Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Student Government Executive Alliance candidates exchange platforms at debate

Roberto Ramirez
As the debating begins, student government canidates answer questions asked from the moderation team for the attending audience to hear at the 2024 Student Government Debate on Feb. 20.

The Nambala-Wilson, Barthel-McKiernan and Kelly-Grinnell Executive Alliance candidates convened Monday night in the William C. Powers, Jr. auditorium to debate topics ranging from food insecurity to diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

The Daily Texan Editor-in-Chief, Lucero Ponce, hosted and moderated the debate. The Daily Texan editorial board will release its Executive Alliance endorsement in print and online on Friday.

Presidential candidate Ramya Nambala and vice presidential candidate Jonathan Wilson’s platform is centered around pushing for diversity, equity and inclusion legislation in the wake of Senate Bill 17 and combating food insecurity.

As a member of the 117th SG Assembly, Wilson passed legislation in support of providing free and reduced meal plans to off-campus students with financial need, which he referenced during the debate. 

“No student should ever have to worry about whether they get food on the table,” Nambala said in her closing statement. “No student should ever have to worry about whether they’re included on campus.”

When asked about how his alliance will support student diversity while complying with SB 17, Wilson said their platform includes putting identity-based student organizations in contact with their alumni equivalents to help with funding.

One key aspect of presidential candidate Austin Barthel and vice presidential candidate Andrew McKiernan’s platform is creating a “task force” to help Muslim and Jewish students feel safer on campus as violence continues in Israel and Palestine. 

“We have many Jewish and Muslim friends and peers at this University who feel afraid to practice their religion in public,” McKiernan said. 

Their platform also includes putting a large portion of the SG budget towards a merit-based scholarship fund. McKiernan said SG could run on half its current budget, so a large section of the money should be “(put) back in the hands of students.”

McKiernan said SG is not the best place to pursue DEI initiatives because of the likely pushback from administrators trying to comply with SB 17. Barthel added that he visited the Gender and Sexuality Center before it was renamed to learn about its functions.

Presidential candidate Grace Kelly and vice presidential candidate Gabrielle “Elle” Grinnell’s platform focuses on improving campus mental health resources and fighting food insecurity.

Kelly said the recent suicides in the campus community encouraged her to run for SG president, where she could advocate for preventative mental health resources. 

“There’s really a lack of personalized support,” Kelly said. “Amidst financial (and) mental health crises, it is of the utmost necessity to have support through these processes.”

In regards to SB 17 compliance, Kelly said she and Grinnell have spoken with lawyers to ensure all their planned legislation involving student diversity abides by the new law. 

“We have a goal to foster inclusivity and equitable opportunities for everyone because doing so allows for diversity of thought,” Grinnell said. “Regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, we want everyone to feel like they have a seat at the table.”

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