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What you missed from the Student Government presidential debate

With a slew of passionate candidates, the student government election on Nov. 6 and 7 will be momentous.
Pictured+%28left+to+right%29+are+Gia+Hamed+%E2%80%9825%2C+Alex+Petrak+26%2C+Michael+White+25%2C+Lauren+Hoffman+25%2C+Ryan+Moore+26%2C+Sahana+Abbennagari+%E2%80%9826+and+Morgan+Anderson+25.
Samuel Herr
Pictured (left to right) are Gia Hamed ‘25, Alex Petrak ’26, Michael White ’25, Lauren Hoffman ’25, Ryan Moore ’26, Sahana Abbennagari ‘26 and Morgan Anderson ’25.

On Oct. 30, John Carroll University’s Student Government hosted its first Presidential Debate since pre-COVID.

Students sat huddled in front of The Cubby in the student center to hear the three presidential candidates – Morgan Anderson ‘25, Lauren Hoffman ‘25 and Ryan Moore ‘26 – make their cases. As the voice of current President Jacob Kozlowski ‘24 echoed throughout the room, spectators slowly quieted themselves to hear his opening statements.

The event started with an introduction by President Jacob Kozlowski ‘24 who thanked the Senate members, the candidates and all those involved for making the debate possible. The microphone was then passed to the Chair of the Elections Committee, Lily Free ‘24, who introduced the candidates for each position.

All those running for executive positions in the Senate were given one minute to give a speech, listing their involvement on campus and pitching their agendas. Tyler Capron ‘25 and Michael White ‘25, the two candidates for vice president, explained their qualifications and vision for Student Government under their leadership.

The candidate for Director of Business Affairs, Michael Noonan ‘26, gave his speech in an unconventional way: over the phone. A recorded audio was played by Free since Noonan is spending the semester abroad in Rome. Directly following, the candidate for Director of Student Organizations, Alex Petrak ‘26, gave his speech including a quick shout-out to current Director Sara Sfeir ‘24.

Lastly, the candidates for the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion position gave their speeches detailing how they planned to make – or continue to make – John Carroll’s campus a more inclusive place. Surprisingly, the speeches only featured two of the three original candidates – Sahana Abbennagari ‘26 and incumbent Director Gia Hamed ‘25.

Finally, the moment that everyone had been waiting for arrived. Free introduced Professor Sara Schiavoni from the political science department as the official moderator for the debate. She gave a short introduction in which she noted the importance of upholding democracy and encouraged students to vote in this year’s election. Promptly after, she called the candidates to center stage.

The presidential candidates were introduced and settled into the hot seats. The questions covered a wide range of topics, from student involvement to campus safety to actions the candidates would take if elected president.

Morgan Anderson ‘25 focused her campaign on issues pertaining to belonging, community and personhood. “I think the most important issue facing the students at John Carroll today has a lot to do with diversity, equity and inclusion and a sense of belonging and becoming,” replied Anderson when asked about the most important issue affecting students’ experiences here at John Carroll. “John Carroll has a mission of belonging and becoming…engaging students, making a diverse culture on campus and making students feel involved and have a purpose at John Carroll, that is what will ultimately help students belong and become.”

Lauren Hoffman ‘25 shared her experiences managing the student body’s health and safety, a huge component of her campaign. “I personally am very passionate about health and safety on campus,” commented Hoffman. “In the past I have helped with CPR certifications for RAs and recreation staff and, as I continue forward, I want to help with the JCUPD dispatch system.”

Ryan Moore ‘26 had a strong recurring theme: the reputation of student government. “I believe that every person in student government has the ability to try to be a leader, but I do not think that everyone is a leader in Student Government,” stated Moore. “The organization has issues. It does.” Throughout the debate, he touched upon his issues with leadership in Student Government and how he, as a leader, would fix these issues.

Candidates answered each question, creating their own vision for what the Student Government under their leadership would look like. There was noticeable tension that surfaced as the senators offered rebuttals in response to their fellow candidates’ answers.

Toward the end of the event, the conversation took a sharp turn. The candidates each gave a closing statement which gave a summary of their agendas and hopes for Student Government. Moore, however, made a shocking declaration.

“I will more likely than not be resigning as a senator tonight,” announced Moore. “I will continue to run for president, but I do not think that me going to senate meetings right now is benefiting a single student.”

That night, Moore resigned from his position in the Senate.

When asked about the reaction to this news, President Kozlowski commented: “It’s unfortunate…we don’t like to have anyone resign at any point. It makes the work we do harder if there’s an empty chair in the Senate. I wish him the best in all that he does.”

However, the loss of a member has not stopped the Student Government from continuing its work. “The work of Student Government advocating for students goes on,” said Kozlowski. “We are who we are, and we are effective because of everybody as a collective. Any one of us could step out of the room and our work continues.”

As the dates of the election near, students are encouraged to vote and make their voice count. Voting will take place Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 in-person and online. For voting information, send an email to [email protected] and make sure to check your email for updates in the coming weeks.

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About the Contributor
Vic Jackson
Vic Jackson, Student Government Beat Reporter
Vic Jackson is the Student Government Beat Reporter for The Carroll News from Akron, Ohio. He is a sophomore at John Carroll University double majoring in Communications (Digital Media) and English (Creative Writing) and minoring in Peace, Justice & Human Rights (PJHR). Aside from The Carroll News, Vic is a DJ for The Heights, a student researcher for the Tim Russert Department of Communications, part of Black Students in Action (BSA) and the East Asian Student Association (EASA), a member of JCU's acapella group Sweet Carrollines and a barista at Saxby's, among other things. In their free time, they enjoy listening to R&B and jazz, writing poetry, admiring art and fashion, spending time outdoors and hanging out with friends. After graduation, Vic hopes to work at a major broadcasting station or be a world news journalist for a national news organization. To contact Vic, email him at [email protected].

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