Prophet challenges Schmitt to unconventional SGA executive VP debate

Sarah Clifton, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note (2/21/2023): This story has been updated to include the question submission form for the presidential debate. 

Elizabeth Prophet, current senator for the School of Social Work and candidate for the executive vice presidency in the spring 2023 Student Government Association election, has challenged Josie Schmitt, current executive secretary and opposing vice president candidate, to a vice presidential debate.  

Prophet sent the challenge to Schmitt and the SGA Elections Board via email. The challenge wished Schmitt luck in the upcoming election and suggested that the debate could take place before the presidential debate on Feb. 26. Prophet also noted that a vice presidential debate would be “an excellent opportunity to showcase [their] passion for SGA.” 

At the time of publication, the email has yet to receive a response, nor have any public decisions been made on whether the debate will be held.  

The debate, if Schmitt accepts the challenge and the Elections Board approves it, will be the first vice-presidential debate The University of Alabama’s SGA has seen in recent years. 

Traditionally, only the presidential candidates participate in a debate if there is a contested election. In 2021, a candidate forum was hosted where every executive candidate spoke about their platform, as every position’s race was uncontested. 

Prophet said the unconventional move was motivated by the 2023 SGA election being an “exciting one” on account of there not being a contested executive vice-presidential election since 2016. 

The last contested executive vice presidential election in 2016 saw two candidates running: Ben Leake and Miranda Cobb. Leake won with 66.2% of the votes. 

Prophet said she wants to give students the “opportunity to hold [SGA candidates] accountable and ensure that [SGA candidates] have tangible ideas to implement.” 

Additionally, Prophet said she sees a debate as a way to bolster her platform point of transparency as well as to increase student voter turnout. 

“Transparency is absolutely essential to the wellbeing of these SGA elections,” Prophet said. “I think this is the best way to get students to feel comfortable, and engaged, and excited again [about student government]. We’re not just Instagram posts and fancy videos on social media. We have a great opportunity here to get students to care about what’s going on, because the truth of it is, students don’t care, and with contested elections, students finally get a choice.” 

The 2023 presidential debate is set to occur on Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Ferguson Theater. Students can submit questions for the debate here. A candidate forum will precede the event at 5 p.m. in the Student Center Great Hall, where students can learn more about candidate platforms.  

Josie Schmitt and the Elections Board did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.