On Wednesday, February 23 the Student Body Presidential Debate was held in the Union. At the end of the debate, the candidates answered questions submitted by students. The questions and answers can be found below.
All students received an email with the survey to vote. Voting is now open and closes Friday at 10 pm.
Q: Will clubs get funding based on student population or interest, or strictly based on those in charge?
Cody Ford: The idea Judy and I have is having funding allocated based off of overall engagement that our charter clubs see on campus. So, let’s say we have an organization that sees engagement that is dealing with 50 to 60 to 70 students that are coming to their events. That’s a club on campus that is in need of more funding because they’re reaching a broader portion of our campus population. That’s not saying that our clubs on campus that support a smaller group on campus aren’t important, but they’re able to operate because they have a smaller population, they’re able to fulfill their mission and serve the students in the organization well with the smaller amount of funds. I think it really comes down how we can best equitably distribute the funds across campus to engage the most students. Like I said before if that engagement means that we have lots of students in one club and we have, let’s say 10 to 15 students with another club, they don’t need the same amount of funding, they need funding that’s equitable to what they’re trying to achieve and the students are trying to reach on campus.
Q: Can you talk about your thoughts on a new chapel policy and setup?
Pauline Deutcheu: So this idea was sort of brought up and we’re still trying to tinker with how exactly this would work, but maybe offering a Sunday morning chapel. I think we just had one recently. And this chapel could be really great for students who have busy course loads, like student-athletes, also students who are having a hard time finding a home church around the Mechanicsburg area. If you’re not from around this area and it’d just be nice to just go to a place where you can still get your spiritual formation, fellowship, here on campus. I don’t want to say too much about whether this will affect how many chapels you need to get each semester because there’s still a lot of details that need to be worked out, but this is just the initial idea that we’re still exploring.
Q: What is your stance on the current allocation of funds for executive clubs, such as SAB, SGA, et cetera?
Cody Ford: I feel, as it stands now, the executive organizations receive a large portion of the student budget, and a lot of that money often times goes unspent, so working well within the leadership council, which is the leaders of all those executive clubs, to figure out what is the minimum amount of funds that you need to be successful and to be able to keep the level of engagement that you have now so that we can support those 44 to 45 other charter organizations on campus that really need the funding, that have events, that are reaching a broad campus population so that we can one ensure the success of our executive organizations be it MCC with International Gala or having dances in the Union with CSA or LAO or BSU things like that ensuring that they are successful but at the same time that our charter clubs, be it the games association that’s meeting up in the glass conference room or be it other organizations that meet across Boyer, those are the ones that come to mind that really need that increase of funding.
Judy Kyei-Poku: And also using the funding that as Cody said some clubs don’t use all their funding I’m speaking based on MCC, I know that MCC they share one room for all clubs to have their events and it’s gets kind of hectic trying to figure out when you’re going to have your club, what day are you going to have your club, so just using that money to help them find more places on campus so they can have club meetings.
Q: What are some concrete plans that you have for improving life on campus?
Mason Powers: Like what was just said, there’s a large portion of some of the school’s budget that isn’t spent. So an idea that we had was by sanctioning a small portion of that, we can put it into some sort of student-elected fund. So, let’s say that we sanctioned off like a thousand dollars, and then the student body would be able to vote on what that money is spent on. Nobody knows what needs to be fixed on this campus better than the students, so by letting the students directly vote on how some of the money should be spent, not only are we giving the student body a greater voice in how their money is directly spent but we’re going to see the quality of life improvement all around campus.
Q: What is one of your weaknesses and how have you worked to grow?
Judy Kyei-Poku: I guess one of my weaknesses would be time. I’m not the best with time but I’m learning to get better. This year I started using Outlook and putting everything I have to do on Outlook so I know when to do it when it’s due, so getting better at not forgetting college life and being able to have certain days for certain things.
Cody Ford: Yeah I would say one of my weaknesses that I’ve been trying to get better at is just when I lock my eyes on a target I’m sort of dead-set on that’s the only way that we can go, it’s sort of my way or the highway. Really within my role both as a college student and sort of balancing what it means to be leader here on campus I’ve really learned what it means to allow other peers to be influential to me, to speak into my life to speak into my decision making and really be a part of what it means to have a voice on campus. I may be in this role but that doesn’t mean that it’s just me making decisions, I have friends and classmates that are really beneficial, that can speak into what I say, can speak into my voice that I can sort of broadcast across campus.
Q: Will you be vocal about the current socio-political issues that mainstream students and culture on campus doesn’t care to reconcile at all?
Samantha Neal: There are some things that are controversial. I’m going to assume this is kind of in reference to things like what was going on with some recent chapel speakers, that kind of thing, so I’m just going to run with that. Some things are like yes I am going to be vocal about what I believe is right and I believe, you know, taking a firm stance on social issues is right. I do believe in listening to everyone’s opinions and making sure that everyone has a voice, and taking everyone’s opinions into consideration, but me personally, I will be vocal about social and political things that I care about.
Mason Powers: Yeah and our campaign is based off us being vocal about where we stand. Right on our Instagram, we come out right saying that we support the LGBTQ community and we want them to have a bigger representation in just the Messiah community in general. We talked with people in MCC. We want to just have all different viewpoints come together to just make the student body as inclusive as possible.
Pauline Deutctheu: Short answer, yes. I think the only way to really move forward, this is one thing, like, as RAs we go through this training and we talk about the four stages of forming a community. A really crucial stage is storming and that’s not a fun place for anyone to be but you’ve got to get through storming to go to forming the better parts. So it’s going to be tough, some people are going to be uncomfortable, but we really do have to just face it head-on and just treat each other with respect and make it through. We can’t just keep sweeping things under the rug, that’s not going to help anyone.
Mireliz Bermudez: And I think a main part of that question is you said the main campus and I believe that in my position as VP I’m supposed to be vocal for those who feel underrepresented. So in matters of, the majority of our campus might not agree with whatever problem we’re addressing, but for those who are the least and lost I feel like I have to represent that just because nobody else will do that.
Judy Kyei-Poku: The short answer is yes. I am someone who is very passionate about social justice, being able to make everyone feel like they are welcomed and loved especially on a Christian campus such as Messiah, I want everyone who goes here to feel like they’re being heard. These chapels provide us with education on things that maybe we didn’t learn in school or we didn’t learn from the different backgrounds that we came from, so it’s not like they’re just being put on to be put on but they’re actually educating us on the different people that we don’t know about, people who come from different backgrounds, whether it be racial, whether it be ethnical, whether it be like sexuality or anything like that, like it gives you information that you never had before and it allows you to expand your education and spread the love of God by learning about those who make Messiah what Messiah is, and I’m always going to fight for people who are underrepresented, I’m always going to fight for people who feel like they aren’t they aren’t heard because they deserve to have a voice and they deserve to be seen.
Cody Ford: Yeah I think like the rest of the candidates here, the short answer, yes. I think within these roles it’s our job to represent all students on campus regardless of their belief, regardless of who they identify with. I think Judy sort of sums up what our goals are to do and that is to be an advocate for everyone regardless of your views, your stance, who you identify with, what religion, the church you go to, things like that. We’re here for you, even though we may disagree with you, it’s still important that we’re a shoulder you can lean on, someone you can talk to, and just overall here to support you and your desires, your dreams, and your pursuits in life.
Q: Students have been upset about current spending policies; what makes your platform different than the status quo?
Cody Ford: I’m going to assume that this is within SGA because that’s the budget that as student body president, vice president, that we will be directly overseeing. I think what sets us apart is that Judy and I understand the importance of that budget and how it plays into all levels of organization from our executive charter to our recognized clubs on campus. And we have the institutional knowledge to go forth and make the best changes that can affect the broadest number of students on campus. And our goals aren’t to go out there and jack up the price of the student activity fee, our goal is to go out there and find resources and be a connection point to get you plugged in with local businesses. You’ve seen we’ve had Duck Donuts on campus. I have paid very minimal for 12 dozen donuts because I was able to go out and make connections. So applying that to all our clubs on campus to give them an avenue which they can pursue funds on their own.
Pauline Deutcheu: One of the things we talked about is installing more community town halls. I think a lot of students wouldn’t feel as upset if they just knew where their dollars were going. I know in The Swinging Bridge a couple issues back they had an article that basically laid out like ok for my one Messiah dollar in the bill, this is how it gets broken down. And that was really informational, just seeing like oh ok student activities fees oh that goes to the clubs I feel a little bit better about that $125, I do really like those SAB events, so just really being more transparent about where the dollars are going, I think that’s going to go a long way in repairing that relationship with the student body.
Mireliz Bermudez: And I think a bigger part of it as well, I know I’m part of the Poland trip that’s going through the Agape Center, and a large part of that is being able to fundraise your account. So I think some of our clubs and some of our students forget that you can go out and you can do your own fundraising, like a bigger part of it is you taking initiative if you feel like your dollars are not being spend wisely, like the whole idea of SGA is to be your advocate so if you have a problem with where your money is going, you know we have different varieties and people who are assigned to talk to you about that.
Mason Powers: What makes our platform different from the status quo is that we have actual concrete plans on what we want to see changed. We’re not just saying we want to see change, we’re talking about how we want to sanction parts of the budget in order to put it into a that the students can use to vote on what they want to see. We have actual things we want to see changed and another thing that a lot of people have noticed is that there’s not a lot of quality of life changes that are happening for the student body. Messiah spends a lot of money making it a really welcoming place for welcoming students day and then there’s not really, we don’t see a lot of stuff Messiah is doing to keep students here once they’ve registered. So we want to use more of the budget for quality of life changes like I said earlier, microwaves on every single floor and more hot water in the buildings where people need hot water. What makes us different is we have actual concrete plans for what we want to see changed.
Q: How will you support students who feel targeted by their peers on campus for really any number of reasons
Samantha Neal: So I guess I’m going to tell a story and give an example of this. So obviously one of our stances is that we as a campaign support the LGBTQ campus community, and so on and so forth. And since taking that stance I have personally received a lot of harassment. Like people just walking up to me and saying some weird out-of-pocket things and while that has given me more drive to like stand up for people, it’s also helped me come to understand more like what LGBTQ people on campus go through every day. And so like this is an example of just how like one area in which I want to support people is by lifting them up, meeting them where they’re at, and actively advocating for them.
Pauline Deutcheu: I feel like Messiah already has a couple of support systems in place, the real problem is just getting that message out there so that students know like hey I just had this really weird experience happen to me, who do I go to with this? I think that’s why some students get stuck at and they don’t know who to go to and the problem sort of continues so really making it very clear like ok you can go to this person for this problem or that person for this problem or hey you don’t even know who to go to but at least you know you I can talk to Pauline and Mireliz and they’ll point me in the right direction. So just making sure that students are aware of the support systems that are already built-in and if there’s an issue where there’s not a support system built-in, then creating that for students.
Mireliz Bermudez: I think another part of that is also making sure that students recognize that every staff member on campus is first and foremost here to advocate for your needs. If we were not here, they would not be here in the first place. They’re here to meet what demands that you have and also emphasizing that Messiah does a great job of making sure that counseling is free, anybody can go to counseling or a person like Hannah McBride, her door is always open.
Judy Kyei-Poku: Similar to what Pauline said but just creating more support groups with different groups of people on campus I know I’ve been here for three years and it’s been a journey, I love Messiah, but it’s been a journey and I’ve been able to feel support by MCC I’ve been able to talk about my problems and vocalize the things that have been bothering me through MCC so just having groups with those familiar faces whether it be racially, ethnically, anything that you feel like you are being targeted on campus about whether it be your religion just having people who have been through those same circumstances and providing them with a safe space while all of you can vocalize your feelings and feel like someone is hearing you and someone is seeing you and someone can actually try to help and make a change to the way campus views you or whether it be, I know you guys hate this, but chapel, like having more informational chapels and just being able to like actually listen and get the different information about different people out to the crowd and just being more respectful.
Cody Ford: I think first and foremost acknowledging that I don’t identify the same as everyone else so making efforts to be able to know what issues we’re dealing with so that way I can be a support system either to come to directly or to direct them in the direction of either, like Mireliz said, going to Hannah McBride, connecting with the Engle Center, or connecting with one of our men of color kickback group or the women of color support group on campus, different things like that to plug our students in where they can best be supported.
Q: What is the mission of SGA?
Pauline Deutcheu: So I see SGA as the bridge between the student body and the administration. I think it’s really important that SGA is a student-led organization; it really is a chance for us as students to lead the charge in pushing Messiah to continuously improve itself year after year.
Mireliz Bermudez: I think I’ve said this before but college is about making the best version of yourself and so SGA is part of that advocacy for students to emphasize what part of themselves they want to better. And so us as the bridge are meant to be like the ear for the administration for the students so you talk to us so we can talk to them. There’s a sort of finesse to it. And so the message you want to get out to them we convert that to them so that the job can get done, so while you finish college you can be the best version of yourself.
Judy Kyei-Poku: I’m a social worker, I love community, so I’m going to go based on community. SGA stands for student government so essentially we are here for the students and we are here to listen to what you guys need and the change you want to see in this school. Once again we pay tuition, we go here, so if we’re paying all this money we should be able to feel like we have a voice in how the school is run or other different policies that make the school what it is.
Cody Ford: So aside from the support it provides to the individual students, like you can see the logo is right there on the QR code it’s the bridge but it’s also the individuals that make up that community. So coming alongside and being able to connect our students with the resources and individuals they need to be successful, to have their voices heard, to make the changes they want to see made, but also being able to form that community be it individually as students as a student body are coming alongside our clubs and organizations and really pushing them to be the best they can be to form their leaders to make lifelong changes to connect them to students across campus and to make meaningful impacts in lives of students. All you students sitting in here, sitting at the top of the union, all students watching this recording, SGA is here for you.
Samantha Neal: So like Pauline says SGA is there to be the connection, the bridge between the student body and the administration and I endorse that. I think it’s really cool this is an organization that we have and that we’re able to participate in as students. I think for me it also goes back to the leadership question early on in the program, like finding the balance between stepping up and being in charge and stepping down and being a servant so that’s what I have to say.
Mason Powers: Again I love the imagery of SGA being the bridge between the student body and the administration. But what we need to do is make sure everyone knows where that bridge is so they’re going to be able to cross it. Did anyone even really know that student senate meets in the Kim Phipps building? I always just assumed they met in the student government’s room. There needs to be a way so everyone is able to get their voice heard, and that’s the job of SGA is to hear everyone and SGA can’t hear everyone if not every voice is being heard.