Debate season finishes

By Jenna Duncan, News Staff

Voting for Student Government Association (SGA) began today on myNEU portal after current President Ryan Fox and Vice President for Academic Affairs Amanda Sabia were nominated to run for the position March 13.

The pair has actively campaigned since accepting nominations, they said, and have met publicly for three debates, have answered debate questions via Twitter and met with The News last night for final questions.

The second debate was hosted by the Inter-fraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council Thursday in the Freshman Quad. Several students asked questions about how Greek life would be affected, with both candidates supporting growth of advisors.

This debate was outside in the Freshman Quad, and held a larger crowd than the previous debate and even had students painted in red paint spelling out “FOX” on their stomachs.

The crowd was also vocal, booing at some of Fox’s answers. After being asked what their opponents biggest weakness was, Sabia said that though she running a positive campaign. However, she suggested she has better people skills than Fox, and would shake everyone’s hand in a room while he wouldn’t.

“I am not afraid to go up and talk to a person. I’m not afraid to go up and shake someone’s hand,” she said. “I truly don’t believe that if Mr. Fox was in a room with 50 people he would go up and shake every persons hand.”

Fox’s response solicited the booing after he said that Sabia’s campaign was negative because of slogans such as “We can do better.”

“Shaking hands hasn’t accomplished much in the past,” Fox said.

The final debate, hosted by Resident Student Association (RSA) in Curry Student Center West Addition on Tuesday night, included audience questions and Twitter and Facebook submitted questions only. The questions ranged from sustainability projects to allowing more pets in on-campus housing. While both candidates supported sustainability projects, they differed on pet policies, Fox said he liked the current policy but Sabia thought smaller animals like reptiles should be allowed.

In the interview with The News, issues not addressed in the debates arose.

Sabia said she felt the Student Recreation Fee should have been brought up, and is part of her platform. The fee was introduced in 2004 predominantly to go toward the building of a large stadium, which is not included in the school’s master plan.

Fox said that how this fee is allocated will be posted online in the next few weeks, and is an issue he has already addressed as president.

Both candidates wanted to stress their differences, and Sabia said rather than having a restrictive plan, she wants to ask students what their priorities are, and how SGA can help them.

“It’s one thing to tell a student about all the great things we’ve done,” Sabia said. “Where I differ from Mr. Fox is that I want to ask students where we need to go, I need to talk to students to ask them where we need to go and that’s a very, very important.”

After being president for a year, Fox said he already feels connected to the students.

“That response shows the difference in experience,” he said. “Students are expecting a president that can walk in with a plan of action, that can fix those issues, not developing as they go.”

Arising through the Facebook group “SGA Doesn’t Represent Me” the idea of increasing the “no confidence” has become an option. When students vote no confidence, it represents that they have no confidence in either candidate. If more than 50 percent of the votes cast are no confidence anyone, including Fox, Sabia and non-senators, can run. These candidates will then be voted on by the senate.

Both Fox and Sabia encouraged students voting no confidence if students truly felt that neither of the candidates represented them, as long as they voted.

Additionally, both said they were confident the 20 percent minimum of student body votes would be cast unlike last year when the threshold was not met, even with a voting extension.

Voting for president will continue through April 7.

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