SGA hosts Speech Night in Spa: Candidates talk about their campaign and answer questions from students

Posted by Julia Leef

Approximately 50 students gathered in the Spa Wednesday evening to listen to speeches from the four candidates running in this week's Student Government Association elections.

Donald Duff '13 and Stacy Sullivan '13 both ran for senator-at-large positions on the new sustainability committee, which the SGA added to its ranks at the end of last semester. Jess Dunning '15 ran for the position of sustainability senator. LaMarte Williams '14 ran for vice president of Wiecking. All candidates ran unopposed.

"This election in general is usually shorter than others because it's a turnover election," said the SGA Vice President Raiza Nazareth '12, referring to the small number of candidates and the brief duration of Speech Night, which only lasted for approximately 15 minutes.

Nazareth said students would most likely run for the remaining open positions through Willingness-to-Serve elections, which take place at every Tuesday SGA Senate meeting.

Candidates gave three-minute speeches on their experiences in government, as well as their reasons for running in the elections. A question-and-answer session followed each candidate's speech, during which the students in attendance could ask any questions pertaining to the candidates' platforms and plans for the upcoming semester.

All candidates cited previous experience in positions of leadership, including Duff and Sullivan, who both served terms on the SGA Senate last year. Duff said he was looking forward to rejoining the Senate after leaving last semester to focus on academic work, while Sullivan said she would work to increase communication between the SGA and the student body and work on a campaign to make the campus more handicap-accessible.

Both candidates, when questioned about their sub-committee preferences, expressed their attachment to Club Affairs, one of the 11 Senate sub-committees. Each senator-at-large, in addition to his or her duties on the Senate, is also required to sit on at least two sub-committees, although according to Nazareth, many choose to sit on more.

After Duff and Sullivan concluded their speeches, Dunning began hers by saying that through her experience working in the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall, she witnessed a lot of food waste, which, in part, inspired her to run for sustainability senator.

"I'm very dedicated to making this school more sustainable," Dunning said. "I think that that [excessive Dining Hall waste] can be changed, especially if we do a lot to educate and promote our activities to students."

Dunning also said she would research alternative energy sources that can be utilized on campus.

"I think through working with the new sustainability committee, we would be able to go more in depth with other energy sources," Dunning said. "Once we finally have the committee formed, get established with the administration, the SGA committee and the student body, we will be able to get a good start this semester and make some progress."

When asked what she would do with a $500 budget for the semester, Dunning replied that although she wasn't sure how to spend all of the money, she would allot a portion of it to advertising the initiatives of other on-campus environmental groups, such as the Environmental Action Club, and to educating the student body about taking actions to be more environmentally friendly.

Dunning said her strengths lay in Climate & Energy, one of the seven specialized Willingness-to-Serve positions on the sustainability committee, and that she would work to educate herself about the ones in which she felt the weakest, such as Waste. She said she plans to collaborate with all on-campus environmental groups, and when asked how she would be able to accomplish goals that other groups like the EAC could not, Dunning said her position in the SGA would be a big help.

"Being part of the SGA, the committee would probably have a foot up on the EAC because we work with the administration. We would also have a more substantial footing in getting things out to the community, not just for students, but for the Saratoga community as well," Dunning said.

The final candidate, Williams, is a transfer student who ran unopposed for president of Wiecking last semester, but dropped out of the running to get better accustomed to the College before taking on the added responsibilities of the position. He said he wants to help bring people together through dorm programs and other events.

"I feel like I owe it to you guys. You've all been so nice to me since I've been here," said Williams, addressing the students in attendance.

When asked what kind of event he would sponsor using a limited budget, Williams said he was thinking of hosting a March Madness event in the dorm basement, where students could watch the games, eat pizza and mingle.

Voting will begin on Thursday at midnight and will conclude at the end of the day. The SGA will announce the results Friday. 

Editor's Note: All candidates were elected to their respective positions on Friday, Feb. 10.

Review: A night of a cappella in the Tang showcases the College's vocal talents: All six a cappella groups performed in the Tang last Thursday night

SGA Elections to take place this week: Candidates running for senator and IHB positions will speak at Speech Night