be the deciding factor," said Brittany Nutting, sophomore kinesiology major.
Junior business major Sydney Roberts said it was interesting to see the interaction between the candidates.
“I think that they both had a positive perspective — neither was attacking the other,” Roberts said. “They both did a really good job. I wouldn't say that one candidate right now did better than the other."
Roberts said the next debate has potential to have more back-and-forth interaction between the candidates.
“I think this time candidates were trying to share with the audience what they are about and what their campaign is about," Roberts said.