The Richmond College Student Government Association had its annual presidential debate Monday night where candidates juniors Speaker Arju Patel and Senator Joseph Coyle discussed the purpose of their candidacy and their future goals for supporting the UR community.
Students from Richmond and Westhampton colleges attended the debate at the Current moderated by Seniors Sai Poluri, RCSGA’s vice president of administration, and current RCSGA President Anthony Lawrence.
“I’m here for all of you,” Patel said. “Regardless of what happens tomorrow, as long as we are working towards the issues discussed today, I hope we push each other to do better.”
Patel and Coyle initially shared their candidacies on their respective Instagram pages. Over the last week, they released campaign videos expressing their enthusiasm for the position and why they were running.
“I’m looking to revitalize the campus,” said Coyle at the debate. “We are finally moving out of the pandemic, and it’s time to bring back all the really fun events that we have missed out on these last two years due to COVID.”
Patel said he deeply cared about the UR community and hoped to unite its students, faculty and staff by building bridges, having difficult conversations and sharing responsibility.
“We can all then be authentic versions of ourselves, hold ourselves and others accountable, and make an impact on this campus,” he said.
Both candidates shared specific steps on how to solve the problems the UR community faces as a whole.
Patel expressed his vision for a college campus that worked to prevent sexual violence.
“We should increase staffing and have someone who can teach healthy masculinity,” he said. “I will work with student-led organizations to really push for this to be taught.”
Coyle said that one of his biggest goals was to lower student debt and income inequality on campus.
“Offer more online classes and more programs to streamline your time here,” he said. “Also, let’s lower the cost of housing and meal plans so that food insecurity is no longer an issue at higher education.”
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The majority of the debate consisted of the audience asking the candidates a variety of questions about topics including sustainability on campus, how to assist marginalized students, the renaming of the buildings and how to unite the campus.
“I find these questions are really constructive and inspiring,” said Coyle in his closing remarks. “I hope to take these issues forward and make changes.”
Although students from Westhampton College are not allowed to vote in the RCGSA elections, several students at the debate shared that this election would impact the entire student body.
“I cannot vote, but I really enjoyed this debate,” first-year student Jamilah Ganyuma said. “Both candidates had extremely thoughtful answers to concerns that affect all of us.”
Richmond College senior Pranay Bhootra said he had been really impressed by the conversations between the audience and the candidates.
“We covered many topics in a short amount of time,” he said. “Both the candidates and audience care deeply about what goes on here and I trust that the person I’ll vote for will implement the changes we are so urgently needing.”
In the closing statements, Lawrence encouraged the student body to hold both themselves and the future RCGSA president accountable for their actions.
“That’s how we create change and move mountains,” he said. “When we all collectively work together.”
Richmond College students can vote for their student body president on March 22 via email. The election results will be announced the following day.
Contact news writer Ananya Chetia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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