USG hosts executive board debate before polls open Wednesday

executive+board

Amy Nankin | Senior Staff Photographer

USG hosts executive candidate debate in Rogers Chapel.

Amy Nankin, News Editor

Students running for Undergraduate Student Government Executive Board positions launched their campaigns early this week in preparation for voting which will take place on March 11 and 12.  

Executive board positions include president, vice president of Academic Affairs, vice president of Student Organizations, vice president of Finance, vice president of Student Life, and executive vice president. 

USG hosted its Executive Board Election Debate Tuesday in Rogers Memorial Chapel. Candidates for all executive board positions gave an introductory speech and answered questions posed by Lauren Gaines and Shahmeer Hashmat, soon-to-be-outgoing Executive Board members who served as moderators for the debate. Members of the student body were also invited to submit questions online. 

The three candidates running for USG President are Deja Wells, Presley Klinger and Fo Garcia. Candidates were given an opportunity to voice their platform and had to answer one question posed by the moderators. The presidential candidates then answered questions submitted by the student body that were directed at individual candidates, followed by the opportunity for rebuttal questions from other candidates. The debate concluded with closing statements given by each candidate.

Candidate Deja Wells is running on a platform of transparency, accountability and community. According to her campaign website, Wells hopes to use her experiences within outside organizations like the Center for Public Service, African American Women’s Society and the Black pre-law society as well as her year-long tenure as a USG senator to showcase her capability as a leader. During her time as a senator, she helped pass the Equity Fee Resolution and wants students to have more access to senators to allow them to participate more easily in USG. 

“I will hope that you will vote for me because I want to work in the interest of all of you. The equity fee, that was for everyone, the Goldman Center, the Center for Academic Equity, it helps all students inherently by making this campus more inclusive,” Wells said in her closing argument. “I think this campus has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity and making sure that students have access, and I believe that I am the woman to do it.” 

Candidate Presley Klinger’s motto is “Passion. Persistence. People. Presley.” According to her campaign website, she has been a member of USG for three years and currently serves as the vice president of student organizations. She wants to create a more inclusive community by asking clubs how they are personally promoting inclusivity on campus. Within her platform of inclusivity, she is focusing on religious inclusivity and how to tailor university protocol to be more inclusive and mindful of different religions and cultures. She is running on a platform of positivity and vows to help students be successful in projects they are passionate about. 

“I am running on a positivity platform to lift people up, to lift up voices and to talk about you. To talk about the things that we’re passionate about. I am running for spring scholars, for transfer students for people studying abroad at Tulane,” Klinger said in her closing argument. “Vote for passion, persistence and people. Vote for Presley.” 

Candidate Fo Garcia urges students to “Move forward with equity, accessibility, inclusivity, transparency and experience” to “Move forward with Fo.” According to his campaign website, Garcia has been involved in USG for the past three years and currently serves as the vice president for Student Life. He created the diversity fellows program, established a free unlimited STI testing initiative, worked to expand the inclusivity of tailgates and advocated for an increase in student wages. He wants to increase the access students have to administration to increase diversity and inclusion on campus and wants to improve Tulane’s relationship to the rest of New Orleans. 

“I think that engagement is one thing that we’ve seen during this election … when I was a freshman I was made to feel sick to my stomach when I spoke out for the first time. This space wasn’t inclusive, it wasn’t meant for people like me, it wasn’t meant for people like you in the audience. I think that USG has changed and has a way to go, but I encourage you guys to vote in your best interest,” Garcia said in his closing argument. “I think that we need to empower the next generation of change makers on campus and continue the advocacy work, so I encourage you guys to move forward with Fo this next Wednesday and Thursday and vote for something that is going to change Tulane.” 

The debate also featured candidates running for non-presidential executive board positions, all of whom are running unopposed. All candidates were given time to present their platforms then asked one question by the moderators. 

Executive Vice President candidate Reagan McKinney wants to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of USG by creating more leadership positions, simplifying the dress code and procedures at USG senate meetings and move office hours to a more accessible location. She wants to make USG more open and communicative to the student body and make anti-racist institute training mandatory for all USG senators. 

McKinney was questioned about how she plans to maintain order within the senate while enacting her plan to simplify senate procedures. 

“The purpose of senate is to work for its students and represent peer ideas and goals and that can be done without having a super structured set of rules that people don’t really understand,” McKinney said. “It’s important that we make sure that students who want to come in and talk about what they want to talk about while maintaining a structure so that people actually understand what’s happening.”

Vice President of Academic Affairs candidate Ingeborg Hyde has created the motto “Many hearts, ONE student body” to represent her campaign. She wants to create an environment where all students can thrive and hopes to work with the university to reduce academic barriers to learning like high textbook prices and create more opportunities for laptop rentals. 

Vice President of Student Orgs candidate Elsa Rothenberg’s campaign phrase is “Experienced. Effective.” She plans to make organizations easier to create and wants to train more USG officers on how to provide more effective resources to student organizations to allow them to be successful. 

Vice President of Finance candidate Michael Chen currently serves on the USG Finance committee and wants to continue his work in prioritizing representation and accessibility through the committee’s dedication to diversity. He intends to improve the transparency of the budget to maximize the potential of student organizations on campus. 

Vice President of Student Life candidate Jamie Roa hopes to increase student body engagement in the USG process to allow more voices to be heard in USG decisions. She wants to enact mandatory Community Engagement Advocate training to allow more people become leaders on campus. 

Voting begins tomorrow on WaveSync. If no Presidential candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held on Friday, March 13.