A crowd of students gathered in the SMC atrium to listen to the debate between the two SGA presidential candidates. Photo courtesy of Cale Cusimano / Student Government Association
Millersville University’s Student Government Association (SGA) is holding their 2022-2023 presidential elections this week, having held their presidential debate on Tuesday, March 15. SGA’s Director of Organizations, Lindsay Griffiths, and Campus Safety Representative and Interim Director of Academics Bryan Nelson are vying for the role of president.
Held in the Student Memorial Center atrium, the presidential debate allowed the candidates to discuss various pressing issues within the Millersville community, elaborate on their platforms and goals, and explain to students and staff why they would be the best fit to represent the student body.
Moderated by SGA Vice President Lauren Coca, the debate consisted of candidates Griffiths and Nelson addressing a multitude of concerns on campus, including parking availability, lack of dining options, accommodating commuters and transfer students, and implementing diversity and inclusion in SGA’s policies and representation.
Commencing with the issue of campus dining, both candidates acknowledged the lack of variety in the cuisine offered, as well as limited hours, staff, and locations for dining halls. To address this, Griffiths emphasized increasing operating hours and wages, as well as more outreach to increase both adult and student employment in the dining halls, in order to address food insecurity.
Nelson also suggested increasing wages and employment, particularly for students, responding, “while hiring employees is important, I will always fight for students first.”
In addition, Nelson suggested working to reopen The Cove, a popular eating spot for those populating the North side of campus.
Moving to accommodating transfers, commuters, and others who park on campus, Nelson noted the difficulty transferring and commuting students may have making friends, joining clubs, and participating in campus events due to many of them being held in the later hours. In response, he suggested working more closely with student organizations to host more events during the day on campus. Griffiths, who has worked with the commuter representative for Student Government, also has her foot in the door to make campus life more accommodating for commuters.
Both candidates support freshmen being able to park their vehicles on campus, with Nelson suggesting that, in order to alleviate parking issues, the school should more strongly enforce faculty and students parking their vehicles in their respective spots.
“As a freshman with a single mother, having a car was my only way to be able to get to campus to take classes,” said Griffiths. “Access to their own transportation is necessary for all students, including freshmen, and those who may not be able to use public transportation. How will we provide accessibility to all students if we take away that resource?”
The debate also involved discussions of promoting active social affairs, both internal and external, within Student Government. Griffiths, as Director of Organizations, has a history working with various clubs on campus with the hope of making the activation process of forming new clubs smoother and easier. In turn, she would also work to implement fewer, but more meaningful, training sessions for existing campus organizations. She also emphasized a need for more active communication between students and clubs, while also pushing for more direct representation for groups that may be overlooked or ignored by the administration.
In response, Nelson suggested putting more effort into helping prospective organizations understand the activation process and advocating more for underrepresented groups, noting his ongoing work with Millersville’s chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Black Student Union to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Chair within Student Government.
As Interim Director of Academics, Nelson stated regarding academics, “we need to advocate for all students, especially doing more for our transfers. How are they supposed to be helped and reach out, if they do not know who to reach out to?”
Griffiths, on the other hand, emphasized a need for accountability, while also directly connecting with students and addressing their needs.
Concluding with a discussion on SGA’s future and creating an ideal culture on campus, the candidates had the opportunity to make closing remarks and summarize their goals as liaison of the student body.
Since being elected to Director of Organizations last year, Griffiths has worked to make campus life more inclusive and effective, noting her involvement in rewriting the SGA’s constitution and pushing for more active intercommunication and bonding within and outside the organization. Nelson, while only being involved in SGA since Fall 2021, has worked his way up to acting as Director of Academics, with his platform emphasizing advocacy, work ethic, and inclusivity.
Towards the end of this segment, Griffiths mentioned a desire to implement a more “open-door” policy for SGA meetings. Nelson replied, “we actually do have an open-door policy and all meetings are open to the public. We should not say there is an issue with a policy not being there if it in fact does exist.”
Once the formal debate concluded, VP Coca opened the floor for questions. Following the brief question and answer session, the debate formally concluded, allowing the candidates once more to reiterate their platforms and promise to support the Millersville community.
Voting is currently open on Get Involved and will close on Friday, March 18 at 11:59 p.m.. Candidates will be notified of the results on Saturday and the new SGA President will be publicly announced sometime the following week.