In an election where the majority of the executive council candidates are running unopposed, the Feb 15 executive council debate served as a forum for candidates to explain their platforms to a small audience.
Many candidates included reminders to vote despite most positions being unopposed, as the voter turnout last year was 12%. Voting will be open Feb. 22 at 8 a.m. on Blazernet and close at 8 a.m. the following day.
Only the president and vice president of communications positions have more than one candidate running. You can use the list below to skip to debates you want to read about.
- Executive Vice President
- Vice President of Communications
- Vice President of Student Affairs
- Vice President of Finance
The presidential candidates both focused on communication between USGA and the student body as a major issue, much like the candidates from last year’s election.
Ritika Samant is a junior majoring in neuroscience and public health and the current vice president of student services. Her platform focuses on restructuring, sustainability and an applet within the UAB app that gives updates about what USGA is doing.
Hannah Syed is a junior majoring in public health and biology and is a current senator for the College of Arts and Sciences. Her platform revolves around using existing structures within USGA.
Samant said as president she would focus on a “realistic” plan to address structural issues within USGA.
“While I love sweeping reform and change, I also understand from my time and what I’ve grown to learn is that is not really realistic,” Samant said. “We can’t solve every problem and that’s why platform focuses on addressing the root cause of a lot of USGA issues that I think we need to really tackle.”
This would include revamping the USGA website to include meeting minutes from senate and committee meetings, as well as minutes from her meetings with admin if elected.
Syed said she plans to utilize the methods USGA already has.
“I would utilize what USGA already has, their website as well as their social media. I would also, through the initiatives and the platform that I currently have, make sure that is publicized and use communication through those outlets to reach the student body,” Syed said.
Both candidates spoke of having regular town halls and Samant said she intends to regularly survey the student body to find out what they want.
An audience member asked the candidates what they have done with the power afforded by them in their current position to accomplish their goals, or why haven’t they been able to in the past year.
Samant said the root causes haven’t been addressed and plans to have a “legislation bootcamp” for senators to learn how USGA runs since that’s where most initiatives come from.
“A lot of that hasn’t been done up until this point because we haven’t adequately taught a lot of the members of USGA how to do what they need to do,” Samant said.
Samant said she is also working with a “downsized student services division,” but they have still worked through programming as much as possible.
Syed said she has noticed redundancy and repetition and communication issues, preventing the amount of initiatives being able to be put out.
Executive Vice President
Unopposed executive vice presidential candidate Kyle Adams, a sophomore majoring in political science and current CAS senator and vice chairperson of the senate, has a platform with three parts. He plans to advocate for inclusivity in USGA, provide internal support through restructuring the transition process and to participate in external advocacy on behalf of students.
He also intends to increase the stipend for USGA members to match an expected increase in accountability and initiatives.
“We’re paying senators and compensating them to make sure they’re doing the work they’re supposed to do,” Adams said.
Vice President of Communications
The vice president of communications candidates focused their debate on how they plan to rectify the failures of the communications division in executive council.
Marcus Curry Jr., a sophomore political science major and current CAS senator has a platform focusing on three pillars. These include student empowerment and advancement, campus unity and community, and the individual student experience.
Jonathan Baker, a junior majoring in public health and current senator for the School of Public Health said he would bring his experience in USGA to the communications division and intends to collaborate with other student organizations.
Curry intends to be recruit students to work with USGA to be a voice of students and let them know what USGA is doing.
“I would take my position as an opportunity to bring in students who have the talent on campus and who are not comfortable in the government of our students,” Curry said. “We have so many students who are capable of doing social media, doing graphics, of being photographers, of being videographers and they are afraid of USGA. USGA is not a social club, it is for all of the students.”
Curry also said he will hold committees accountable for their meeting minutes being published.
“If they don’t share their minutes it’s going to be stated that they’re not submitting their minutes because students deserve to know what’s going on,” Curry said.
Baker said he will have regular meetings within the division with other areas of student government and will be “refortifying” the social media platforms.
“The main goal is to be a better voice for students, especially with admin,” Baker said.
Curry’s goal under his individual student experience pillar is to create “resume worthy opportunities” for students.
Baker rebutted, saying USGA already provides those experiences with events.
“With everything in life, you get what you put into it,” Baker said. “If you’re in senate or you’re in council and you’re not actively participating in this or you’re not wanting to, you’re not going to get out of it what you need to get out of it.”
In Curry’s response he said students don’t know about opportunities. He cited that there are not enough candidates running to fill all positions. “There is a failure in some type of communication because there are students on this entire campus and you’re telling me they’re not aware?” Curry said. “We have to do our job to make sure students are informed.”
Vice President of Student Affairs
Eunice Choe, unopposed candidate for vice president of student services, is a junior majoring in chemistry and current CAS senator. She has three pillars focusing on fostering collaboration, improving on and expanding events and the health of students and campus.
Vice President of Finance
Vice president of financial affairs candidate John Ellis Kuykendall is a junior majoring in business administration and neuroscience running unopposed. He plans to create a position within the division of finance to serve as a bridge to student organizations and assist in the budget request and reimbursement processes.