Presidential Tickets Share Campaign Aspirations at Candidate Forum


Hayley Lemery

Eagle Media’s Executive Editor Riley Hazel and Eagle News’ Editor-in-Chief Tori Foltz mediated the candidate forum. Ticket A is Presidential Candidate Nicholas Gatain and Vice Presidential Candidate Shiloh Markus (right). Ticket B is Presidential Candidate Emory Cavin and Vice Presidential Candidate Miniya McNair (left).

Abigail Muth, Staff Writer

This year’s presidential and vice presidential candidates met Thursday night for a town hall forum. Different from past debates, candidates were not given the option to respond to one another’s stances or answers to questions.

The forum was mediated by Eagle Media’s Executive Editor Riley Hazel and Eagle News’ Editor-in-Chief Tori Foltz. Candidates started the night off with opening statements. They were then asked questions by the mediators, followed by a brief intermission. Audience members were allowed to submit questions for the candidates before the forum started or during the intermission. 

Ticket A is Presidential Candidate Nicholas Gatian and Vice Presidential Candidate Shiloh Markus. Ticket B is Presidential Candidate Emory Cavin and Vice Presidential Candidate Miniya McNair.

“We are running to make impactful change at FGCU and are extremely passionate about doing so,” Vice Presidential Candidate Shiloh Markus said in her ticket’s opening statement. “Our perspectives in student government provide a background for our ability to efficiently lead the student body. Personally, leadership in my eyes is not only the ability to guide others, but the ability to turn thought into actions.”

The Gatian-Markus ticket continued their opening statement by presenting the three pillars to their campaign: diversity, consistency and awareness. One of their goals if elected is to implement monthly student government forums, which would be a way for students to present their ideas directly to the ticket. They will also aim to include more vegan and kosher meal options on campus, potentially start a trail-cleanup taskforce and increase student involvement and engagement with Student Government overall. 

“Our student body is a melting pot of cultures, experiences and backgrounds, and me and [presidential candidate] Emory want to make sure that our student government reflects these things,” Vice Presidential Candidate Miniya McNair said towards the end of her opening statement.

After McNair’s statement concluding opening remarks, Foltz  asked Presidential Candidate Gatian the first question, “How would your ticket work to make campus more inclusive for students?”

With two minutes to answer, Gatian took a long pause and responded stating it is important to reach out to RSOs and departments and let them know they have a voice. Gatain also stated they would work toward having all three branches of Student Government representing all different cultures and identities. 

Foltz then asked Presidential Candidate Emory Cavin, “If a student came to you with complaints about controversial or offensive beliefs being expressed on campus, how would you address it?” 

Presidential Candidate Emory Cavin and Vice Presidential Candidate Miniya McNair speak at the candidate forum on Feb. 23, 2023. (Hayley Lemery)

“Well, I take it incredibly seriously. A core part of our campaign is that there’s absolutely no room for hate in any form on this campus, and I firmly believe that,” Cavin said. “I would immediately explore our options for what we could do as a response. And I would publicly condemn the actions of the perpetrator in that situation.”

Cavin also stated that he believes there should be a committee tasked with handling these types of situations in which they could turn to for advice or assistance. 

When asked how she would advocate for students if put into the role of vice president, Markus brought up bringing more awareness to Student Government in addition to making sure their Senate represents the population of students at FGCU. 

“Also, I am open to emails, meetings; I will obviously have office hours,” Markus said. “These are all different ways that you can reach me and I will try to be as open as I can and aware of the position that I hold and what I can potentially do for students.”

McNair was then asked, “What are the biggest challenges facing Student Government right now?” 

“I believe the problems that students are really struggling with currently is working that gap between the regular student body,” McNair said. “And a lot of times we don’t know what’s going on in Student Government besides anything that they post on social media, and that’s very rarely what is actually going on.”

After Foltz and Hazel had asked all the allotted questions, they then gave the audience and candidates a 20 minute intermission, allowing students to submit questions for the candidates. 

Presidential Candidate Nicholas Gatian and Vice Presidential Candidate Shiloh Markus speak at the candidate forum on Feb. 23, 2023. (Hayley Lemery)

One student submitted the question, “How will you make sure the voices of students are heard if you are elected and serve on the Board of Trustees?” 

Gatian replied saying they would make sure students are involved in asking questions to the Board of Trustees and speaking to students in attendance before meetings to find out what they want or need Gatian to speak up on. 

When asked how he would work with FGCU’s new president to advocate for students, Cavin said, “That’s an opportunity for us to meet and communicate what the student body is about and what our priorities are. And I don’t mean that in a forceful or argumentative way. I intend to do that by creating a real relationship with them.”

Presidential candidates were then given three minutes to share their closing statements with the audience. 

“If each and every one of you allow us to be your next president and vice president, we won’t let you down,” Gatian said, ending their closing comment. “We will always be transparent with you and we will make sure our ideas come to fruition. I know we can make FGCU a better place to learn and live.”

When beginning his closing statement, Cavin started out by saying he did not plan on staying long at FGCU when he was accepted as a freshman and planned to save up money to transfer. 

At the end of Cavin’s closing remarks, he said, “And that is the student body that made me realize that there is no place that I’d rather be than in this little corner in Southwest Florida and the small university called FGCU that has students that will change the world. Miniya and I talk about diversity, empathy, giving voices to the voiceless and these are lofty terms, but I assure you that motivation is specific. We did not select them out of political convenience but because the people on this campus drive us.”

Voting will open on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 8 a.m. and will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 2.