By: Staff Editorial
This year’s Student Government Association (SGA) election brings changes to the voting process and the Newswire’s method of endorsing a ticket. In prior years, students have a full semester to prepare for the election season and typically choose from a pool of two or more SGA tickets. This year, the Newswire staff met with the sole ticket running for the SGA executive positions. Similar to previous years, the editorial staff conducted a thorough review of the candidates’ credentials and proposals. This editorial will provide a grading rubric for how the staff evaluated the candidates’ platform ideas. The opinions expressed by the Newswire do not reflect the thoughts of any one staff member, but are the result of an evaluation by four editors based on a predetermined score system. With the shortened campaign period, the Newswire staff hopes students take the time to read the candidates’ proposals and vote in this year’s election.
The executive ticket consists of Caleb Mickler, Michael Quigley and Kiana Salazar running for president, legislative vice president and administrative vice president, respectively. During the interview, Caleb- Quigley-Kiana (CQK) presented its ideas in a collaborative fashion. Even though Salazar was absent from the interview process due to a prior conflict, Mickler and Quigley worked well as a team presenting the ticket’s proposals.
Mickler adeptly handled questions that pertained to Xavier’s Jesuit heritage and ways the campus should integrate this heritage into its relationship with the surrounding communities. Quigley spoke well on Residence Life issues and how the ticket wants to reform the way SGA Senate interacts with the student body. Even with Salazar’s absence, the ticket reflected her wishes well and assured the editorial staff that she is an active member of the group. The editorial staff hopes that the ticket will develop a stronger presidential presence. The current dynamic did not convey clearly who the ticket’s president would be.
Compared to prior election cycles, CQK’s platform is quite small. The ticket did talk at length about their proposals and, they have credible contacts in the administration that will be necessary in order to enact their ideas. Their platform discusses issues from prior campaigns, like increasing student involvement, implementing a new shuttle service and ensuring that SGA is more transparent. CQK stressed that its platform works well when students increase their engagement with SGA. The editorial staff believed that this approach is noteworthy and may create change if enacted properly during an SGA term.
However, the editorial staff noted that the platform did not provide much information on the ideas presented. For several talking points, CQK did not present detailed information on how their ideas can be implemented. For example, the platform includes the idea of freezing tuition for each student at his or her first-year rate. However, there was a clear lack of substance regarding how CQK would enact this point in light of Xavier’s budget deficit.
Various aspects of the platform were notably creative and unique. For instance, the platform included an initiative requiring SGA Senators to attend the meetings of campus clubs and organizations in order to remain in touch with the needs and concerns of students. The ticket also expressed a desire to find ways to survey student opinions on SGA initiatives and share with students how their money is being allocated and spent. They also suggested holding certain Senate meetings in public spaces. Some other creative ideas were “graduation incentives,” or a physical marker that each graduating class will leave on campus to commemorate its time at Xavier, and the abolition of student-conduct-violation fines in favor of community cleanup hours.
In spite of this, the platform contains several ideas that cannot be properly implemented in their current state. CQK’s platform also discusses multiple issues that have been proposed and rejected by past SGA tickets. SGA platforms in the past have continually addressed issues like shuttles, food venues, extended building hours, parking and printing. Once in office, SGA officers are met with stringent budget restrictions and an administration that is struggling to find extra revenue for certain academic interests, let alone extra campus features for students. Several times during the interview, the editorial staff questioned CQK about budgetary and logistic issues that have stymied these common platform points in the past.
In the case of their idea to integrate the Avondale, Evanston and Norwood communities into the “Xavier bubble,” the ticket demonstrated an inadequate knowledge of current initiatives along these lines. CQK did not present a clear vision for how issues such as scholarship inflation or ways to reform Canvas for student use could be solved by SGA. Also, the ticket did not present funding models for any of the ideas discussed in the interview.
The Newswire staff was underwhelmed with the professionalism of the ticket compared to tickets in past years. Namely, the ticket did not have a platform prepared until the weekend before voting begins, and the platform released was unclearly worded and contained many errors. It appeared that the candidates had not met with many administrators to discuss the details and feasibility of platform points. The ticket’s presidential candidate left halfway through the annual SGA debate to attend a meeting.
On the other hand, the candidates were unfailingly kind and straightforward during the interview process. It seemed that all three of them genuinely care about improving student government and enhancing the Xavier community. Although their plans were nebulous, the ticket’s desire to make SGA more accessible and improve the university’s relationship with surrounding neighborhoods shined through.
Despite its status as the only official ticket and the sudden departure of the presidential candidate during the forum, CQK addressed with integrity a wide array of issues, ranging from problems with SGA dormancy to methods of increasing voter participation. The latter was thoroughly discussed throughout the night as CQK continually emphasized its position on student and senator involvement.
“There has been an issue with dormancy within the Senate and being more present as an organization,” Quigley said. “We feel as though it’s been easy to skate along as a senator, and we really want to light that fire to pull more student opinion.” The joint effort of Quigley and Kiana established the need for an active student government, driving home CQK’s stance on SGA transparency in the process.
“Our meetings are open-forum and students don’t really know that,” Kiana said. “We want to make it apparent that students can come to us directly and give us feedback, particularly on spending. We are here for you. We’re not closed off.”
Despite the questionable feasibility of their proposed projects, CQK demonstrated passion and preparedness throughout the debate. Students can vote for CQK or write-in tickets at xavier.edu/election starting at 8 a.m. Oct. 21.