By LINCOLN DAVIDSON
None of the three candidates for Davidson College’s 2013-14 Student Government Association (SGA) President won a majority in Monday’s voting, so the race now goes to a runoff election Wednesday.
Running for office are Chris Ragsdale ’14, Ryan Malden ’14, and Pearce Lockwood ’14. Mr. Malden, who received the least votes Monday, was eliminated, while the other two candidates will square off in Wednesday’s run-off.
Monday’s vote followed a debate Sunday night between the three candidates for SGA president at the 900 Room of Alvarez Union. More than 100 students gathered to hear the candidates answer questions about topics including social culture, diversity, the college’s Presbyterian heritage, and the role of the SGA.
The Davidsonian student newspaper, which hosted the event in conjunction with the SGA Elections Committee, started off by asking the candidates a series of questions selected by the newspaper’s editorial board. After 40 minutes, the floor was opened for other students’ questions.
DRINKING CULTURE LEADS THE ISSUES
The college’s ongoing debate about social and drinking culture became the central issue of the evening. All three candidates identified social culture as the most important campus issue they would have to deal with as SGA President, but offered differing opinions as to how the issue should be addressed.
Mr. Ragsdale argued that “a conversation needs to be opened up [about these issues].”
Mr. Lockwood agreed, but said that the focus of discussions about alcohol consumption should be different than his opponents suggested. “We can start by addressing it through talking, but more importantly, we should be looking at safety of students,” he said.
Opinions also differed about the degree of diversity and self-segregation on campus and what should be done to address the issue. Mr. Lockwood said that there is a lack of diversity on campus and that the best way to address it is through “facilitating conversations.”
Mr. Ragsdale dissented, arguing that “we have a diversity problem, but I’m not sure how deep it is.” Minority students make up a smaller percentage of Davidson College’s student body than they do at the college’s peer institutions.
DAVIDSON’S PRESBYTERIAN HERITAGE
The candidates, neither of whom are Presbyterian, also split on how the college should address its Presbyterian heritage. Mr. Ragsdale said he thinks the college should repeal the bylaw requiring the college’s president be a member of the Presbyterian Church. Davidson College’s Board of Trustees is in the middle of a year-long examination of this rule.
“We need to maintain a balance,” Mr. Ragsdale said. “Davidson College Presbyterian Church will always be part of our campus and who we are, but the bylaw doesn’t fit in with our community standards any more. I agree with how the trustees are handling it, and trust they’ll make the right decision.”
On the other side of the issue, Mr. Lockwood said he “can see both sides of the argument,” but at the same time, believes “it’s important to honor tradition and important that the president has a Christian background.”
“I’m not Presbyterian, but I’m part of Davidson for life. Among the alumni there are a lot of people who are Davidson for life for whom the college’s Presbyterian identity is really important, and we need to respect their opinions,” he said.
Mr. Lockwood also stood apart from his opponent in his stance on SGA reform. “We need more transparency. People need to feel comfortable coming to SGA meetings … if that means we need to incentivize them with food, then so be it,” he said.
Elaborating in an email to DavidsonNews.net, Mr. Lockwood wrote, “I envision a very different type of student government, one foremost that has no EGO … it is incumbent upon the SGA to actually let the campus know what we have done and what we are trying to do.”
At the debate, Mr. Ragsdale said that SGA is “pretty well functioning,” but that as president he would work on “developing the leadership skills of each Senator,” who represent the interests of each year and certain other groups on campus, such as Patterson Court organizations.
OTHER RACES ALSO NEED RUNOFFS
Elections for Honor Council Defense Advisers and Union Board Vice President also resulted in a draw. Polls for the run-off election will be open to Davidson College students from 10am to 10pm Wednesday.
MEET THE SGA CANDIDATES
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Year: Class of 2014
Major: Environmental Studies
Previous SGA experience: Sophomore class senator, Junior class president
Reason for running: “My extensive experience with [the SGA] gives me an opportunity to better understand its complex inter-workings and dynamics”
Focus issues: Social culture, drinking culture, student stress
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Year: Class of 2014
Previous SGA experience: Involved in SGA committees since Freshman year
Reason for running: “I think the Davidson SGA has not provided adequate leadership on so many core issues that are essential to student life … I will do whatever it takes to put new and more logical solutions on the table.”
Focus issues: Social culture, drinking culture, SGA reform
Candidates running in Wednesday’s run-off election:
- SGA President: Chris Ragsdale, Pearce Lockwood
- Defense Advisors: Gabriel Perlow & Sam Castle, Anna Ike & Alina Gomez
- Union Board Vice-President: Catherine Doyle, Megan Bannon
SGA officials elected in Monday’s election:
- SGA Vice-President: Nick McGuire
- Union Board President: Cam Joe
- Civic Engagement Council Chair: Julia Ellis
- Student Solicitors: Robin Malloch & Noah Bricker
- Activities Tax Council Vice-Chair: Lionel Adabayeri
- Council on Campus and Religious Life: Dheuris Rodriguez, Fred Irving, Mary Dombrowski, Sawyer Hicks
- Student Conduct Council: Meira McFarquhar, Gabrielle Garrard