Within the past year, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion was defunded, UT settled a large Title IX lawsuit, a new athletic director and chancellor were appointed and a new president of the United States was elected.
Now the smoke has cleared and the waters have calmed, and UT students are faced with the question of what comes next.
This is the question that this year's SGA candidates needed to answer, and on Thursday night, April 6, they addressed their fellow students to discuss their campaign platforms.
Discussion, however, was all that occurred. In sharp contrast to last year's SGA election season, there were no solid arguments presented, and real debate among candidates was nonexistent.
As a result, the choice between campaigns became one of personality instead of policy, as all the candidates' platforms agreed. After listening to each campaign, Morgan Mickey Hunter, consisting of Morgan Hartgrove, Michael “Mickey” Curtis and Hunter Jones as president, vice president and student services director, respectively, proved to be the most approachable, experienced and genuine group of candidates.
The night started with the vice presidential debate in which both Curtis and Kiersten Marsh from the LIT campaign showed clear confidence in delivering their views. Both candidates gave eloquent answers and impressed us with their knowledge and preparedness for the topics discussed.
However, Curtis showed more enthusiasm and passion in his explanations and desired policies. His extensive involvement in campus organizations outside of SGA showed that he is aware not only of the inner workings of student government but also of the greater needs of the campus community.
From fair treatment of facilities services and promoting diversity to the importance of orientation for first year students, Curtis spoke about policy from a personal standpoint, bringing in anecdotes about meeting a library worker, founding Brothers United for Excellence and serving as an orientation leader.
While Emily Dickey from the Unite UT campaign agreed with Curtis and Marsh on most topics, she lacked the composure and professionalism of the other two campaigns.
In the presidential candidate debate, the Morgan Mickey Hunter and LIT campaigns stole the spotlight again.
Both Hartgrove and Beverly Banks, presidential candidate for the LIT campaign, gave well thought out and informed responses, but Hartgrove made a concerted effort to back up her policies with research and studies.
When talking about Safe Zone training, she mentioned the effects from the program fade after a short time period, so continuous training should be practiced. Training remained a theme for Hartgrove on each topic, including guns on campus and bystander intervention.
Every campaign emphasized putting student opinion first, but Hartgrove's dedication to this stood out from the rest. When asked about her beliefs on one of the night's topics, Hartgrove responded that she would not act on her personal opinion and call it public service.
Overall, none of the candidates answered the question of what comes next, but Morgan Mickey Hunter seemed to grasp the importance of finding an answer more than any other campaign.
With a new chancellor on campus, Morgan Mickey Hunter emphasized the opportunity for making immediate, impactful change and promised to be the leaders that students need.