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

SGA presidential candidates take the stage in only public debate


The air of the 2017 SGA Presidential Debate was one of cordiality tinged with acerbity, as candidates argued over policy, interspersed with allegations of bias and attempted smear campaigns.

The event, hosted by the United Alabama Project, was held in the Ferguson Student Center Ballroom where students crowded in and, in spectator-sport fashion, loudly exclaimed their support for their preferred candidates. The SGA presidential hopefuls answered questions from moderator and news editor Jordan LaPorta, a senior history and political science major, on a wide variety of issues.

The three candidates, lined up from left to right—Gene Fulmer, business senator; Jared Hunter, director of Campus involvement; Lillian Roth, incumbent president—often found common ground on issues such as mental health and sexual assault.

All candidates also spoke on the need to increase transparency among the Student Government Association operations, to make their progress in helping students visible and available to all students on campus.

In personal questions, candidates went on the defensive against doubts that they could adequately represent all students. Questions about Lillian Roth’s former ties to the Machine made hushed excitement filter through the crowd as the candidate was forced to acknowledge not only her former affiliation, but her denial of that affiliation last year.

“I thought acknowledging my backing would deter voters from understanding my true passion for every student,” Roth said.

She insisted that the Machine’s refusal to back her in the current election was proof that she was uncompromising in representing all students on campus, not just the Greek system-affiliated minority represented in the Machine.

Hunter, who has publicly admitted to being backed by the Machine, was questioned about the motivation of his honesty.

“I am dedicated to serving students, and that means all students,” Hunter said.

Pointing to his campaign platforms of free refills in Bryant-Denny Stadium for souvenir cups and increased Dining Dollar options both on and off campus, Hunter said that his backing would not prevent him from being able to act for all students.

Fulmer faced doubts regarding his experience, since as a senator he only introduced two pieces of legislation in the past year, and his ability. With his former supporters, the Capstone Coalition, publicly announcing Roth as their preferred candidate, Fulmer was asked if this indicated a lack of faith even from his former base in his ability to fill the role of SGA President.

“I know UA so much more than the Student Government,” Fulmer said.

Stating that legislation was tiresome, he indicated that his activity on campus in the Center for Service and Leadership and as a Residential Advisor better provided him with knowledge of a diverse group of students on campus and their needs. He also stated that he decided to run without the Coalition’s assistance because he wished to run a truly independent campaign.

Hunter, who was formerly on media blackout due to violations involving a bar tab at his kickoff event, had to defend his own involvement with said violations, but went on the offensive stating that Roth’s campaign attempted to smear his character.

In addition, Roth faced questions over her potential ties to fellow sorority member and Elections Board chair, Keeli Mallory.

While candidates at times were terse with each other over campaign practices, they spoke relatively highly of one another’s personal integrity, and, when possible, kept conversation focused on providing benefit to the student body.

The elections will take place onTuesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Voting will take place through the MyBama webpage.

Editor’s Note: Jordan LaPorta had no involvement in the reporting or editing of this coverage.

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