Candidates for SGA president, vice-president debate

Candidates+for+SGA+president%2C+vice-president+debate
SGA presidential/vice-presidential candidates Ike Ekeke, Jordan Locke, Stephen Bradshaw and Melissa Thompson answer questions from Cluster co-editor-in-chief Liz Bibb (center) in Tuesday night's debate at the Bear Rock Cafe. PHOTO BY SEAN KENNEDY/THE CLUSTER.

Candidates for SGA president and vice-president discussed the issues of their campaigns at the annual debate in the Bear Rock Cafe Tuesday evening.

The debate opened with introductions of the candidates from both tickets: Senators Jordan Locke and Ike Ekeke and Senators Stephen Bradshaw and Melissa Thompson. The candidates were given a chance to state their class year, major, hometown and most important issue in their respective platforms. Both tickets emphasized their interest in “making Mercer better.”

Trenton White and Shannon Giddens, the current SGA president and vice president, then asked a series of questions to both tickets.

The first question asked both tickets about how they would handle over-programming of student organizations on campus. Locke and Bradshaw both expressed a commitment to preserving the diversity of organizations while continuing to be able to fund them.

The candidates were then asked what they would do to continue the green initiative that has been started on campus with the recent approval of a university-wide recycling program.

“We want to take smaller steps to reach our big green goals,” Bradshaw said. Bradshaw also said solar panels would be worth considering if they were financially feasible.

Locke replied that he and Ekeke had researched the possibility of solar panels, and they were not feasible.

The candidates also disagreed on the issue of blackouts in non-residence hall buildings on campus as a way to save on power costs. Bradshaw proposed nighttime blackouts in academic buildings, while Locke suggested a “blackout day” to raise awareness among students, citing a concern that a full-blown blackout might make students feel unsafe when walking across campus.

The two tickets responded to the question of how they would balance their current responsibilities with the responsibilities they would inherit if they win the election by citing their time-management skills gained through their experience with SGA and its related committees.

“I will make the time to make a difference,” Locke said.

Each ticket continuously stressed its commitment to change on campus.

“If we as SGA take a stance of complacency, then I don’t think anything will happen. If we’re not growing, we’re shrinking,” Bradshaw said.

Locke said, however, that progressive change does not always mean eliminating existing programs or infrastructures and creating new ones, but often means improving the existing ones.

After answering the questions raised by Senator White and Senator Giddens, the candidates turned to questions posed by audience members, one of which addressed the issue of personal values versus proposed changes for the university.

Both tickets said that while their personal values are important to them, they would not allow those values to impede in any way on what is best for the university.

“These things are part of us. We can’t just ask someone to put them aside, but we must ask if we can use them to come together and make a difference,” Ekeke said.

Voting for president and vice-president begins in Connell Student Center tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Students can also vote online using SGA’s electronic voting system.

For a minute-by-minute update of Tuesday’s debate, check out The Cluster’s live blogging form the event here.