The SGA candidates faced off at the 2012 SGA Election Debate on Wednesday. With the purpose and processes of SGA being questioned by some students, the candidates shared their thoughts on the concerns and needs of the student body along with their platforms for the upcoming spring semester in office.
The candidates running in the election will only be in office for the spring semester, Michael Dabbs, parliamentarian for the House of Representatives said. This will be the only term that lasts one semester and is a result of legislation passed by SGA last November to move the terms from a calendar year to an academic year.
With the latest events that have unfolded around the $50,000 bronze Super Frog statue, the presidential debate began with the candidates' heated discussion on the controversial subject.
Both candidates presented their stance on the Cabinet’s initiative on the statue and then continued to present their future plans for the presidency.
SGA President Brent Folan stood by his position that the Cabinet approved the statue. While his opponent, Joshua Simpson, current SGA vice president for operations, said the recorded minutes showed there was no vote taken on the bronze statue on April 9.
Simpson said both candidates should instead move past the statue. Folan agreed and said the problem had been solved and the new legislation passed by the House was another way to improve SGA.
Both candidates finalized the issue by agreeing that the focus should be on the improvements for the future.
Folan said he would have two big projects, one that would implement a plan to track parking spot availability through smart phones as well as the inclusion of voting a student to be represented in the board of trustees' decisions.
Simpson said he would oversee the construction of the student memorial, work for a new student scantron proposal and shape SGA culture to be a place where students can voice their opinions either through an open forum or town hall meeting.
While both presented future plans for office, they also reflected on their past experience in SGA.
Folan said he accomplished several projects during his term. These projects include student tailgating, the new ZipCar program, the Ice Dispenser- Pilot Program which began in Clark Hall last semester and is now planned to be used in new residence halls opening in Fall 2013 as well as raising the number of free prints back to 200, which he will continue to work on increasing.
Among other initiatives is the establishment of the student creed, the inauguration of the Presidential Summit which invited former Student Body Presidents back to campus and his strong relationships with presidents in the Big 12 schools.
Simpson recognized his term as vice president of operations through his work in leading the Student Memorial project and the scantron proposal which will provide all forms of scantrons and blue books to students at no cost starting next semester.
His other initiatives include the TCU Student Body Survey, his involvement with the Campus Advancement Committee which worked to preserve student space in the union, initiate Student Creed photos for the BLUU, increase swiping limit for vending machines to $1.25, represent SGA in Greek Village Housing discussions, and his creation of SGA’s first marketing plan.
The university’s biggest problem, according to Folan was the communication between all organizations. He said the he wanted to make sure SGA was “plugged in” and working with the organizations. Programs like Frogs First helped remind students that they have a connection beyond an organization by being horned frogs first, he said.
As for Simpson he said he hoped to change the culture of SGA to be a transparent, inclusive and effective organization that focused on meaningful contributions to campus.
“The issues for TCU and the future are not going to be about buildings, they’re not going to be about athletics, they’re probably not going to be academics,” he said. “They’re going to be social issues that we have to protect the culture of the university.”
Vice President for External Affairs
Candidates for vice president of external affairs Evan Folan and Graham McMillan both concentrated on their agreed efforts to have more communication among student organizations.
Both candidates presented their plans to ensure that they maintained communication with outside organizations.
Folan, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, presented a three-point plan aimed to create clear communication between SGA and outside organizations, increase student attendance at athletic events and seek advice from SGA representatives at other Big 12 schools to follow some of their initiatives.
“I just want to make sure that the students’ voices are heard,” he said.
McMillan, a junior political science major, opted for a plan to have a direct line between SGA and outside organizations by having an SGA representative present at the meetings of student organizations that felt underrepresented.
He continued and said his past experience and completion of the goals set at the beginning of his term were accomplished.
“I brought the city to TCU, I worked with local businesses in the Chamber of Commerce and I’ve brought student voices to the administration,” McMillan said.
When asked if there was any concern about both the Folan brothers running for office, both candidates agreed there was no concern at all.
McMillian responded that both brothers are different and that they complement each other.
Folan agreed by saying, “We have the same last name but we are completely different people."
Vice President for Operations
Candidates for vice president for operations David Belpedio and Lauren Sharp emphasized the need to establish better connections with the student body.
Belpedio, a junior finance major and current treasurer, said he has three objectives he would address if elected. He would enhance the SGA website, develop relations with TCU student media and update SGA’s social media websites.
These objectives would ensure the communication between the student body and SGA, he said.
Sharp, a junior entrepreneurial management and marketing double major, said she prioritized students' concerns. She said she planned to have more open and translucent communication between SGA and the student body.
Among other initiatives, Sharp, the current Student Experience Committee Chair said she would plan to install printers in residence halls and expand the scantron program to offer free blue books.
Both candidates looked to having an online source as the student’s way to be informed and up to date with the latest SGA projects and events.
Cody Westphal, a sophomore business major, is the candidate for treasurer and is the only position running unopposed.
Westphal said his main concern was the inclusion of students in the ways SGA spends money.
“I think you have to take a holistic approach and just elicit feedback and talk to as many people as I possibly can," he said. “I want to get our representatives actually representing our students.”
To help involve students, he said he would set up tables, send out emails and personally talk to students to get their opinions on the ways their money should be spent.
“I think one of my jobs is to let everyone know how we’re spending it and then say how do you want to spend it,” he said.
Westphal’s experience in SGA includes his work on the Finance Committee this semester as well as the Activities Funding Board who allocates money to student organizations. He has also served in the House of Representatives for two semesters.
SGA elections will be held on Nov. 13. Students can vote on my.tcu.edu through the “Helpful Links” page.