–By Madelin Shelton
The Student Government Association hosted a forum for the “Top 4” candidates Feb. 19 ahead of SGA elections.
Candidates introduced themselves, answered questions from current Top 4 officers and the audience, and gave closing statements.
The Top 4 positions are: Student Body President, Executive Vice President, Executive Services Vice President and Academic Vice President.
Student Body President
This office deals with university-wide issues and administration.
The first candidate, Brandon McClain, is the current director of outreach for SGA and founded the fourth branch of SGA, the Student Organization Advisory Board.
McClain advocated for altering the meal plan system at the university to better accommodate students at affiliated properties and to better serve students by creating a housing cheat sheet for affiliated and unaffiliated properties.
This cheat sheet would allow students to comparatively look at information about rent and amenities for the various properties on and close to campus.
McClain also would like to have recognized student organizations become official members of SGA, wherein they would be required to attend one senate meeting every year or two.
Academic Vice President Sabrina Collins is also running for president. Collins wants to create more transparency in SGA. She also wants to implement an SGA Cares hotline, where students could submit questions or request advice for navigating university life.
Collins said she would also allocate more funds to the PEACC Center due to increasing demand and advocate against hidden student fees.
Executive Vice President
The person elected to this office will be president of the student senate, promote diversity initiatives and work closely with the athletics department.
Candidate Joenima Wani said she was qualified for the position through her experience holding meetings for service committees and serving as Assistant Services Vice President.
Wani said she will make more funding available to the PEACC Center and the Counseling Center. She also wants to provide more support to The Ville’ns, a registered student organization on campus that seeks to create, reinforce and enhance the fan experience of Cardinal Athletics.
Lexi Raikes is the other executive vice president candidate. She said her work as appropriations committee chair for SGA Senate and her diversity initiatives qualify her for the job.
Raikes said she helped add a diversity committee to SGA and is getting a more diverse group of people involved in SGA.
She said she would create more avenues of involvement in SGA, including creating a mentorship program for people from diverse backgrounds and elevating student voices that often get left out.
Service Vice President
This position focuses on working with student services, including housing, safety, dining and construction.
Candidate Henny Ransdell, executive director of the Engage Lead Serve Board, described herself in that role as working towards the principles of “sustainability, affordability and inclusivity.”
Ransdell said she would seek to accomplish these goals through elevating student voices. She has advocated designating the bathrooms in new residence halls safe for transgender students, encouraged university administration to not increase tuition as a first resort and prioritized student voices in the construction of the new Cultural Center.
Savannah Fairfield is on the ballot for services vice president but was not at the forum.
Academic Vice President
This officer works directly with deans and faculty.
Lone candidate Ben Barberie currently serves as the deputy chief of staff for the SGA Executive Cabinet. Barberie emphasized retention of students and proposed adding intervention points between students’ first and second years, as well as between their second and third years.
He said the university could use this point to “provide resources to students who most need them.” He also highlighted the need for leveraging more community partnerships, like with the UPS. He also advocates for making college more affordable, specifically through lowering the cost of online classes for full-time students.
Ballots for the SGA candidates were sent to students through their UofL emails, and voting ends Feb. 26.