Students Split Ticket to Elect Sklar and Martinez

Jonathan Lee ‘20

Staff Writer

Emmitt Sklar is the first sophomore to be elected SGA President since 2016. Photos by Olivia Forrester ‘22

On Sunday night, just before the beginning of the SGA debate, a long line of students snaked around the Café level of Union. Students were enticed not only by Chipotle, but also the chance to listen and participate in order to cast informed votes for SGA President and Vice President. Over 200 students, many of whom sat on the floor or stood in the back, crammed the 900 Room.

The debate stressed the growing collective desire for changes on campus, a sentiment provoked by many things, but most notably the exposed alleged Nazi presence and drugging incidents of last semester. 

Outside of SGA, there have been many efforts to enact change, including the Jewish Studies Program petition and working group, the petition for m just admissions policies, pressure to reform sexual assault response, and the Common Ground initiative. The increased interest in the SGA elections, however,  indicates that students see the SGA as a way to help enact change and have a say in the school’s direction.

The 2019 debate featured Caroline Roddey ’20 for President and her running mate Gina Martinez ‘20, who faced off against Emmitt Sklar ’21, who ran with Emma Lynn ‘21 for Vice President. In the debate, almost all questions were directed at the two presidential candidates.

Amidst discussions about Davidson’s racial history, legacy blind admissions, and the Common Ground Initiative, the candidate’s identities were highlighted. They are diverse in gender, but, as one audience member pointed out, “the two presidential candidates are white.” The student then asked, “How will you effectively address the needs of students of color… and do you feel qualified to do so?”

Roddey responded, “I don’t want to pretend I represent students of color and that I understand what that experience is like at Davidson; my role as SGA president would be to show up and to listen.” She added, “Gina is able to bring this experience… of leading on campus as a student of color, as a student from a low-income background.”

In an interview with The Davidsonian, Martinez ’20 remarked that “seeing how else I could develop my voice and speak for other people that don’t really get a chance to speak… piqued my interest in SGA.”

 Sklar emphasized that “it’s critical to acknowledge the identities we don’t have and to work to make SGA, and Davidson as a whole, inclusive, and to identify problems that deal with specific aspects of the Davidson experience that we might not also deal with ourselves.”

The candidates spoke to a variety of issues. Sklar and Lynn had thirty-twoß platform points to be exact. For Sklar and Lynn, the three most important goals included “making sure students have affordable transportation to and from the airport for breaks and holidays… making textbooks more affordable… and reevaluating write up policy,” said Lynn. 

Roddey and Martinez focused on different problems. One important issue for them, said Roddey, was “making mental health provision accessible to all students… and making them sufficient to address students’ needs.” For example, “counselors should be trained to work with sexual assault survivors on campus.” Two other issues were “developing a crisis response framework” and “expanding food options,” especially late-night options.  

The doxing of alleged Neo-Nazis on campus during the fall  informed both the questions and the candidates’ platforms. Sklar explained that he was affected by it: “I know how it feels when there are a group of people in your community who wish you harm because of your identity.” As a solution to future threats he proposed “a clause to the student handbook dealing with hate speech in order to tell people that there is no excuse and you will not be tolerated… if you engage in that kind of speech.”

Roddey supported a “a crisis response framework… that will bridge that gap between the students and the administration… and [find] a more transparent way to keep students in the know… so that way students won’t have as many rumors”

 Partly in response to the legacy blind admissions petition which has gained  traction in recent days, the candidates offered their thoughts on the flaws in the admissions process.

Though Sklar didn’t comment on the petition, he remarked: “We want to make sure that it’s a priority when it comes to admissions that we’re introducing people into this community that share the values that we know are important…Emma and I have been working on a new admissions question that deals with inclusivity.”

In response to the admissions petition question, Roddey commented: “As a legacy student and an early decision student myself, I acknowledge that I’ve benefited from both of those things, however I don’t believe that we should end either, but I do believe that we should work to reform both.” 

Per an announcement Monday night following the close of voting, Emmitt Sklar ‘21 and Gina Martinez ‘20 will be the next SGA President and Vice President, respectively. Split tickets are permitted as students vote separately on the SGA President and Vice President positions on the ballot. Sklar is set to serve as the first sophomore president since Zi Yang ‘16. 1157 votes total were cast in the election. The inauguration will take place on February 20th at 5:00 pm in the Union 900 room. 

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