Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

SGA hosts Presidential/Vice Presidential debate


SGA held its annual presidential and vice presidential debate on Monday, Apr. 22 in the Gävle rooms. Present were running mates Neleigh Rush and Tsion Nigate along with running mates Kelly Moore and Izzy Blanford. The Augustana community was invited to sit in on the debate via an email sent to the student body containing a link to join the meeting virtually. 

The debate was moderated by Mariano Magalhães, a professor of political science at Augustana. Voting will commence tomorrow at 8 a.m. and will close on Apr. 24 at 11:59 p.m. 

The debate started with opening statements, allowing both running mates to talk for 3 minutes. Rush and Nigate spoke first. 

“Addressing pressing issues such as campus housing, admissions, mental health supports and well-being of international students,” Nigate said. “Our ultimate goal is to empower every student and ensure they feel supported and able to thrive. We’re passionate about encouraging active participation in our SGA committee.”

Following Rush and Nigate, Moore and Blanford gave their opening statement. 

“We are advocating five points for our platform, which includes amplifying student voices, sustainability and safety measures across campus, small infrastructure and mental health and well-being,” Moore said. “The most important thing with this campaign is that we want to make sure that all voices are heard.”   

Vice President and Dean of Student Life, Wes Brooks, asked both running mates about their leadership styles and how they plan to balance the goals and initiatives they have. Presidential candidate Moore responded first. 

“For starters, I have held a lot of positions on campus when it comes to leadership. I’ve learned how to balance my time. I’ve been a peer mentor, I’ve also been in SGA for the past 3 years along with a social sorority and a service group on campus,” Moore said. “All those positions and roles have taught me how to balance my time. I’ve been able to develop communication skills and [was] able to fully communicate with people within those groups in a timely manner.”

Presidential candidate Rush said it was important to her that she and fellow running mate Nigate offered transparency to the student body.

“Tsion and I’s platform is based on transparency through all the things we are working on,” Rush said. “We want to have public communication with all student groups and students that are affected by the policies that we are trying to pass.”

Several questions were specifically directed towards Rush and Nigate or Moore and Blanford throughout the debate. President Andrea Talentino was present and asked how candidates would balance representing all students but also understanding the fact that only some students will be happy with the decisions made. 

Moore answered first and said communication is a crucial aspect of being the future SGA president or vice president. 

“We want to, of course, make sure that all student voices are heard and, of course, there are going to be times where [people] are maybe not happy about the decision or ending of specific things that may happen,” Moore said. “There may be different recommendations that we may get in the future. There may be some issues where we can’t achieve that yet. The most important thing is that we still stay closely connected with them. We hear their voices.” 

Nigate followed after Moore’s reply. 

“We would like to address the issue by obviously being transparent to the students and explain to them why that decision was made. In addition, being available to hear their concerns and answer their questions,” Nigate said. 

Several other questions were brought up regarding the candidates’ platforms, followed by questions from the audience. 

The debate ended with closing statements from both candidates. Blanford spoke first. 

“So, to review, we’re going to strive to amplify student voices and advocate for students here at Augie. Through each of the five sections of our platform, we thoroughly considered the community of students here on campus,” Blanford said. 

Rush followed with her closing statement. 

“Overall, Tsion and I have the experience and passion to be great SGA President and Vice President,” Rush said. “We have the specific goals that we want to accomplish, but most importantly we want to make sure that the student voices are heard and we are making those changes on campus.”

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