SGA Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates Debate Student Engagement


Photo by Matthew Goldsmith

UCM SGA presidential candidates Cade Tremain (left) and Colby Crowder (right) debate at the Elliott Student Union auditorium on April 7. The topic ranged from student engagement to race relations on campus.

Written by Matthew Goldsmith, News Editor

  The Student Government Association at the University of Central Missouri held its presidential and vice presidential debates on April 7 in the Elliott Student Union auditorium. 

  The presidential debate featured SGA Secretary Cade Tremain and Treasurer Colby Crowder. 

  During the debate, Crowder described his three-part platform of increasing student engagement, advocating for under-represented groups on campus and supporting student media.

  Tremain, on the other hand, spoke about his desire to bridge the gap between campus organizations and SGA, bring more inclusivity to UCM, enhance SGA’s reputation and focus on accountability.

  Crowder, who self-identifies as a Black man, spoke about his dissatisfaction with the current state of race relations on campus. 

  “They are horrid,” Crowder said. “We need to do a tremendous amount of work. There is very little integration.” 

  Along with race relations, the ongoing retrenchment process at UCM was discussed. Tremain said UCM should focus on its higher performing programs.

  “I think that we should definitely enhance what is going to be our soon-to-be possible future, particularly because there’s no reason to just have a million watered-down programs when you can have some really, really strong programs,” Tremain said.

  The presidential debate was contentious at times. Tremain disagreed with the way Crowder reacted to the fall 2019 closure of the UCM Fraternity Complex and the transition to alternative housing, in which Crowder talked to WDAF-TV in Kansas City about his displeasure with the situation.

  Crowder defended his actions, saying that the residing fraternities’ initial efforts were rejected by University Housing, and he helped bring positive change to living conditions for fraternity members.

The SGA vice presidential debate featured four candidates in (left to right) Lindsey Burns, Makaila Mills, Paige VanBlarcum and Lillian Rhodes. (Photo by Matthew Goldsmith)

  The vice presidential debate was made up of four candidates, three of whom are first year students. The candidates were freshman Representative Lindsey Burns and sophomore senator Paige VanBlarcum and freshmen senators Lillian Rhodes and Makaila Mills.

  Mills, along with the other candidates, spoke about increasing student engagement at UCM. She said students and faculty can each play a role in increasing student engagement.

  “I believe that if we enhance communication between students and faculty, that there will be a better turnout at events,” Mills said.

  Burns spoke about her desire to be more receptive to change and her ideas about how to get registered student organizations more involved with SGA.

  “I think just the best way to approach them and to increase engagement is to let them know of their role and their importance in our community and our votes as a whole,” Burns said. 

  VanBlarcum placed emphasis on student media engagement during the debate and used her closing statement to talk about what she hoped to bring to UCM as vice president.

  “Bearing in mind what this campus has been through and everything students have endured this past year, I plan to bring about a new era on campus that is inclusive, full of engaged students and, most importantly, safe,” VanBlarcum said.

  Rhodes noted that her campus outreach is what set her apart from other candidates.

  “I’m going to make sure that I’m not just engaged with other SGA members, but rather engaged with the entire campus, with all organizations, no matter how small, little or unimportant that students deem them to be,” Rhodes said.

  Sophomore criminal justice major Ryan Lett thought some of the dialogue between presidential candidates was unprofessional, but thinks both candidates would do a good job as president. Lett said he was impressed by all four vice presidential candidates and that the debate impacted his voting decision.

  “This really changed my perspective and probably changed my vote,” Lett said.

  SGA elections will take place on April 13 from 8:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. A university-wide email will be sent including a link to vote.