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Student Government Holds Presidential Candidate Debate as Elections Near

Alexandra Cavalier

On Feb. 23, Student Government held a meet and greet for senate candidates, followed by a debate between the presidential tickets. 

 The debate was structured so that in the first half candidates would be asked questions by the moderators. During a short break, members of the audience would have the chance to write down questions, which would then be asked by the moderators in the second part of the evening. 

The debate was moderated by Eagle Media Executive Editor Tori Foltz and Eagle News Editor-in-Chief Abigail Muth.   

Ticket A is Presidential Candidate Ryan Kaczynski and Vice-Presidential Candidate Jackson Chumbley. 

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Ticket B is Presidential Candidate Justin Conklin and Vice-Presidential Candidate Catherine Gonzalez.  

“Every day on campus at FGCU I hear feedback from students talking about things they want to change or see happen on campus, but many of them don’t know where to go with these issues,” Kaczynski said during his opening remarks. “One of my big goals is to impact policy through elevating voices on campus, and a big part of that is getting students involved.” 

 “I decided to run for student body president because I believe that there is so much going on in this university every single year that needs to be addressed,” Conklin said during his opening remarks. “From communication gaps between administration and students to safety and inclusivity issues that have been attacked by our state’s government, I want to foster an environment for this university where every student feels heard, supported and empowered to succeed.” 

After opening statements, Muth asked Kaczynski the first question of the debate, “How would your ticket work to make campus more inclusive for students?”  

“Through meeting with more at-risk groups on campus, we intend to elevate their voices to a volume that all people on campus can hear,” said Kaczynski. “We will work to foster a climate of openness and respect for students and staff members, and we hope to not only elevate them to be heard, but to elevate them to positions where they can take leadership roles on campus.”  

When asked by Muth about what he thought the top issues impacting the student body are, Conklin brought up safety, inclusivity and engagement, the three pillars of his campaign. 

Conklin then listed some of his ideas on how to combat those problems, including implementing a student engagement committee made up of student leaders, and providing resources to students hands-on. 

Chumbley was asked about how he will support the president when conflict arises surrounding campus issues.  

“I’ve worked with Ryan for a long time now and we understand each other pretty well. We’ve served in the senate together, appropriations together, and go to FGCU together. We know how we work together,” Chumbley said. “Just because we work well together doesn’t mean we agree on everything, and I think that’s good. I think we need discourse. That’s what creates progress.” 

Later, Foltz asked Gonzalez “What will you prioritize when bringing issues before the Faculty Senate?” 

“When bringing issues to Faculty Senate, I would prioritize the voices of students. So, direct feedback from students, quotations from our students and I will bring that to them and not put them in my voice, but in their own so that their voices are truly the ones being heard and not my own,” Gonzalez said. 

After Foltz and Muth finished asking questions, a short break was held where audience members had the chance to write their questions, which were then read by the moderators. 

One audience member asked the Conklin-Gonzalez ticket “What is an initiative of the current executive branch that you would like to continue?” 

Gonzalez brought up how they would like to continue reaching the student population and fixing the communication barrier between students and faculty. 

Conklin then added how they would like to continue the eagle shot initiative and student engagement committee initiative.  

Another member of the audience asked the Kaczynski-Chumbley ticket, “Aside from having an open door, what will you do to ensure the student body feels comfortable approaching you with questions or concerns?” 

“I think that I’ve created a pretty good network of people that are comfortable speaking to me as a senator for the College of Business,” Kaczynski said. “If I become student body president, I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble keeping that personable open atmosphere in my office.” 

Chumbley then added that their administration would prioritize availability during their office hours, with a focus on transparency. 

After the audience questions were asked, candidates had three minutes to give their closing statements. 

“We live in a time within FGCU’s history where we see change on campus every single day,” Conklin said. “I invite you to use your voice and be a part of that change so that together we can create and foster an environment where every student feels supported and empowered to succeed.” 

Kaczynski began his closing statements by discussing some of the initiatives his administration would like to implement, including improving campus parking and opening a convenience store in North Lake Village.  

“Our goals are lofty and our drives are unmatched. We will impact the policy that will lift your voices,” Kaczynski said.  

Voting is open, and will close today at 5 p.m. The election results will be announced at 7 p.m. on Thursday night at The Boardwalk restaurant. 

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About the Contributors
Connor Hay
Connor Hay, Business Manager
Connor Hay is a sophomore majoring in accounting. Born and raised in Clearwater, Florida, his first experience working with media was with his high school yearbook. Hay has been involved with Eagle Media since his freshman year. When he is not working in the newsroom, he is watching Formula 1, listening to indie music, or playing pickleball.
Alexandra Cavalier
Alexandra Cavalier, Eagle News Assistant Assignment & Features Editor
Alexandra Cavalier is a junior majoring in journalism. She is from Bradenton, FL, and has been interested in journalism since she joined the yearbook staff during her freshman year of high school. In the future, she hopes to pursue a career in publishing. When not planning her next story, you can find her studying art history or watching movies.

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