UCF SGA presidential candidates identify main priorities, platform points at final debate

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UCF SGA presidential candidates discussed their most important platform points and explained their plans to accomplish them at the second and final UCF SGA presidential debate Wednesday night.

The debate, held in the Live Oak Ballroom in Ferrell Commons, centered on diversity, safety and SGA involvement, mirroring themes brought up at the first debate on Feb. 20.

Presidential candidate Karen Caudillo and vice presidential candidate Theressa Tong identified diversity and inclusion as their main priority to tackle, Caudillo said.

“We want to expand the diversity positions that exist in the executive branch,” Caudillo said.

Brad Kuehler, who is running for president with running mate Breon Clark, said his and Clark’s main platform point focuses on safety and creating a UCF Police Department dispatch center in the Student Union.

“The Student Union is currently expanding into three separate phases right now, and very soon it will be moving to certain areas like the second and third floor, which means the first floor will have some openings, and we would love to bring in the UCF Police Department and have an officer or two present there,” Kuehler said.

David Oglethorpe, communications coordinator of the Office of Student Involvement, confirmed the Student Union expansion and said Kuehler and Clark’s UCF PD dispatch center is a new idea.

“We have several areas that would currently be able to facilitate [the UCF PD dispatch] initiative, however nothing has been discussed,” Oglethorpe said in a Sunday email. “We’re open to any idea that creates a safer environment for our students.”

Presidential candidate Josh Boloña said he and vice presidential candidate Jad Shalhoub want the student body to interact more with SGA.

“One of the things we promise to do is revisit every organization that we’ve seen during the campaign as well tabling biweekly,” Boloña said.

The debate transitioned into questions centered on the plans and promises of each campaign.

One of Kuehler and Clark’s platform promises is to cut wasteful spending by eliminating non-essential paid SGA positions, according to their website.

When asked what positions were not essential to SGA, Kuehler avoided naming specific positions. He said the Cabinet is always changing and cutting positions, and it’s not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings.

“We have a feeling we can do more [for] inclusion, more partnering with departments and provide more programs and services for students,” Kuehler said. “We can restructure the Cabinet in that way to make it fit and find any areas that can be trimmed and that’s what we want to do.”

Caudillo and Tong explained the flaws in the My.UCF website and how the duo plans to improve it. Caudillo suggested the website could be more user-friendly and suggested a section with a PowerPoint explaining how to navigate a degree audit or FAFSA account.

“Especially being a student that is first generation, it is really difficult to read a degree audit because you don’t have your parents there to help you,” Tong said.

Shalhoub explained how he and Boloña came up with the idea to create a “Student Health Coordinator” Cabinet position, which would help create awareness for issues such as mental health, drugs, alcohol and sexual assault.

He said the two came up with the position after hearing about students who abuse drugs and alcohol. For the 2016-17 year, 44 percent of UCF Counseling and Psychological Services clients had an elevated Counseling Center Awareness of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS) score that was above the national average for substance use, according to the most recent UCF CAPS annual report.

“I’ve had some of my best friends experience some of the worst mental health issues that exist,” Shalhoub said. “I never want that to happen to anyone else.”

Boloña said he felt confident with the outcome of the debate.

“I think we showed the crowd that we are the most balanced ticket,” Boloña said. “One of the things that sets us apart is that everything we have spoken out on platform are creating solutions for student needs, not potential partnering. We are here to provide real solutions.”

Kuehler also agreed the debate went well, while Caudillo said she was more comfortable at the first debate due to an upcoming test.

“At the end of the day I am here at UCF to make a difference, and I am here to stand for the students who haven’t had a voice,” Caudillo said.

Voting for UCF SGA presidential elections is held March 5 through March 7 on MyUCF.com.edu.