Four of the five SGA officer positions drew no opposition.
By Pam Paz
Only four of the six 2015-16 Student Government Association officer candidates, 17 students and one faculty member showed for the SGA candidate forum Thursday in the Fiesta Room of Loftin Student Center.
Running unopposed are Harley Williams, psychology sophomore and current SGA vice president, for president; Italli Liberatore, pre-med biology sophomore and current SGA secretary, for treasurer; fine arts sophomore Federico Gonzalez-Vidal for secretary; business administration sophomore David Puente for parliamentarian.
Two candidates are vying for the post of vice president: Jami Keeton, liberal arts sophomore and current SGA public relations officer, and dental hygiene sophomore Dionne Garza.
Garza and Liberatore were no-shows.
Garza, Vidal and Puente are the candidates without previous SGA officer experience, though Vidal is the current secretary for the Asian Pop Society Club.
Vidal said he is running because he wants to be a voice for the students.
“I spend a lot of time here at school, so I wanted to be more active,” he said.
Kim-Briana Lorine, speech sophomore and current SGA parliamentarian, opened the questions and asked for the candidates’ viewpoints on Palo Alto College’s petition to have Chancellor Bruce Leslie removed.
Williams said it was important for students to do their own research and know the facts before signing a petition.
“If you’re going to go ahead and sign something, you should know all your facts, and don’t listen to just whoever wants you to sign something,” she said.
Keeton agreed with Williams that students should have their facts straight, but also said she was excited that students were being active and showed so much passion.
The job of student leaders is to ensure students understand and are aware of what’s happening on the campuses and in the Alamo Colleges district, Keeton said.
Vidal also agreed it is great students are being active.
“Even though students might be a little misinformed, a positive thing is that at least students are being active and taking part in what’s important,” he said.
Chris Lopez, human services sophomore and club president and SGA commissioner of student affairs, voiced his disappointment about Garza not showing up. He also asked candidates if they had read the SGA by-laws and constitution.
Puente said he was disappointed at the scarce crowd the forum attracted and said as parliamentarian, he would make it his priority to get the word out to the students about events going on.
He also answered Lopez’s question about the by-laws and constitution. “I don’t know the by-laws, but it’s my job to learn them,” he said.
Math sophomore Jose Luis Antonio Nunez told candidates he heard many adjectives and positive-sounding words but not enough nouns and verbs about SGA.
“I’m not exactly sure what SGA does other than posting pictures on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, and I know that one of the reasons for SGA is to get students involved in activities on campus. I was wondering what you guys think, each of the candidates, would be with respect to providing the focus that SGA would need — if there’s any direction that SGA needs to go in?”
Williams and Keeton talked about their experience in SGA and what SGA has accomplished, such as Student District Council, the student trustee position and SGA’s involvement in San Antonio Higher Education Representative Assembly.
Williams also discussed Student District Council is composed of all the SGA’s within the Alamo Colleges. Together the Student District Council created the trustee position, Williams said.
The assembly, called SAHERA, is represented by students from local colleges and universities and one of their goals is to become active in local government, according to the Dec. 17, 2014, article “UTSA Student Government leads effort to unite area student governments,” in UTSA Today, an online news outlet for the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Williams said one thing she wants to implement, as president, is to visit student development classes to talk to students about SGA as a resource for them.
“Sometimes, we’re up in the office and people don’t know we’re here, but we are,” she said.
Keeton also clarified that SGA does not just post pictures to social media.
“It’s about what students are doing on campus and throughout the district,” she said. “It’s about what students need to get their education, what they need in order to get their degrees, how they get their degrees; it’s how we, as students, let faculty, staff, the Chancellor know exactly what we need in order to get our education.”
Karen Elliot, American Sign Language sophomore and current SGA president, asked the candidates to name one thing SGA is already doing that they would like to see continued in the next school year.
Williams said she would like to for SGA to continue an active role in Student District Council and SAHERA.
Vidal said he wants to see Pizza with the President, a once-a-semester open forum, continue.
“This gives students a chance to ask questions about what’s going on on campus,” he said.
Tiffany Cox, criminal justice professor and SGA faculty adviser, said ballots will be available through ACES beginning at 9 a.m. May 4 and will stay open till noon May 8.
The results of the election will be announced through ACES email May 11.
For more information about SGA and the candidates, call SGA at 210-486-0133.