By Joseph Lyell —

About 50 students watched candidates face off at SGA’s 2018 Election Forum Feb. 26 in Chao Auditorium.

Each executive cabinet candidate fielded questions from their position’s incumbent.

Presidential candidates AJ Walters, president of the College of Business, and Academic Vice President Jonathan Fuller took center stage at the end of the event when current SGA President Vishnu Tirumala asked them what priorities they will bring to administrators.

Fuller targeted student retention in his response.

“You can bring in all the freshmen you want to, but if you continue to lose the sophomores then you’re never going to grow the student body,” he said.

He also said transparency is a key issue. He said new administrators need to focus on regaining the trust of students and faculty and be transparent from the beginning.

Walters said he wants students to be heard most importantly.

“Our students here at the University of Louisville are our shareholders,” Walters said.

He said his first priority is to make sure the incoming crew of new administrators listens to the student body.

“How do you balance student priorities versus broader institutional priorities?” Tirumala asked.

Tirumala said one situation to consider would be raising tuition to give raises to staff who had not received a raise in ten years.

Fuller said that in order to make tough decisions he would look to the students. He said he would invite students to trustee meetings and solicit their advice. He also said if tuition is raised, students need to get something in return, and if that means better staff and services then a tuition increase might be necessary.

Walters stressed the importance of working with RSOs and commuter students in making tough decisions. He said the president of SGA needs to have a task force of ambassadors across the university informing them of student’s needs.

The Executive Vice Presidential candidates are Elshadai Smith-Mensah, Curtis McCoy and Mariana Juarez. The incumbent Sarah Love asked them to talk about a pressing issue facing diversity at U of L and how they plan to address it.

Juarez spoke about the potential demolition of the Cultural Center.

“We need a new space,” she said. She said she wants a permanent relocation plan in place before the building is razed.

Smith-Mensah said she wants more students to get involved in programs on campus, and a more diverse representation of students.

McCoy agreed with Juarez’s comments about the Cultural Center and Smith-Mensah’s on diversity. He said he wanted to expand diversity through student recruitment.

Candidates for Academic Vice President are Lazaro Munoz, Jasper Noble and Easton Depp.

Munoz said he is passionate and would use meetings with faculty to address a plan for the Cultural Center, student retention and other issues.

Depp said working with faculty is important for the position to address students’ needs. He said his existing relationships with faculty leaders will help him communicate better.

Noble said he will communicate his positions in faculty meetings the same way he has in his role as SGA Senate Parliamentarian, and he believes this experience makes him the best candidate.

Wyatt Harris and Yasmean Fogle are the candidates for Services Vice President.

Fogle said she would focus on food services if elected. She said even though she is a freshman, voters should give her a chance because she is hard-working and a good communicator.

Harris said he believes his experience in civil engineering can help him tackle the issues of housing and parking. He added he has designed parking lots before.

Photo by Arry Schofield / The Louisville Cardinal