SGA presidential candidates face off in debate


Zoe Brunton

Student Government Association presidential candidates Rabiyatou Bah, left, and Zack Buster at the debate on Monday.

Sierra Barnes, Reporter

The two candidates running for Student Government Association president said on Monday they will improve communication between the SGA and student clubs.

First-year engineering student Rabiyatou Bah, 19, and second-year communications student Zack Buster, 20, faced off in a debate in the Student Union building cafeteria.

“That’s what my platform is, mainly,” Bah, who serves as the SGA vice president of campus activities this semester, said. “I realized that this is a really big problem on campus … that a lot of students are not aware of the kinds of events that we run, the main problem being that they’re not aware of The Nest.”

The Nest is a website for student clubs and the SGA to promote their events.

Buster, who served as the student newspaper’s editor-in-chief this school year, agreed that the information flow between students and campus leaders could use improvement.

“One of the main reasons why I started running for student body president was because I noticed that a lot of decisions were being made without student opinions being considered,” Buster said. 

Buster said SGA could make better use of the communication tools available on campus.

The candidates also said they would advocate for changes to the process for approving funding to student clubs.

Clubs submit budget requests to the SGA each year for the officers to consider. This school year, club budgets, which are paid from student activity fees, were capped at $3,000 for most student organizations.

“I think what needs to change is that funding should be moreso based on member participation,” Bah said. “I think there are clubs out here on this campus that are a lot larger than some others and … that $3,000 cap is just not sufficient for what they want to do.”

Bah added: “Saying that funds should be population based is just to give clubs a more fair chance at getting the funding that they need.”

But Buster said student clubs, regardless of their size, are “really important.”

“So it’s important that we don’t necessarily devalue clubs that don’t have as much membership,” Buster said. “Because if you devalue the club and then they …can’t do a lot of events, then they lose members and it becomes a circular cycle.”

Still, Buster agreed, “Some clubs need more money than others.”

Both candidates agreed that the SGA should continue to encourage clubs to hold some of their events virtually. 

“Virtual events are extremely important, especially when engaging online students,” Bah said. “There are people who don’t actually ever come on campus, and they do their entire schooling online. So to have those events available for them virtually is going to be very important to engaging those students.”

Buster agreed that virtual events help engage online students. 

“For a year I was an online student [and] I was not engaged in anything,” Buster said.

Bah finished her remarks by saying she will “be unapologetically myself. I will not change myself  to fit this role or bend any rules or try to shift my morals in any kind of way because I know that a lot of times when people find themselves in places of power … their mindset shifts a little bit.”

Buster promised to “fight for you as president. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past year [as editor], and I want to continue to do that for you as your SGA president.”

Outgoing SGA President Abigail Billovits-Hayes, who will graduate in May, said the purpose of the debate was to “give students the opportunity to … actually see the candidate, hear them talk … hear what kind of knowledge they have.”