By Joe Wilson
With the upcoming Student Government Association (SGA) election just over a week away, the candidates for the Top 4 executive offices sat down for an open forum in the College of Business PNC Auditorium to detail more about their platforms. The following candidates participated in the discussion:
- Paighton Brooks and Angel Okorie (Student Body President/Executive Vice President)
- Liam Gallagher and Daniel Ngongo (Student Body President/Executive Vice President)
- Katie Hayden and Bryson Sebastian (Student Body President/Executive Vice President)
- Sawyer Depp (Academic Vice President)
- Caroline Thomas (Academic Vice President)
- Alex Reynolds (Services Vice President)
William VonHandorf, the Chief Justice of the SGA Supreme Court, served as the moderator and posed questions about leadership, diversity, and campus safety at the forum. Near the end of the 2-hour event, attendees were also able to ask questions related to their concerns.
In light of recent incidents of crime on campus, candidates devoted a large segment of the forum to address their ideas for improved campus safety.
Liam Gallagher explained that he plans to work with the city of Louisville to reduce crime around campus, saying that “one thing I’ve learned living in the city of Louisville is when the city does well, U of L does well.” Gallagher directed criticism at the University of Louisville Police Department (ULPD), however, alleging that some police officers refuse to respond to calls that occur off campus.
“A few weeks ago, I heard gunshots at The Retreat, called the ULPD, and they refused to respond. If they respond, they are required to report it. So, they called LMPD [Louisville Metro Police Department], and it took ten minutes for LMPD to get there when there were U of L police officers sitting in the parking lot of The Retreat.” Ultimately, Gallagher said he wants to see a restructuring of ULPD to build more trust with students.
Paighton Brooks, who currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff, says she wants to create new transportation services to increase campus safety. “I’ve worked with Alex [Reynolds] extensively on researching and finding new late-night transportation options that can offset the Cardinal Cruiser and hopefully improve wait times,” she said.
Additionally, Brooks noted students may have to wait between 30 minutes to an hour to receive a ride from the Cardinal Cruiser. “You might be sitting in the dark on campus waiting for them. There’s no way to know how soon they’re coming,” she stated. Brooks plans to advocate for a transportation app with similar functionality to Uber to help students move around campus more safely.
Brooks also said she wants more timely Rave Alerts, saying “I don’t want to know that gunshots were 30 minutes ago. I want to make sure I’m in a safe place 3o minutes ago.” Within the past 10 days, U of L has issued 7 Rave Alerts emails.
Angel Okorie, Brook’s running mate, added that she wants the university to be more transparent when issuing said Rave Alerts. “There was somebody in the SAC [Student Activities Center] not too long ago that had a gun, but no one really knew about it because there wasn’t a Rave Alert about it,” she said. Okorie emphasized that the university needs to be more forthcoming about safety concerns.
Current EVP Katie Hayden said that she wants to create an app where students can access all of the university’s services.
“We talked to ULPD this morning, and one of the issues that Chief Green mentioned is that our technology is progressing faster than we are here at U of L. But everybody has a phone. Everybody has their app, and that’s why I want to start this new app,” she said.
A key feature, she described, would be a safety tab, which would include ULPD’s contact information so that in the event you are in a crisis, she described, you don’t have to go find the number. “It’s at the click of a finger.”
Bryson Sebastian, Hayden’s running mate, said that the university does not have a large enough budget to invest in better technology to improve campus safety. “One of the issues we’ve frankly had is that we don’t have the budget to keep up with the tech we need to keep students safe,” he said. “We have an issue of a lack of cameras on campus.”
The increased talk of campus safety comes shortly after an armed robbery near the parking lot of University Pointe. Additionally, ULPD and LMPD responded to a deadly shooting near the Health Science Center Campus last week.
Students can vote in the upcoming SGA elections between February 27th, and March 2nd, 2023, via their U of L email.
File Photo // Joe Wilson, The Louisville Cardinal //