Student Government holds Presidential and Vice Presidential Debate


Riley Hazel

The Presidential and Vice Presidential Debate took place last Thursday in the Cohen Student Union.

Riley Hazel, Assignment and Features Editor

Student Body Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates took part in a debate last Thursday night to present their tickets as elections open this week.

Here are the candidates:

  • Presidential candidate Brooke Alfalsa and Vice Presidential Candidate Mariah Roller
  • Presidential candidate Grace Brannigan and Vice Presidential candidate Tyler Varnadore
  • Presidential candidate Abigail Hernandez and Vice Presidential Candidate Moe Bachman

Presidential candidate Brooke Alfasa and Vice Presidential candidate Mariah Roller is focusing on bringing accessibility, collaboration and advocacy to Student Government.

“As a student with a disability, I recognize that accessibility in our institutions, our student organizations and Student Government itself is very important,” Roller said. “Because if not everyone has the same chance to be involved, then their voices aren’t being heard.”

Roller currently serves as the Director of Government Relations in the Executive cabinet, a position appointed by the Student Body President. Alfasa, a junior majoring in digital media and design, is the current Director of Student Experience.

Presidential candidate Grace Brannigan and Vice Presidential candidate Tyler Varnadore vowed to equitably hiring their cabinet during last week’s debate.

“We’re going to prioritize the applications of people of color, Latinx people, queer people and women before people of other identities to ensure the groups that are historically underrepresented at FGCU and underrepresented in Student Government are being overrepresented in our cabinet with us,” Brannigan said.

Brannigan is the current Senate President. Her running mate, Vannadore, was appointed as Treasurer by current Student Body President, Alyssa Fleischer last October. Their main focus is on accessibility, connection and together.

Presidential candidate Abigail Hernandez and Vice Presidential candidate Moe Bachman’s campaign aims at balance, adaptability and stability.

“We want to acknowledge filling seats, so representation of every academic college,” Bachman said. “So, step one is filling our seats. Next, we are going to see this as an opportunity to combine these communities from across campus. By combining all of these communities, we’re able to see the power and the voices in Student Government and work together, to work more powerfully and more effectively.”

As of February 2022, four of six colleges are not being represented within the Student Government Senate. Hernandez sees filling seats as a priority if elected.

All candidates were in favor of a presidential newsletter, an idea brought up by Varnadore during the debate.

“Accessibility brings forward our desire to make sure that the student body is up to date as much as possible,” Varnadore said. “[We want to enact] presidential newsletters and then also revamp our RSO training to ensure that it is more digestible for our student leaders.”

Alfasa and Roller were asked how to streamline solutions about issues with faculty and professors and if there should be a yearly or bi-yearly evaluation.

“The job of professors is to teach their students, and if their students aren’t learning or their students aren’t feeling welcomed in the classroom, they’re not fulfilling their duties,” Roller said. “You know, one of my pet peeves as a student is the professors who brag about how hard their classes are and the students that don’t pass their class.”

“We are going to stay true to ourselves and our pillars throughout this entire process,” Hernandez said. “It’s a promise to the student bodies that Student Government is going to always move forward.”

In her closing statement, Alfasa touched on her running mate’s experience being a transfer student.

“Some people might see that as lacking maybe knowledge on subjects, but I see it as an opportunity for transfer students at the school and all over the world,” Alfasa said. “She could have come and just been like, ‘Yeah, no. I’m going to finish my last few years out.’ But she made the best out of her situation. She took the year, and she learned.”

Brannigan chose to highlight FGCU’s 25th anniversary during her closing statement.

“We would be FGCU 25th Student Body President and Vice President, and if it takes just us just a little cultural change… Eventually, when FGCU is 50, this will be a place that we’re proud to say that we went to, and this will be a place that I wish that my kids could go to,” Brannigan said.

Elections opened March 1 at 8 a.m. and close March 3 at 5 p.m. To cast your ballot, log into Eagle Link with your student email and click “It’s Election Time” on the home screen. Only FGCU degree-seeking students are eligible to vote.

Results will be announced on March 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Boardwalk.

If you missed the debate, you can watch here. Debate coverage starts at 15 minutes in.

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Contact Supervisor of Elections Emory Cavin ([email protected]) for any questions regarding the election.