Tuesday night’s Student Government Association debate was held at the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy. The debate featured three primary parties: We Are UT, Insert UT and Keny-Dugosh. The debate was aired live by The Volunteer Channel as candidates discussed their proposed policy initiatives to be implemented if elected.
The debate was moderated by Ryan Ray, unaffiliated with SGA, and was held in a round-table format of discussion. As the debate was about to begin, TVC Producer Annie Carr opened by saying, “I was going to make an April Fool’s Day joke, but I’ll leave that to Insert.”
Insert revolves around a satirical approach to typical SGA campaigning. Running is Quinn “Stone Cold” Cowan for President, Ryan “Night Hawk” Whitener for Vice President, Kyle “Ice Blood” White for Student Services Director and Cody “Big Honey” Walsh for Board of Trustees Representative.
Although the party is running as a parody group, many students in the audience showed enthusiastic support for their campaign efforts. The audience gave a roaring “hell yeah” after Insert announced their plan to get UT’s famous rock moved onto pedestrian walkway, or a statue of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson instead.
“The reason why I came was for Insert. I like the way they go about it.” said Madeline Young, a sophomore and psychology major who admitted to being fully aware they were a joke party.
Representatives of Insert donned sunglasses during the debate as they joked about how campaigns and policy initiatives were of little concern to their primary objective of forming a student militia based on Tennessee’s volunteer history from the war of 1812.
We Are UT consists of Carly Frensley for President, Jack Johnson for Vice President, Katelyn Hadder for SSD and R.J. Duncan for Board of Trustees. Duncan explained that if elected, “my goal is to represent all students at the university.”
Hadder told students, “People think me being young is a hindrance, but I think it’s empowering.”
Keny-Dugosh is composed of Kelsey Keny for President and Connor Dugosh for Vice President. Also running for Board of Trustees is Grant Davis and Matt Riley, with no affiliation to the We Are UT, Insert or Keny-Dugosh campaigns. Grant believes his experience in helping to eradicate excessive student fees will help with his campaign efforts.
“My actions speak louder than I could ever say,” said Grant.
Outside the debate was a panel of media spokespersons providing commentary. The panel featured Zach Dennis from the Tennessee Journalist, Rilwan Balogun from TVC, R.J. Vogt from The Daily Beacon and Cole Liles as an SGA analyst with previous student government experience.
SGA elections will open Wednesday, April 2 through Thursday April 3. Results will be announced at 6:30 p.m. on April 3.
Voting takes place at votesga.utk.edu
For more information on the parties or candidates, check out TNJN’s coverage.
Edited by Zach Dennis