SGA Election: Interviews with Candidates

James Matthew Wyatt, sophomore Political Science major, running for Office of Secretary | Photo Cred: SGA
James Matthew Wyatt, sophomore Political Science major, running for Office of Secretary | Photo Cred: SGA
Binh Morris, sophomore Business Administration major, running for Vice President | Photo Cred: SGA
Binh Morris, sophomore Business Administration major | Photo Cred: SGA
Austin Hamlett, sophomore Nursing major, running for Treasurer | Photo Cred: SGA
Austin Hamlett, sophomore Nursing major | Photo Cred: SGA
Amanda Ebert, sophomore Biology major, running for Office of Secretary | Photo Cred: SGA
Amanda Ebert, sophomore Biology major, running for Office of Secretary | Photo Cred: SGA
Matthew Grove, sophomore Political Science major, running for Vice President | Photo Cred: SGA
Matthew Grove, sophomore Political Science major, running for Vice President | Photo Cred: SGA

Students have the chance to vote starting Thursday, Nov. 17, and going through Monday, Nov. 21, for those running for the SGA positions of: President, Vice President, Office of Secretary and Treasurer.
I had the opportunity to interview both Binh Morris, sophomore Business Administration major, and Matthew Grove, sophomore Political Science major, the two candidates running for Vice President; Amanda Ebert, sophomore Biology major, and James Matthew Wyatt, sophomore Political Science major, the candidates running for Office of Secretary; as well as Austin Hamlett, sophomore Nursing major, who is the single candidate running for Treasurer.

1) What started your interest in government as well as student government?
Vice President Candidates:
Morris: “My interest in government, student government especially, began when I entered middle school. I am a huge ‘people-person’ and along with my fascination to know people, came my desire to help and represent them. I served as Vice President and President all through 7th-12th grade. Student government was and still is my opportunity to truly represent my friends and classmates.”

Grove: “In high-school I did not have a good experience with student government, but decided to give it another try in college. Once I started I quickly fell in love with my SGA experience. It is a rewarding task to find ways to improve camaraderie within our student body and search for new ways to improve our school.”

Office of Secretary Candidates:
Wyatt: “I have been interested in government for as long as I can remember. I participated in student government in high-school and after a “break year” during my freshman year of college, I was ready to get back into it. I hope to be an elected official in my career at some point in my life.”

Ebert: “I never really had interest in student government because I have always disliked politics and things of that sort. But under the guidance of my friend, I applied for Freshman council with her and got accepted. I quickly realized that SGA was not about politics, but instead it’s a place to serve the student body.”

Treasurer Candidate:
Hamlett: “I remember first becoming interested in student government while I was a prospective student. I knew someone who was in SGA who really enjoyed their experience.”

2) If your are elected, what are your responsibilities?
Vice President:
Grove: “The primary role of the Vice President is to serve as President of the Student Senate. This means that I would lead all meetings of Senate and coordinate the legislation. As President of the Student Senate, I could only vote to break a tie. The Vice President performs any tasks that the President needs and duties assigned to me. I would also fill in for the President if he were absent. Like the rest of All Staff, the Vice President also has weekly office hours.”

Office of Secretary
Wyatt: “The SGA Secretary takes roll and keeps minutes at Senate every other week and keeps records of all SGA meetings. The Secretary is also charged with informing the student body of actions of the SGA. During Senate, however, the Executive Secretary only has voice privileges, not voting.”

Treasurer Candidate:
Hamlett: “As treasurer, I am held financially responsible for all actions of SGA, from the Howdy-Party at the start of the school year to all the senate bills asking for money. I give budget updates every senate session as well as supervising the spending of class councils.”

3) If you are elected, what is/are going to be your main goal(s)?
Vice President Candidates:
Morris: “My end goal is to preside over a representative Student Senate that is truly reflective of Union University’s campus in order to improve both student and campus life.”

Grove: : “As President of the Senate, I would seek new ideas on how we could encourage other groups and organizations, besides the class councils, to present resolutions. This would hopefully encourage more participation in the legislative process of our Senate.”

Office of Secretary Candidates:
Wyatt: My main goal once elected is to serve the campus of Union University to the best of my ability by assisting in running a smooth Senate bi-weekly and helping to put the student’s needs first and foremost in the eyes of the SGA Executive Council.

Ebert: “If I’m elected, I just want to be able to serve the student body in any way possible. I want to be a listening ear for them to come to if they have a concern, and I want to help plan fun events for them to take part in. I also want to be able to help the other officers and especially the President in any way possible so that we are all able to work together to make SGA the best it can be.”

Treasurer Candidate:
Hamlett: “When I become treasurer, I want to be efficient with the allotted funds SGA has been provided and to encourage those who receive those funds to spend it wisely.”

4) Since Union is such a small campus, have you found this election race to be awkward?
Vice President Candidates:
Morris: “I have not honestly found this race to be awkward, but I do feel for friends who know both me and Matthew personally. However, I want them to know that I want them to vote for who they think would serve the position of Vice President best; not necessarily based on obligations to us as their friends. Matthew Grove is a good guy, and he is a good student. Through serving with him on Freshman Council, I know that Matthew would most definitely make a good Vice President. I will be excited for Matthew if he wins because I know that he would serve Union and SGA well. I also have faith that he will be able lead his peers well.”

Grove: “I would not describe it as awkward, but the small size of Union definitely adds a different element to the race. My opponent, Binh Morris, and I got to know each other last year on Freshman Council. The small campus allows word to travel quick and we are often trying to persuade the same people to vote for us.”

Office of Secretary Candidates:
Wyatt: “Actually, I have not found it to be awkward at all! I have worked this semester with Amanda in Sophomore Council and I highly respect her as a very hard worker. I wish her the best luck in her campaign!”

Ebert: “For me, this election hasn’t been awkward at all even though Union is a small campus. If anything, it is just awkward personally because campaigning and asking people to vote for me is so out of my comfort zone, but that doesn’t have anything to do with it being a small campus or knowing James Matthew. I don’t know James Matthew well, but I’ve only ever heard good things about him, so it’s not awkward! I respect him and I think he respects me. Someone’s got to win and someone’s got to lose, and that’s just how this process works!”

6) What is your opinion on SGA communication with students who have questions and ideas?
Vice President Candidates:
Morris: “It is important for all students to know this: Students have full access to student government. If any students ever have any questions or ideas, feel free to approach any Student Government member or Executive All Staff member. The Executive officers want to help and be your voice. Feel free to stop by the SGA office in the SUB anytime.”

Grove: “As a representative of the student body, communication with students on new ideas or questions are imperative. We cannot effectively do our job if we do not know the students’ opinions. Members of SGA must be available and always willing to listen to these proposals. If we disagree or think an idea is not feasible, we have to be able to articulate our reasoning.”

Office of Secretary Candidates:
Wyatt: “Students who have questions and ideas should be able to email the officers or council members and have their questions answered quickly. Our campus is so small that most people should either know or be able to find out quickly who their SGA officers are.”

Treasurer Candidate:
Hamlett: “A cool thing about SGA is how we always listen to students and are constantly looking for fresh ideas to better students’ college experiences. There are open SGA office hours several times during the week where a representative of SGA is available to answer questions, hear student’s concerns and decide if we can take action, or just get to make a new friend.”

7) Is there a person you look up to, for their campaign, leadership, attitude, etc.?
Vice President Candidates:
Morris: “I look up to President-elect Trenton Holloway. Trenton exemplifies Union’s core values: Excellence-Driven, Christ-Centered, People-Focused, and Future Directed. Trenton is always looking for ways to serve and is always outward focused. Trenton is humble and always thinks before he speaks and acts. Thus making him a great future President of Student Government.”

Grove: “I have a deep admiration for Dr. Russell D. Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Moore fights relentlessly for Gospel-centered principles in the public square and is not afraid to speak his mind and stand for Truth. In a world of ever changing cultural climate, Dr. Moore teaches how lead and engage our cultures without losing the heart of the Gospel. As I plan to enter a career in politics, Dr. Moore is always someone I seek to learn from and emulate.”

Office of Secretary Candidates:
Wyatt: “I look up to Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky for his Constitutional Conservative views and his demeanor during the past presidential debates. Carly Fiorina is another recent political figure who has drawn my attention and will continue to garner my respect.”

8) What makes you a better candidate for the position you are seeking rather than your opponent?
Vice President Candidates:
Morris: “Like I said earlier, Matthew is a good guy and a good student. However, I feel that the position of Vice President in Student Government should be given to someone who truly embodies and reflects the entire student population of Union University. I am a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, which gives me access to relationships with Greek life members. I am a Student Ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions which gives me the opportunity to reach out to prospective students while sharing my passion for the University. I have friends from all walks of student life, giving me the ability to hear and be the voice of the entire student body. Therefore, I feel that I am the better candidate for the position of Vice President due to my well-roundedness and campus involvement which gives me the avenues to reflect the campus as a whole.”

Grove: “In my opinion, the role of Vice President is not an entry level position. I have the experience necessary for the job. My time last year as Freshman Council Senator drafting, presenting, and voting on legislation gave me great insights into Senate and how to serve the interests of the students. I am also currently Sophomore Class Treasurer. In this position, I have learned more about the inner workings of SGA All Staff that will be extremely useful in serving on Executive Council and leading our Student Senate. I promise to provide focused leadership you can trust. This goes beyond my own self-interests and to the heart of serving students and our students. We deserve a Vice President with experience that will work relentlessly for the students and lead our Student Senate well.”

Office of Secretary Candidates:
Wyatt: “I believe that I am a better candidate because I am a diverse individual who is not afraid to serve this campus. I work hard in everything that I do and I am prepared to continue to do so. Political office is what I want my future to hold. Wouldn’t you want to look back one day and say, ‘Hey. I remember voting for James Matthew when he ran for SGA Secretary at UU and now he’s running for President!’?”

Ebert: “I think the main thing that stands out between James Matthew and I is my experience in SGA in the past. I’ve been involved with SGA since Freshman Council, and have held two class officer positions, so I know how SGA works and what is expected of me. Regardless of what happens, I think we would both do a great job so Union has no need to worry about the future of SGA.”

Images courtesy of Valerie Brewer, SGA and SGA