The Student Government Association (SGA) is now preparing for its officer rotation as UTSA moves into the final months of the spring semester; at the forefront of this election cycle is the race for SGA president and vice president.

Last week, the SGA held its annual presidential and vice-presidential debate to give students the opportunity to hear the platforms and ask questions of the candidates. The presidential candidates for this election are Rafae Ahmed, Michael Barbosa and Brittany Garcia and the vice presidential candidates are Mariah Crippen, Loy Fong and Arianna Pulido. Neither Ahmed nor Fong participated in the debate, but they will still be listed on the ballot.

The debate asked questions about what each candidate intended to do, where SGA sits in the administration’s plan and how to make their efforts better known to the students they served. After the moderators asked their questions, they allowed students to question the candidates.

Of the six possible candidates, four attended the debate: vice presidential candidates Crippen and Pulido and presidential candidates Barbosa and Garcia.

Barbosa is a sophomore cybersecurity major and army veteran who specialized as a human intelligence collector. Barbosa believes his time in the military has prepared him to take on this leadership role because of his ability to train and create leaders.

Barbosa wants to focus on the costs students incur, mentioning a transition to open-source textbooks, and he wants to create better transparency between the administration and the student body.

“What we really want to do is open up what it really is the student government is doing for the student body and how the student government relationship affects the student body as well,” Barbosa said.

“We want students to know what decisions are being made on your behalf and how it affects you, so you can proceed well informed.”

Crippen is a sophomore interdisciplinary studies major who currently serves as the SGA treasurer. She listed two objectives she wants to focus on: collaboration between the various student organizations on campus and improving transparency between administration and the student body.

“With over 360 organizations on campus, I feel like we don’t see a lot of collaborative events,” Crippen said. “I want to create conferences where organizations can learn leadership and management skills as well as develop their ability to collaborate with each other.”

Garcia is a junior public health major who has served in the SGA for three years. She believes her previous experience as SGA vice president can contribute to her term as SGA president.

Garcia wants to focus her efforts on the diversity of UTSA and inclusion on campus. She noted the importance of representing a truly diverse university if UTSA is going to promote itself as a diverse university.

“Our university likes to take pride in saying ‘we are diverse’ when we go reach out to other schools,” Garcia said. “But what does our degree show from it, and what does our curriculum show for that.”

Pulido is a freshman politics and law and economics major who is serving as the freshman senator. She wants to focus on making the university a “home away from home” for UTSA’s students. During the debate, she acknowledged the subprime graduation and retention rates but believes the solution to the issue relies on making the university home to its students.

“I feel making roadrunners feel at home, by making organizations to suit their interest or in general by helping them with their classes, will definitely be an objective I focus on as vice president,” Pullido said. “We really need to foster excellence with our students here at UTSA.”

Primary elections will be held through RowdyLink on Tuesday, March 6 and Wednesday, March 7. UTSA students are asked to participate by choosing the candidate they feel will best serve them in the upcoming school year.

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