Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

SODEL hosts forum for SGA candidates


Students for Open Doors and Ethical Leadership hosted an SGA election meet-and-greet and executive position forum in Lloyd Auditorium Sunday night. Moderated by Norman Baldwin, a professor in the political science department, the forum featured most candidates running for next year’s executive offices.

Sponsored by SODEL and the Academic Honor Council, the event opened with statements and a brief debate between Khortlan Patterson and Polly Ricketts, candidates for executive secretary, followed by Christopher Willis, the sole candidate for executive vice president.

Elliot Spillers and Steven Kellers, candidates for vice president of student affairs, followed Willis. Kellers pledged to work with student groups to enact broad change on campus, saying he would like to “meet personally” with student organizations if elected. Spillers laid out his platform as well, focusing on the Capstone Pledge, expanding community service and building up unity week next year.

“My reason for running is because all of us should uphold the idea that we are connected as one student body,” Spillers said. “Our tradition at UA is what makes us unique.”

Current SGA Treasurer Andrew Gross is running unopposed for position of VP of financial affairs and said he hopes to continue expanding scholarship programs and the SGA Endowment Fund next year.

“A huge part of taking this to the next level is a marketing campaign. We need to teach students what benefits SGA provides,” Gross said.

Afterward, current SGA Director of Scholarships Drew Bridges, running unopposed for VP of external affairs, said he hopes to expand Crimson Ride and Downtown Express, as well as create a forum in which students can regularly interact with the Tuscaloosa City Council in the Ferguson Center.

“Something interesting we don’t think about a lot is that a lot of restaurants and bars and companies really thrive on student life, but students don’t have a voice in their decision,” Bridges said. “Students and residents tend to live in the same neighborhood, but there’s a battle going on over things like trash and throwing parties. … We need to bridge the gap between Town and Gown.”

Two candidates are running for VP of academic affairs: current Senate Secretary Laura Gregory and Chris Simmons. Gregory said she hopes to create a textbook exchange program, a campuswide honor campaign and a student mentorship programs.

“I have a younger brother, a senior in high school,” Gregory said. “He hasn’t decided if he wants to come to UA yet. I believe it is our job as student leaders to leave this campus better than we left it.”

Simmons is campaigning for more student-led teaching jobs, and he hopes to standardize the plus/minus system.

“I want to make an A every time,” Simmons said.

The debate concluded with a longer exchange between current VP of Student Affairs Hamilton Bloom and C&IS Senator Justin Thompson, both running for SGA president. Each was asked questions about his qualifications, with Bloom focusing on his extensive sponsorship of legislation and his experience institutionalizing SGA Programs like RecycleBama and Know Your Rights, and Thompson focusing on his founding of a local chapter of his fraternity. Bloom and Thompson were also asked how they would promote diversity on campus, saying they would both attempt to communicate with the student body as openly as possible.

“We need more diversity in SGA,” Thompson said. “We need to take a strong stand for diversity, not only for the Greek system, but for everywhere. I can’t speak from someone else’s perspective, but I’m openly gay. So I know what it’s like to be underrepresented.”

After the candidates finished their statements, students were given a chance to engage in an informal meet-and-greet with them. Two more debates are scheduled for SGA. Vice presidential candidates will have their debate on March 6 and a presidential debate will be held March 10. Elections will be held on March 11 on myBama. More information on all the candidates can be found at

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