Nina Kudlak, a third-year studying political science, and Will Vuncannon, a third-year studying political science listen to a question during the debate held by Technician and Nubian Message in Talley Student Union on Friday, March 3, 2023.

Candidates for student body president and vice president answered questions about inclusivity, mental health initiatives and bridging gaps between students and Student Government at the annual debate hosted by Technician and Nubian Message

The debate is meant to give candidates the opportunity to promote and explain their platforms to the student body. This year’s debate included four president and vice president candidate pairs:

  • Nina Kudlak, a third-year studying political science, and Will Vuncannon, a third-year studying political science and religious studies 

  • Timothy Reid, a third-year studying political science and business administration, and Allison Markert, a second-year studying natural resources

  • Kayla Grogan, a second-year studying political science and criminology, and Katie Phillips, a third-year studying political science and science, technology and society.

  • Hilton Stallworth, a third-year studying mechanical engineering, and Chima Nwosu, a third-year studying computer engineering.

The debate was organized into two rounds; in the first round, each candidate pair responded to three questions, and in the second round, each candidate pair was asked two questions specific to their platform. Candidates could only debate each other in the second round. 

Round 1

All - According to the Student Government mission statement, SG “encourages students to express their concerns and ideas.” How do you plan to ensure Student Government operates as a safe space for students’ voices?

Kudlak said she wants to create an online feedback form where students can share their concerns about campus-wide issues. Vuncannon said his and Kudlak’s platform emphasizes listening to students that may be overlooked, including international students.

Grogan said she wants to facilitate conversations between students and administrators to ensure students feel their voices are heard. 

Reid said a fundamental aspect of his and Markert’s platform is strengthening ties between Student Government and minority communities on campus. He said he will focus on intentional outreach to these communities.

Stallworth said the central focus of his and Nwosu’s campaign is making sure NC State feels like a comfortable place for students. He said he wants to be approachable to all students and work with community centers on campus to understand problems they face.

All - NC State is a predominately white institution, making it crucial for the University and Student Government to foster diversity and inclusion. How will you encourage an inclusive environment, and how will you emphasize diversity within your cabinet?

Phillips said she and Grogan are determined to listen to students and amplify their voices.

Markert said she wants to dismantle the barriers that prevent students from accessing members of Student Government. Reid said he wants to be specific and intentional about outreach to communities that have been historically underrepresented in Student Government.

Nwosu said he and Stallworth want to engage in outreach initiatives with the community to educate students on what the role of Student Government is and how to get involved.

Vuncannon said he believes it is wrong to make assumptions about what is best for historically underrepresented groups, which is why he and Kudlak have prioritized outreach to understand what students want.

All - Simply put, what sets your campaign apart from the other three tickets?

Reid said the experiences and connections he and Markert have allows them to address a wider array of students' concerns. Markert said their experience with administration and knowledge about who to talk to about specific issues sets them apart. 

Stallworth said his focus on his mission to cultivate a sense of community sets him apart. 

Kudlak said her campaign is set apart from the others because of her passion for empowering and connecting with students and her plan to do so in a way Student Government has never done before. 

Grogan said her focus on social sustainability and plan to build community applicable to student interests differs her campaign from the others. 

Round 2

Grogan and Phillips: 

Grogan - According to your website, your platform does not mention a section for diversity, inclusion or equity for underrepresented students/BIPOC students. What are your plans for representing NC State’s entire student body fairly and accurately? Why wasn’t this included within your platform?

Grogan said diversity was not mentioned in her platform because they plan to integrate it into each individual aspect of their entire platform. 

Markert asked if Grogan’s platform specifically addressed minority students at all.

Grogan said diversity and inclusion is not explicitly outlined because it is a value instilled throughout her and Phillips’ platform. 

Phillips - Several components of your platform prioritize issues you have specific experience with — community in athletics, men’s basketball games and arts inclusion, to name a few. Some would argue your platform lacks focus on STEM endeavors, research, etc. There are some issues you’ll have to address that you won’t have specific experience with — how do you plan to do so?

Phillips said bringing other people on their team will address the areas they don’t have experience in. She said she and Grogan do not assume anyone’s position or speak in their place, so if there is an experience they are lacking, they will reach out to others with that experience. 

Kudlak and Vuncannon:

Kudlak - One of your top priorities is the “First-Year Experience Initiative,” a sweeping plan that reaches into 2025. If you only have one year to make a difference at NC State on the governmental level as SBP/SBVP, why is this initiative at the top of your list? How will it be feasible, considering the report will (supposedly) come out in March 2024?

Kudlak said as freshman classes grow, it places a strain on housing and makes it more difficult to find resources, such as counseling. She wants to address the first-year experience because she believes it is an important issue. 

Grogan said she thinks the first-year live-on requirement helps first-years find housing, but upperclassmen struggle to find housing because they are not guaranteed on-campus housing. Grogan asked Kudlak how she plans to address housing for upperclassmen.

Kudlak said the issue is very difficult to address, which is why she would work with administrators to find solutions.

Vuncannon - Another top priority of yours is student safety, which is inherently tied to working with University Police. Beyond your plans for a “Department on Student Safety,” how will you address the socio-historical implications of policing in the United States? In this regard, what are your plans to make all students feel safe and protected on campus?

Vuncannon said he wants to continue the work of the Select Student Body Department on University Police Relations and Student Input to ensure student voices are heard by NC State police. He said he wants to work with the Raleigh Police Department to facilitate conversations with students regarding off-campus policing. 

Reid and Markert: 

Reid- In your platform, you discuss relaxing the first-year on-campus living requirement. This could potentially have a negative impact on students who are struggling with the transition to college, since they won’t have the communal living experience. How do you plan to balance the costs and benefits of removing the requirement? Specifically, what are the benefits you’re targeting? 

Reid said they are trying to tackle housing insecurity and create more space on campus for groups who aren’t able to attain affordable housing by reevaluating the first-year on-campus housing requirement.

Phillips said as an out-of-state student, she found the live on requirement helpful and believes first-year students and their experience should be prioritized. 

Markert - It’s no question that there is a lack of coverage when it comes to Wolfline routes. However, even though the reality is simple — more buses, more bus routes — the University has constantly struggled to find workers to meet the needs of student transportation, especially for the Wolfline. How do you plan to overcome these obstacles? 

Markert said the Wolfline system is currently run by a third party and that contract has not been renegotiated since the pandemic. She said they want to revamp the system as a whole, the most important parts being renegotiation of the contract and inclusion of workers’ rights. 

Grogan asked what their plan is if they are met with a hard no from the University. Markert said being met with a hard no would bring a hard bargain and their strong voices will bring change to the system to support students. 

Stallworth and Nwosu:

Stallworth - You mention wanting to increase stipends for graduate students — as does every other ticket — while expanding their insurance packages. This has been a decades-long issue for the University, so what’s different about your campaign? How will your platform enact positive, permanent change when it comes to graduate students’ stipends, and what are your plans?

Stallworth said he plans to research how much other graduate students at peer universities make and bring the same amount to NC State in a transparent plan, along with increasing stipends and staggering tuition and fees.

Nwosu - Wellness Days, although a heavily contested method for students to practice mental health, look like they’re here to stay. Should you work with the University to implement additional wellness days, how will you “create explicit protections” when it comes to in-class work? What if a professor — or several professors — doesn’t agree, and continues to assign work or record virtual lectures for students to complete?

Nwosu said he wants to talk to professors and find a compromise to ensure students’ wellness needs are met while avoiding disruption to the class. Stallworth said he wants to make sure wellness days are well-established so professors can plan around those days ahead of time.

Check out Technician’s profiles about Reid and Markert, Kudlak and Vuncannon, Stallworth and Nwosu, and Grogan and Phillips to learn more.

Assistant News Editor

I am a second-year studying English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Professional Writing. I joined Technician as a correspondent in October 2021, and I am currently an Assistant News Editor.

Assistant News Editor

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