Cochran, Hogan face off in debate

William Evans

Students gathered in the Ferguson Center Ballroom on Sunday evening to listen to Student Government Association presidential candidates Coresa Nancy Hogan and Grant Cochran discuss their platforms.

Prospective SGA senators campaigning for office were available for students to approach prior to the presidential debate sponsored by the Residence Hall Association.

In his opening statement, Cochran said, if elected, he could use his experience as this year’s vice president of external affairs to address student concerns as SGA president.

“It is my goal to keep students informed of how their SGA is serving them,” he said.

He plans to post bi-weekly videos on the SGA website that summarize the accomplishments of the SGA during that timeframe, encourage student organizations to invite SGA senators to their meetings and increase student employment, he said.

In her opening statement, Hogan said she wants to focus on uniting the campus body.

“We need to quit talking about uniting this campus and actually do it,” she said.

As this year’s president of the Black Student Union, she said she has worked to bridge gaps among student groups and has coordinated projects that benefited the student body.

In response to tuition hikes, Cochran said he would communicate with the administration to relay the concerns of students to the University.

“I will voice the concern that tuition is rising at an exponential rate,” he said.

In response, Hogan said she would work through the SGA to raise student scholarships to counter the effect of tuition escalation.

To alleviate traffic congestion on campus, Hogan said she would make the alternatives to commuter traffic, such as the CrimsonRide, more effective.

Cochran said he has worked with parking and transportation services for the past two years to address parking concerns and has opened the Student Recreation Center parking to any student with a campus parking pass.

Hogan said she would abstain from financial compensation as SGA president because of the current economic recession.

Cochran said he would do the same if the student body demanded it.

“If it is the consensus of the student body for me not to take a salary, then I will do the same,” he said.

Concerning University President Robert Witt’s goal to expand the student body to 35,000, Hogan said ResNet connectivity and other University resources should be able to accommodate for student growth.

“If we’re going to grow our numbers, then we need to make sure our technology is up to date,” she said.

Cochran said he would work to eliminate the traffic congestion that will undoubtedly result from enrollment increases, but he still sees the growth in enrollment as a positive action.

“The growth of the University is an indispensable asset to maintaining the University’s leadership role in the Southeast,” he said.

For student organization seating in Bryant-Denny Stadium, Hogan said a bias still exists in the application process despite the current SGA administration’s efforts to make the application process fairer than years past.

Cochran said he has been involved in the diversification of student organization seating and can therefore better manage the allocation of seating to student groups in a fair manner.

“I’ve been able to see the conscious effort made to include diverse groups of student organizations in football seats,” he said.

Regarding the importance of the SGA to the student body, Cochran said the most significant function of the SGA lies in its nature as a liaison between the students and the administration.

In response, Hogan said she would address the alienation she said students feel in relation to their SGA.

“When I came here my freshman year, I was that student who felt very disconnected from the SGA,” she said. “There are a lot of students who don’t know what their SGA can do for them. I’ve walked in their shoes.”

In his closing statement, Cochran said he would eliminate student disconnects with the SGA and thereby unify the campus body.

“Unity is my goal,” he said. “I want all of you to join me in pursuit of unification.”

In her closing statement, Hogan said the SGA has sustained a tradition of alienating segments of the student body.

“For far too long, the SGA has left numerous students behind,” she said. “Every year it alienates thousands of students and leaves them behind.”

She said she represents grassroots concerns among the student body whereas Cochran stands for bureaucracy, paperwork and backroom deals.

The presidential candidates relied upon platitudes, such as a value for unity, that do not attack the core issues students encounter, said Chris Izor, a junior majoring in English.

“Unity is such an amorphous idea that it’s easy to blame things on disunity,” he said. “We often use trivial issues to criticize our campus or to talk about progress that needs to be made, but all these trivial matters come from a flawed approach to student involvement. So often the criticisms don’t acknowledge that a lot of the University misunderstands students or makes decisions for students.”

The meet-and-greet of SGA senate candidates prior to the presidential debate compensated for the candidates’ inability to chalk on campus sidewalks due to a revision of campaigning guidelines, said Gray West, a sophomore majoring in theatre and advertising.

“Students have to be able to put a name with a face, and if they can’t do that, then there’s no point in voting,” he said. “I have not known there to be an opportunity for students to meet their senate candidates. It needs to continue.”