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

Presidential candidates face off in final debate


The SGA presidential debate Monday night between Hamilton Bloom and Justin Thompson covered various areas of concern for students and the candidates. Bloom, the current vice president for student affairs, spoke on the topics of SGA’s involvement on campus and the voice of the average student. Thompson, currently an SGA senator, focused mostly on the issues of diversity on campus and the changing of the current SGA system.

Bob McCurley, former director of the Alabama Law Institute, mediated the debate and opened up the night by asking the candidates what they thought was the most urgent priority for the SGA. Bloom said he believes the most urgent issue is the need for a diversity caucus, which he said would get the SGA more involved on campus.

“SGA doesn’t need to just get involved with more students who are part of organizations; it needs to get involved with students who have no affiliation and get them associated with organizations, too,” Bloom said. “This will help us make sure that all students have a voice.”

(See also “Uniting, engaging, sustaining UA to repair broken, stagnant SGA“)

Thompson said he believes the most urgent issue is the need for a smoking restriction on campus, that a non-smoking campus would lead to healthier lives and that many students would back this policy.

Thompson also spoke at length about his belief that minority groups do not have enough of a voice on campus.

“It is known that I am openly gay,” Thompson said. “My motto is to unite this campus regardless of race, gender, sexuality, how much money you have, where you’re from or your Greek affiliation.”

Thompson reiterated throughout the debate that not everyone on campus has a say in important matters, especially minorities in student government. Thompson said he saw, as a senator, the need to “change the system” to ensure transparency in the student government.

“As a member of the Senate, I did not have as much influence as I expected, and my committee was often left out of important issues on campus,” Thompson said.

(See also “Candidates prepare for 2014 SGA elections“)

Bloom also expressed concern over diversity. He said there are three organizations already present on campus that are committed to giving more students across campus say in important matters, and Bloom showed his full support for backing these organizations.

“There is no need to recreate something that already exists,” Bloom said. “It would be much more beneficial to support the organizations that are already present.”

The strengths and weaknesses of each candidate were also made key issues throughout the debate. Bloom, who has been a member of SGA for most of his time at Alabama, has the name recognition and experience but said his main weakness is caring so much about so many issues, causing him to micromanage situations.

Thompson said work experience is a weakness he recognizes but that during his time as a senator he has co-sponsored successful bills. He specifically mentioned the resolution to formally apologize to Auburn for the absence of SGA to present the ODK-Sportsmanship trophy that is given yearly to the winner of the Iron Bowl.

Both candidates said they think they are the better candidate to recognize the issues that face the student body as a whole. Bloom said his track record of listening to both sides of a situation will help him make sure all voices and concerns are heard and turn these ideas into action. Thompson said all students on campus need to have an equal say and said race, Greek affiliation and gender have an effect on who becomes influential on campus.

In the closing statements, both candidates told the audience why they deserve the position. Bloom said qualifications are very important when electing an official and assured the audience he is the most-qualified candidate for president. Thompson said being able to reach out to people is an influential quality in the eyes of the unbiased voter as well and that he would make sure everyone felt that they had a home.

Both candidates saw support from the crowd.

“Bloom has the experience, and Thompson can get things done,” audience member and Engineering Senate candidate Bill Sanders said. “Both men would make great presidents.”

(See also “If elected, transparency, diversity will be a high priority in the SGA“)

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