pres pose 3 1 of 5Siddharth Srikakolapu

pres pose 2 1 of 2Erica Webb

pres pose 1 1 of 4Kevin Pittman

Photos by Laykn Shepard / Photo Editor

Lauren Moore/Campus Editor

As a young and growing institution, UAB looks to student leaders to help shape the future of the university. USGA hosted their 2018 Presidential Debate Thursday, March 1.

The initial debate for presidential candidates consisted of three sections each lasting ten minutes.

Siddharth Srikakolapu a junior in philosophy, said some of his main goals are: sustainability on campus, creating an online UAB student chat similar to the yik-yak app, more counselors in the Student Health and Wellness center.

“This app will help break the disconnect we have between USGA and the student body,” Srikakolapu said.

Erica Webb, junior in English and political science, said she wants to make changes that include multicultural safe spaces, improving Title IX standards and advocating for the menstrual hygiene product movement on campus.

“I’m an advocacy-based person,” Webb said. “I’m all over campus making sure I’m listening to these voices.”

Kevin Pittman, a junior in business management, said his goals include a virtual One Card, improving Wi-Fi and implementing an app to report dangerous habits.

“I could really help the students’ voices to be heard,” Pittman said.

In the first section, candidates were asked what they thought made them qualified to be the new USGA President. Pittman said he is open to constructive criticism and wants to help, especially transfer students and incoming freshmen. Webb referenced her work with Generation Action and her joint initiative to start using digital receipt systems on campus.

“I place a lot of power in the students; I would put their wants and opinions over my own,” Srikakolapu said.

In the second section, candidates were asked to state their platforms in connection to random questions from the moderator.

Srikakolapu said he wishes to improve food choices on campus, potentially bringing back food trucks. He also said he wants to push for more survey responses to improve USGA visibility as well as make an effort to collect information from nontraditional students.

Pittman said he is open and approachable on athletes’ needs. He would also like to improve student attendance for sporting events.

In addition to continuing her work with Title IX, Webb said she wishes to speak to incoming students on sexual consent.

In the third debate section, candidates were asked questions regarding issues with student engagement.

Webb said she wishes to improve signage for commuter parking, working to better communicate in advance when certain lots will be closed to students. She also wishes to accommodate nontraditional students, such as parents and transfer students.

“To truly represent the student body, we need to address all different parts of UAB and not just our traditional students,” Webb said.

Srikakolapu said he seeks to further develop peer coaching at the Student Health and Wellness Center and inform staff on how to spot warning signs when it comes to students’ mental health. Pittman said he would like to implement an app where students can report dangerous habits.

Next, candidates were asked random questions by the moderator with first-come-first-serve responses.

When asked about the Freshman Forum program, Srikakolapu said it’s about bringing one-on-one contact between students and administration. Meanwhile, Webb said it’s about working with self-esteem and talking with community stakeholders.

To conclude the debate, candidates addressed keeping senators accountable. Webb spoke on increasing the visibility of USGA. Srikakolapu said it’s important that the senate makes the most of their last two months of the year.

Students can vote March 6 on Blazernet.

Interviews with the Candidates

Sufia Alam/Campus Editor

Siddharth Srikakolapu

1. What inspired you to be a part of USGA?

I’m the kind of person when they look at a process, when they look at something on campus, they immediately want to make it better. The perfect way for me to do something about the problems I saw on campus was to join student government.

2. Why are you running?

I bring a lot of experience to the table. I bring more experience than the other candidates. This will be my fourth year in student government. I am running because I know what to do as president. I also want to build on ideas that I started as executive president.

3. What are some of the main parts of your campaign?

The four points on my platform are: sustainability, student life, health and wellness and student engagement. The key part of our platform is student engagement. When I’ve talked to classes about if they have been able to express their concerns to USGA, I’ve noticed a disconnect. Through these initiatives, I believe we will be able to reach the needs of all students.

4. What is the biggest change you would like to happen with your presidency?

I’m going to listen to my classmates over anyone else. When I’m talking to my classes, I’ve been giving out my phone number. If students have a problem, I want them to call me. I want them to get upset at me. I want them to ask why I’m not doing my job. If USGA isn’t communicating the issues that are going on around campus [to students], then we’re doing something wrong. I have the experience they need to bring change to campus.

5. Why should students vote for you?

Being president is a huge responsibility. To succeed in this job, you have to know about the nuisances to work with admiration. At the end of the day, administration makes a lot of decisions. I can recognize what is going to feasible and I can recognize which routes to pursue. I can truly represent the student body at UAB.

Erica Webb

1. What inspired you to be a part of USGA?

I was originally inspired to come to UAB because I was arriving to college as UAB football was going out. The student movement that was happening, that fire, I got to witness the fighters and the advocates. I knew with the work that I wanted to go into, with law and human rights, I wanted to channel that energy into my education. So now that I’m here. I want to run for president because I want to take that energy that I saw then and I continue to see and channel it to every part of the bureaucratic agency that we have here.

2. Why are you running?

The biggest thing I’ve learned is how every small change takes so much effort, and that’s why it’s important to have dedicated people in these offices. Also as president, I would be sure to consider that along with the appointed positions, USGA selects to represent the students fairly and accurately.

3. What are some of the main parts of your campaign?

I want to make sure people know the projects that I’m already working on and the ones I’ve been working on with others. I want to make sure students know about the projects that are currently happening so that we can take it to the next level on a presidential platform.

4. What is the biggest change you would like to happen with your presidency?

None of these other projects and initiatives matter if we don’t have the student voice. I think we have a problem with communication. For some students, they don’t even fully understand what student government is. Not only hosting town halls, I want to see a lot more tabling, a lot more senators actively talking to their classes when we have bills or initiatives so we can fully serve all students.

5. Why should students vote for you?

I am an advocacy-based person, that’s what I’ve shaped my life around. I’m going to make sure that these voices are represented. Also as an RA, I literally live where I work. I have resiliency to keep pushing. Change happens slowly, but I’m here for the fight.

Kevin Pittman

1. What inspired you to be a part of USGA?

Back in freshman year, I always wanted to be a part of the school but didn’t know how to bring change. In my sophomore year, I realized I wanted to be part of student government. And here I am now, running for president.

2. Why are you running?

I have a different perspective on life and how USGA is handled. I want all the other leader’s voices heard through partnerships to build the school up. I want to partner to get better Wi-Fi and just encompass all things that can improve our school.

3. What are some of the main parts of your campaign?

I want to build the campus community. I want to focus on campus resources, advocate change and bring more technology innovation. I want to have an app where students can report bad behavior on campus or if they feel threatened. Lastly, I think bringing in a virtual one card will make everyone’s life easier.

4. What is the change you would like to bring as president to USGA?

Feminine products in the bathroom. That would be a very big victory not just for women but for men too. We can show that our school isn’t just patriarchal system. We can be very diverse and very liberal.

5. Why should students vote for you?

I know everybody promises to hear your voice, but I truly believe I can hear their voice and write down their ideas. The student body is complex, and people don’t understand that. I’m confident that I can reach the voices of all students from commuters to transfer students and accommodate to all their needs.

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