Student Association presidential candidate Tucker Sholtes and vice presidential candidate Neely Laufer participated unopposed in the only SA election debate that will take place this campaign season.
Both candidates were welcomed and introduced to those who attended the Wednesday night event in Johnson Hall. Sholtes, a junior president of both the business organization Enactus and Community Services and treasurer for ONE at Oswego, and Laufer, a current SA senator, first made their introduction statements.
Sholtes began with discussing one of his more unique features in that he has no previous SA experience.
“I believe I can bring a lot of outside, unbiased opinions to SA since I am not as familiar with how things operate in SA,” Sholtes said. “So I hope that is able to be leveraged in my favor.”
Laufer began her introduction with discussing her freshman standing, but how in her short time as a senator, she has taken a lot of action.
“I’ve written a lot of legislation and most of it has been passed,” Laufer said.
The two candidates then moved into the question segment of the debate.
Laufer was asked about the problems that SA currently faces. Laufer said when she came into the senate last fall, there were not a lot of senators and those who were senators weren’t really involved. This resulted in a flood of freshman senators swearing in to the senate as the fall semester progressed.
“I think a problem is that people hear that they can make some money off the senate and join it just because of it,” Laufer said. “I think our biggest problem is that senators aren’t really involved as much as they should be. Now we have a great group so coming into the fall definitely won’t be a problem to find senators who want to get involved and stay involved.”
Laufer said she believed the best way to get students more involved in both becoming senators and involved with SA altogether next fall is to go door-to-door to different buildings and residence halls on campus.
“There are buildings now that are still not represented and that are a huge problem,” Laufer said.
Sholtes said that his perspective of the organization over his three years at Oswego State has been that SA is “one big overall thing but never really saw one-on-one.” Sholtes suggested SA senators aggressively attend their
residence hall council meetings and tell people what SA has to offer individual students.
“I think a lot of people kind of see us as a bank and they don’t see much beyond that,” Sholtes said. “So one of my goals is to create a whole new public relations department within SA and have there be a dedicated public relations chorographer that we will work with to change the image of SA and to highlight the things that SA can do that most students don’t know about. Most students probably don’t know that it was a result of SA that we now have a printer in the 24-hour room.”
Laufer argued that she would like to see more senators involved in other clubs and organizations besides the senate to increase the overall presence of SA throughout the campus.
Along with the reformation of number of presidential and vice presidential debates, the voting method during the election sequence has also changed. Students who vote will now be using Laker Life, which was launched last fall and is used by many clubs and organizations on campus. It was used during the groups’ budget submissions that happened last week. There is some concern that students who are not involved in various organizations don’t know about Laker Life.
“I think when you look at Laker Life, you kind of look through social media,” Sholtes said. “When Facebook first came out, it took a few years for it to really get around that curve and get a lot of people interested in using it and I think that’s kind of the same situation we’re in.”
Sholtes also said he thinks Laker Life will see a large usage increase because it has gotten a chance to get on its feet and will be there at the start of the next academic year for incoming freshmen to use.
Along with voting for the candidates when the election comes, students will also vote for or against the $97 student activity fee that students pay every semester as a mandatory part of their tuition. It is one of the things both candidates stressed during the debate senate has throughout the campaign season.
“I think it’s very important,” Sholtes said. “Since I’ve come in as a freshman, it appears that almost 40 new organizations have added. Just in the business school, there have been five new organizations since I was a freshman. While that’s great that we have a growing number of new organizations, if we don’t have the same funding, if not more funding, it’s not going to be a good thing for the organizations.”
Sholtes said he would like to work to increase the amount students pay for the student activity fee to keep up with the growing number of clubs and organizations.
Laufer said she has been emphasizing that the fee funds more than just various organizations on campus, such as the Centro bus system.
“Centro is a huge part of campus,” Laufer said. “Especially in the winter when no one wants to walk to class if they’re far away from their classes. Taking the bus is so much easier and it helps take you into town. It budgets a lot of things.”
Both candidates expressed their optimism with working with each other next year and capitalizing on Laufer’s lower class standing and Sholtes’s upper class standing as a way to join both divided groups of the college.
“We’ve made some very dynamic ideas mixing her experience of SA and my experience outside of SA together,” Sholtes said.
After taking two brief questions from the attendees, both candidates made their closing statements. Laufer told the audience to go out and vote when the election comes and to attend SA’s weekly meetings. Sholtes said he would like students to approach both him and Laufer so they can get to know them on a more personal basis.
The debate then concluded.
Both Sholtes and Laufer said afterward they were nervous for the debate, but came out with a positive attitude.
“I think it went pretty well,” Sholtes said. “A little shaky but it was a good experience. I wish there were more people here. I would’ve loved to do more questions and answers. I thought it was pretty cool to hear some students’ opinions and hear what they’re interested in.”
Sholtes also said he hopes that next year the debate can be held at a more central location on campus to help draw more students to attend.
“It went pretty good for our first and only debate,” Laufer said. “I just hope people go out and vote.”
The students who did attend the debate also said that they wished more had come see the candidates’ discuss these issues up close.
“I thought it was very informative and I thought it was very well put together,” freshman Allison Anthony said. “There are a lot of things, like the $97 fee, that I didn’t know about, so I’m glad I came.”
The SA elections will take place on March 11 and 12 on the Laker Life website.