SGA Profile: Seth, Leala, Willie campaign wants to put students first

SGA Profile: Get to know Seth Watkins and Willie Kemp of the Seth, Leala, Willie SGA campaign.

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From left are Willie Kemp and Seth Watkins, who are a part of the Seth, Leala, Willie SGA campaign. TNJN/Ryan McGill

Seth Watkins and Willie Kemp, two candidates in the UT Student Government Association campaign Seth, Leala, Willie, said they don’t take themselves too seriously.

And they want to bring that mindset to create a more open relationship between SGA and students if they are elected.

“The reason we chose our first names and to go by is that so people know us by who we are. ‘Cause Seth is Seth. Leala is Leala, and I’m Willie,” Kemp, the campaign’s Student Services Director candidate, said.

“We chose it because we want it to be (that) students just see us,” Watkins, the campaign’s presidential candidate, said. “We feel like there are a lot of great campaigns that have great candidates, but they’re put on this pedestal of like (an) SGA campaign, and we’re just students. We want to be there for them. We’re not any better … We’re just regular people.”

Watkins said he hadn’t given any thought of running for SGA President until a friend suggested to him. Then, after talking with some of his other friends and mentors, he decided to go for it.

“You only live once … College is college, and this is the only time you ever get to do something like this,” Watkins said.

Watkins then enlisted the help of Kemp, although he needed a just little time to get used to the idea of being a part of a campaign.

“I said ‘I know of someone’ we can have, and I called Willie on the phone, and I said ‘Hey, how do you think about this?’ and he was silent for a good solid five seconds,” Watkins said.

“I was like ‘I’ll call you back in like an hour,'” Kemp said. “I called him back five minutes later. I said ‘yes.’ I hopped on as Student Services Director.”

Leala Marlin then stepped in as the vice president candidate for the campaign. “She’s been great. She’s so spunky. She’s just full of energy, and she gets stuff done,” Watkins said.

One of the main points that the Seth, Leala, Willie campaign would address if elected would be to bring the UT community together outside of game days during football season.

“The University of Tennessee has a really great sense of community when it’s game day,” Watkins said. “Once we leave Neyland , it seems like everyone kind of separates into their other communities, and people don’t know about other stuff that goes around campus.”

“I feel like as SGA, we should be not only like the liaison from students to administration but a liaison for students to students,” Watkins said.

One way the campaign would accomplish this would be to hold biweekly meetings where students can come and talk about social issues going on in the Knoxville area, the country and the world.

“So instead of reacting to social issues that sometimes we tend to do, it’s proactive, and it’s there already implemented,” Kemp said.

Some of their other goals include addressing issues with the UT bus systems, like expanding the T-Link route, addressing issues with the blue light systems, opening SGA Senate meetings, sending out an email of the SGA Senate meeting minutes and emphasizing safety.

“One of our points is to implement or improve upon sexual assault and having an orientation session that focuses on that, so first year students coming in know about it, know what it is, and so they know what it looks like coming to campus,” Kemp said.

The Seth, Leala, Willie campaign will participate in the SGA  live debate that will take place at the McClung Museum on Monday, March 30, at 8 p.m. A livestream will be available on volchannel.com beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Voting will take place on March 31 and April 1. You can vote online at votesga.utk.edu.

Edited by Jessica Carr