On March 23, 2017, the Student Government at Saint Cloud State University held their presidential debate for their election. This year’s election pitted presidential candidate, Jack O’Neil Como and his running mate, Kayla Shelly against fellow candidate, Kridish Uprety and his running mate, Abbe Holm. The debate was held at the Cascade Room in front of a big crowd in the Atwood Memorial Center.
The debate started with questions requiring the candidates to reflect on their strengths relating to the position, as well as how they will deal with various conflicts that come up during their potential presidencies. When asked what the greatest thing about Student Government is, all four of the candidates said they like being voices of the students. Each candidate discussed their experience; O’Neil-Como had been a chair, and was on the Tech Fee Committee, while Uprety was a senator. For the vice presidential candidates, Holm was an at-large senator, while Shelly talked about contributing to Greenfee and Safewalk.
There also came a time where only the two presidential candidates were to answer questions. One of the bigger questions involved working with administration. Uprety emphasized the importance of following up with administration on various topics, while O’Neil-Como talked about his experience, also saying that he will demand that things get done between Student Government and the administration.
When asked by the crowd, what the candidates would do to ensure that with the ever-changing social climate, students would feel welcome and safe on campus, O’Neil-Como responded by stating that as a white male, he will never fully know how people are discriminated against feel. His running mate, Shelly, echoed a similar sentiment. They both agreed they would do their best to fully understand what people were going through. Uprety remarked that because he knows exactly how it feels, he would be able to work with students to overcome these challenges.
Another topic discussed were the budget cuts for Residential Life. Cole Rau, a student currently residing in the dorms said, ” I would like to see more activities for the students.” Rau said, “I really enjoyed the open skate, and I would love to see events on Fridays.”
When the candidates were asked how they would combat the narrative that Residential Life is being let down, Uprety expressed his desire to talk to students, and find out why people are leaving. Holm said that students need to be kept in the loop for these cuts. O’Neil-Como emphasized the importance of alumni, suggesting that if there is a solid alumni base, it will make people proud to be a Husky.
When it was all said and done, it was time to vote. The ballots ran for four days, and on March 30th, 2017, the winner of the election was announced. Candidates, O’Neil-Como and Shelly came out on top in the election. The two were ecstatic, and no doubt are very excited to get to work at SCSU.
How can they start? Well, according to student Thomas Breach, it begins with getting in touch with the majority of the student body. “There should be more of a student government presence on campus,” said Breach.
And with a new presidency comes change – and the massive student population here at SCSU wished them well. Another election has gone down in the books – and a new chapter at SCSU has begun.