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Uncontested candidates discuss campus affinity, safety at SGA forum

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On Thursday, The DePaulia interviewed SGA’s executive position candidates. Uncontested cabinet candidates Andrew Willet (EVP for Student Affairs), Michael Greene (EVP for Academic Affairs), Adriana Kemper (EVP for Operations) and Omar Escamilla (Treasurer) attended, as well as vice presidential candidate Megan Scoville. Presidential candidate Ric Popp was unable to attend the forum.

Candidates shared their initiatives and answered questions. Common topics through the interviews included campus affinity and public safety.

On camera, Scoville explained her and Popp’s stance on inclusivity and collaboration.

“DePaul has more than 300 student organizations and each of them has a unique purpose and mission on campus. We believe that there’s never enough collaboration between those organizations,” she said.

To increase affinity, Scoville emphasized that sports could unite students.

“We are very supportive of DePaul’s various athletic teams,” she said. “We would like to see more students get involved by going to those games, making it more known when those games are and sponsoring events like that. I think athletics is a great way to get people really invested in DePaul.”

Additionally, Scoville reiterated their stance of “SGA as an advocate” and thirdly, the importance of educational affordability and resources.

“It’s important that every DePaul student is able to have a good experience, and sometimes financial things can get in the way of that,” she said.

As President and Vice President, Scoville said she and Popp would keep in mind that “we can not take our own opinions and our own beliefs as those of everybody at the university.”

“We both recognize that we need to listen to those around us: we can’t speak for them unless we’re hearing them and relaying those concerns, even if they differ from our own,” she said. “I think that makes us very much qualified for this position.”

Vying for EVP for Academic Affairs, Greene also mentioned the importance of educational affordability. His other two initiatives are campus affinity and inclusivity, and “making sure that the students, faculty, and administration have a way they can talk directly to one another,” he said.

Kemper’s top three initiatives focus on public safety, sustainability and developing more campus affinity. Kemper is running to keep the EVP for Operations position for a second year.

“I know the people to contact, I know the different issues on campus, I understand how the whole process works and the time constraints and how to set up events,” she said. “It’s a learning tide…I can be a lot more effective next year.”

For public safety, Kemper wants to “develop a comprehensive safety tips campaign.” Though the only campaign to explicitly name it as a top initiative, other candidates had things to say about public safety.

“The University really values SGA’s voice; specifically, the EVP of Operations position works very closely with public safety to relay those concerns,” Scoville said. “SGA has a very specific role where we need to be identifying specific concerns or specific instances and asking directly of the administration, ‘What are you doing to make sure this does not happen again?’ ‘What steps are you taking, and what can we do as official student representatives to help you in the process of making sure this doesn’t happen again?’”

“Especially in this climate we’re having right now, one way we can work with administration to have a positive change on here around campus is in the area of public safety,” Greene said.

In regards to controversy surrounding the College Republican’s decision to sponsor Milo Yiannopoulos’ arrival on DePaul’s campus, the candidates emphasized that they would not take a hard stance on one side or the other. Students have called for the university to prevent Yiannopoulos — who is known for divisive rhetoric — from speaking, and others have rallied in support.

“I would say student government’s stance is we are going to be a resource for students to come to if they feel they need to talk about something or something offended them,” Willet said. “We are more than happy to be there for them and direct them to the right areas, offices, and resources that the university provides to deal with some of those issues.”

Scoville also said that SGA should not take a strong activist role in order to ensure all voices are represented.

“I think SGA takes the stance of ‘we serve as the official liaison between students and administration, so we are always doing what we can to relay those messages to the administration,” she said. “There is a balance between recognizing that we do need to take a stance on some important issues, but at the same time, we can’t take too strong of a stance where we’re excluding some of the 24,000 students that we represent, because we represent everybody. And we want to make sure we’re taking that seriously.”

“I believe in the freedom of speech,” Willet said.

Greene also said that, “SGA definitely plays a role into how the classroom environment happens with students and faculty…There is a fine line between hate speech and giving your voice.”

SGA has made constant efforts to allow and grow the public course evaluation program across colleges.

“CDM students have had course evaluations for over 10 years, and it has worked to really have accountability and evaluations for our teachers,” said Greene, who currently serves as Senator for the College of Computing and Digital Media. “We just recently got the honors program to implement course evaluations, and I think that we are going to push for the colleges that don’t have the course evaluations.”

Escamilla, who transferred to DePaul this year, focuses his campaign on working with scholarships, SAF-B and educational affordability. He wants to continue current Treasurer Damien Wille’s work with Scholarship Connect and “ensure all students are aware of scholarships,” he said.

In terms of SGA budget transparency, he said that “every dollar matters.”

“Every quarter, the current treasurer shows the budget, and that’s available through the meetings that we have,” Escamilla said. “And the meetings are open to anyone, any student who wants to come in and see the budget.”

“There’s always room for improvement,” Scoville said.

Voting for SGA is open May 16 – 20.

 

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Uncontested candidates discuss campus affinity, safety at SGA forum