2023 SGA Debates

2023 SGA Debates

Charlee Major, theYard Lead Reporter

It has been hard to walk around campus and not run into campaign signs for the upcoming SGA elections. SGA held a presidential debate for those candidates to talk about current issues on campus and how they plan to address them.

Students running for attorney general, vice president of external affairs, vice president of internal affairs and SGA President all stepped to the mic to share with students why they feel they deserve their votes. 

The first debate took place between those running for vice president of internal affairs. Junior architectural engineering student Royce Watson and sophomore political science student Jordan Lightfoot talked about advocating for students when it comes to on-campus issues. Both serving in senator positions, they answered how these roles are preparing them to be VPIA.

“I myself have gone to career fairs and never been able to find anything,” Lightfoot said. “One of our biggest accomplishments was being able to establish the first non-STEM career fairs on campus. It’s things like that I was able to do in the senate this year.”

Lightfoot is the chair for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. She emphasized how students in this department do not have the same resources as those who are STEM majors.

Her response drew a lot of applause from the crowd. However, it came with a rebuttal from Watson.

“It’s important to realize that a lot of companies come here knowing that N.C. A&T is a STEM school,” Watson said. “There are a lot of non-STEM positions in these stem fields, like Human Resources, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and legal.”

Running for vice president of external affairs are current VPEA Michael Bivins and sophomore applied engineering technology student Damon Brown. VPEA deals with events that take place off campus during events like GHOE and Aggie Fest. Bivins is continuing to find ways to outdo himself from last year.

“This year is the first time Aggie Fest has ever had a comedy show,” Bivins said.

When it comes to big events like GHOE and Aggie Fest, safety is an issue year after year. Brown is making it known that if he is selected, there is a certain demographic that he plans to keep safe.

“Student safety is important, but even more importantly is our women’s safety. They outnumber the men 4 to 1,” Brown said. “I will see what we can implement that makes them feel safe.”

Some students feel as though smaller organizations do not get as much attention as the big five orgs (SUAB, RHA, FSE, COP, SGA). One student from the African Aggies Coalition (AAC) asked both candidates how they plan to be more inclusive.

Brown emphasizes how his personal connections he has with students in smaller organizations can only help him when it comes to advocating for them.

“I can understand from a friend’s point of view as opposed to a higher up,” Brown said. “We’re going to get something done regardless of what the outcome is.”

Bivins made it known that if he is selected, he can start implementing plans for smaller organizations as soon as next month.

“Planning starts in April,” Bivins said. “We can write up a plan and have it ready for next semester.”

The candidates for SGA president are junior finance student Ellington King and junior economics student Jasmine Amaniampong. King’s campaign focuses on university accountability, community outreach and unity.

“N.C. A&T has a rich history of both students and SGA coming together to make positive changes,” King said. “I want to be a part of that legacy.”

Amaniampong’s campaign is all about O.B.A.M.A. (Outreach, Bridge, Advocate, Magnify, Accountability). She highlights how approachability is how she plans to achieve all of these initiatives. 

“Approachability is how students’ voices are heard,” Amaniampong said. “One of my main plans is having ‘Come Eat With Me’ office hours in either the mini cafe or the big cafe.”

Many students on campus feel SGA is elitist, and that those involved have no interests in actually advocating for the student body. King’s transparency initiative is how he plans to shed this narrative that SGA has yet to let go of. 

“SGA needs to stop being what it’s not,” King said. “There are other small organizations that want to see our faces at their events. The student body needs to see us showing up for them.”

General elections begin March 29th and runoffs are March 31st. Voting will take place online via VoteNet.