The Student Senate candidates running to hold residential senator positions next school year addressed issues of living on and off campus Sunday in Scripps Hall.
Two senators from each green and six candidates running for off-campus senate positions gave their responses to four questions and talked about each ticket’s platform.
The candidates were first asked what the most important issue was for the students they would be representing and how they would address the dilemma. Many candidates said that safety is the number one issue for students living on campus and suggested improved lighting and accessibility to fix this.
However, Karen Opoku, running on the Impact ticket, said inclusion is the top issue for West Green because of the high population of athletes and international students. She recalled her time as an RA in Sargent Hall, where a Black Lives Matter bulletin board was vandalized. Opoku said that was when she became aware of the students’ needs for inclusion and diversity.
“The transition of living on campus to having to live off campus is something that’s difficult,” Paige Wilson, UNITE East Green senator candidate, said.
The off-campus candidates responded similarly to this question with safety being their biggest concern as well. However, their focus was on transportation and student debt.
The second question that the candidates were asked was how they could stay connected to their constituents. The on-campus candidates running on the UNITE ticket pushed their “speak” platform, which involves opening communication between students and senate by having a larger social media presence and streamlining all email addresses.
Other candidates argued that developing a better relationship with RAs in residence halls would bring about a better connection.
Similarly, the off-campus candidates stressed the importance of streamlining email addresses. Jack Davies, running on the UNITE ticket, suggested filming Senate meetings to make students become more involved in the process. Erin Franczak, running on the UNITE ticket, pitched the idea of a newsletter and better Twitter presence. Many candidates also suggested getting out of the office and going to talk to students about what they would like to see from Senate.
The third question differed between the two groups. On-campus candidates were asked about how the Master Plan would affect residential living, and off-campus candidates were asked how they plan to help students with housing problems.
Almost all the on-campus candidates answered that gender-neutral bathrooms would enhance the residential living experience and the plan would make the campus more interconnected.
“Athens has this image of being the greatest place on Earth,” Hayden Novosel, UNITE West Green candidate, said. “I think that we should continue to push toward that image.”
Many off-campus senator candidates said they would want to work with City Council, the city of Athens and the university to improve transportation. Noah Hajivandi said the Impact ticket has plans for a landlord database to make them accountable for housing situations.
The final question for both groups touched on the issue of diversity. All of the candidates agreed that racism, sexism and homophobia are issues the university faces. Many of them said they would choose to combat these issues by educating students as soon as they set foot on campus at Bobcat Student Orientation.
UNITE candidates touched on their plans for a task force that could bring people together from different backgrounds to educate others. Impact said they know how to talk about social justice issues and reach out to students.