SGA presidential candidates debate for student votes


(L to R) Presidential candidate Chaz Edwards and running mate Abby Gross, Erik Pederson and running mate David Trump, and John Jose and running mate Clayton Castle took questions from The Northerner and the audience at the 2013 SGA Presidential Debate Monday night. SGA elections are March 27-28.

This year’s SGA presidential and vice presidential candidates came together to debate their platforms and ideas Monday night in the Student Union. Over 50 students came out to see what the three teams had to offer before placing their votes March 27 and 28.

Current president Erik Pederson and running mate David Trump, John Jose and Clayton Castle, and Chaz Edwards and Abby Gross took questions from The Northerner and the audience that challenged their platform stances.

Each candidate team mentioned their passion for serving students and the need to make student voices on campus heard. Diversity, funding and rebranding the university were all major talking points for the candidates, whose platforms all included similar ideas.

All three teams have plans to create a diversity center or LGBTQ center on campus included in their platforms to act as a “liaison” for activism and support for students, faculty and staff. Edwards’ running mate Gross, who currently holds a seat in SGA, has started the process for a LGBTQ center on campus after she presented a resolution to the senate at Monday’s meeting.

Jose’s platform suggests working for a diversity center that would encompass more than just LGBTQ, but he said he sees where limiting the center to LGBTQ would make more sense for students, and would be easier to accomplish.

To work for more funding for the university, each candidate team said they would continue to advocate at the capitol and work with Kentucky officials. Pederson, who chose not to attend the Rally for Higher Education this year, said he would plan in advance for next year’s rally. His main reason for not attending the rally was because this year is not a budget year.

His running mate Trump said the $3,000 it costs to send students to Frankfort is a waste of money during a non-budget year.

Edwards said he still thought it would be important to be present at all rallies, even during off years.

All candidates said they would host rallies on campus yearly.

Jose said he wanted to include students in a collaborative effort to come up with creative ways to advocate for more funding. For his team, he said it’s not about SGA making the decisions, but including the students as well.

University branding was a main platform point for Pederson and Jose, who both want to make the campus more Norse-centered. Jose defined it as “Norsifying” the campus through more logos, more black and gold and also incorporating the community. Both Pederson and Jose mentioned furthering the campus beautification project, while Edwards wanted to focus more on working with the community.

Edwards’ made a point to say that he would focus more on new ideas rather than expanding on projects the university is already working on, such as campus beautification, which the university has already budgeted for.

Each team spoke to the audience about why they should vote for them, Pederson and Trump being their experience in SGA so far and their youth — both have at least two more years to serve — Jose and Castle focused on their passion to serve students and Jose’s desire to leave the university better than when he came here, and Edwards and Gross, who calls herself the “Grandma of SGA,” said they are committed to the future and focusing on new initiatives, rather than ones already in place.

SGA elections take place March 27-28. Students can vote at a voting station set up in the Student Union during lunch hours.

Also on the ballot are candidates for senators and a change to the SGA constitution. For a full list of candidates, go to