By Allyson Noenickx
On Monday, Feb. 20 Student Government Association (SGA) co-president candidates, Maggie Scanlon ’18 and Donnie Stephens ’18, and Conor Carey ’18 and Liv Paulo ’18, squared off in a debate moderated by Luke Reynolds ’18. Students gathered by the Hogan copy center where candidates spoke about their qualifications and addressed a variety of issues on campus. Carey and Stephens, who flew back from Washington D.C. where he is currently spending the semester, were present for the debate. Both Scanlon and Paulo skyped in from Cork, Ireland where they are studying for the semester.
Both parties spoke to their experience and leadership positions on campus. Stephens and Scanlon stressed their extensive experience with SGA, a combined total of five years in the organization. “With this experience we know what realistically is able to be done. There’s a lot of ideas out there and we believe that we can put the ideas forward that we can actually work with the administration to accomplish. We’d love you guys to think of us as the experienced candidates and the ones that have the knowledge to be able to get some of the stuff that we’ve talked about done,” said Stephens. Paulo spoke to her two years of experience in SGA, serving as the executive secretary her freshman year and director of spiritual life her sophomore year. While Carey does not have SGA experience, he pointed to his leadership experience with Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD), HC for a Cure, and living off campus as a junior. “We’re going to have a whole new wave of students in, which is wonderful, they’re going to have new backgrounds, they’re going to have new needs. So it’s a matter of being prepared and I do not doubt that Conor’s experience that isn’t on SGA does not mean that he’s not prepared,” said Paulo in defense of Carey.
A recurring issue throughout the debate was the state of the current off-campus housing policy. Both pairs of candidates made a point of addressing the housing process and transparency in their campaign platforms. Paulo noted how the director of student life has a whole host of responsibilities––one of which is residence life. She proposed creating a new position that students have more access to. “We want to make a position where you can have more direct communication with residence life. We have all these outlets for writing, for journalism, for how the students feel––we need to bring that directly to the administration,” said Paulo. Stephens pointed to his experience this year working with residence life. “This is where experience comes into play,” said Stephens. “I was on the committee that is currently working with the director of residence life and housing to have a different process in place for off-campus selection––so something’s already in the works and it’s going to be finalized by April. The job of next year’s co-presidents is to make sure that that office––residence life––sticks to what they promise that they will do. Maggie and I, specifically myself from being on the committee, have the experience necessary to make sure that residence life, and frankly the administration as a whole, follows their commitments”
The candidates were also asked about how they would improve the study abroad process. Scanlon spoke about the lack of accessible semester-long options for students who do not want to go abroad for an entire year. “We want to make sure that if students do want to go abroad they have the option for a semester. A lot of students end up not going abroad at all, which should not be the case,” said Scanlon. Paulo also addressed the need for more semester-long programs, but spoke about the need for greater advertisement of domestic programs as well. Paulo spent the fall semester in Washington D.C. before heading to Cork. “The D.C. and New York semesters do [need attention] because it’s pretty daunting to be in a brand new city with no more contact to Holy Cross.” Paulo urged that there needs to be contact between those in D.C. and New York and an established director on cabinet or in the senate.
Paulo and Carey also addressed communication concerns on campus. “All across campus we have these fine TVs that work well, but there’s pretty much standstill pictures of schedules. I think that a really cool way to get people more involved and more aware of what’s happening on the hill would be to create some sort of news outlet that would be student run,” said Carey. This news outlet would advertise talks in Rehm Library, sporting events, concert series, and more to encourage student attendance. Stephens also proposed an initiative to share content across screens throughout campus, so that student events, Registered Student Organizations (RSO), and Multicultural Student Organizations (MSO) can advertise across campus from the Science Complex to the Hart Center which currently manage their own screens and content.
Other debate topics included green initiatives on campus, the potential addition of meal swipes at Crossroads, and ways to increase attendance at diversity events on campus. Voting for SGA co-presidents took place on Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 on Moodle. The results will be announced later today.