SGA debate sheds light on executive board candidates

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While the results from Gannon University’s Student Government Association (SGA) executive board election won’t be available until after the elections, the candidates participated in a debate that was held Thursday.
This year, two tickets are running for executive positions.
On the first ticket, Amanda Granata is running for president and Caitlin Klein is running for chief of staff. On the second ticket, James Gruss is running for president and Michael Haas is running for chief of staff.
The debate began with around 8-10 questions directed at the two presidential candidates. Then, the questions moved on to the chiefs of staff and finally, the floor was opened up to audience members’ questions.
The first question addressed why each presidential candidate wanted to run for the position. Both candidates said that they were passionate about the position that they’re running for and helping the community.
“This year I have just found myself coming back to SGA, doing more for the committees I’m involved in and really focusing on what more I can do for the students and my committee,” Granata said. “I love being a chair on the committee and helping the students.
“Everything I’ve done and accomplished so far, I’d just like to bring it to a larger scale and accomplish that through the whole campus.”
Gruss agreed with Granata and said that he also wants to serve the Gannon community.
“The main thing that exits me about this position is the opportunity that I would have to really set the vision and facilitate the SGA to serve the students,” Gruss said. “I love challenging myself and I love putting my efforts toward building other people up and making them feel the same type of passion I feel.
“I’m passionate about SGA, I’m passionate about Gannon, I’m passionate about the students and I want to infect everyone else with that.”
Another question that was asked of the presidential candidates was what they thought the new strategic plan for 2017-2021 should include.
The university is currently in the middle of a strategic plan. The current plan, which ends in 2017, focuses on prospering innovation, aiding the community and developing a worldview while at Gannon.
Gruss, who is on the strategic plan committee, said that for his campaign, community is a big thing.
“We live in the Erie community, we are the Gannon community, we need to be prospering that community and that’s a large part of what SGA is doing,” he said.
Gruss also said that he would like to focus on the student experience at Gannon as a learning tool.
“Many of the skills that they are going to be using in the workforce are actually the skills that they’re learning in clubs and organizations,” Gruss said. “If Gannon could find some way to further that learning experience, we would find that there’s a lot of value in it for our graduates.
“I think Gannon’s already doing that, but it’s a mission that we need to continue and I think it’s a mission that SGA can help with.”
Granata said she agreed with Gruss, but said she would like to focus on student unification.
“I think by helping the student experience, it starts with unifying the students on campus and really focusing on what their role is in the Gannon community, what they have to bring to the table and what they would like to see happen on campus,” Granata said.
“Everything constantly continues to change, so innovation is a key role in the unity on campus and finding your own student experience.”
The candidates gave their closing statements and then the attention was directed toward Haas and Klein, the candidates for chief of staff.
One of the questions that they were asked was what they thought made their partner a good fit to run together.
Haas answered first and said that he thinks that the dichotomy between him and Gruss makes for an interesting pair.
“We’re very different but that gives us a unique insight into how students look at SGA and what their needs are,” Haas said. “I’m definitely more creative. I like thinking outside of the box and Jimmy likes taking notes and making a strategy.
“Both of those things are incredibly important and without a balanced team like that, you’re not going to get the same amount of results. Because of that balance, we’ve got the perfect fit.”
Klein said that she thinks that she and Granata make a good team as well.
“When I was in high school, I was a theater kid, a band kid – I loved the arts,” Klein said. “Amanda comes from the sciences. She’s a cheerleader and she’s really into the athletics and I feel like that helps us hit a lot of the students, being able to talk to them.
“I feel like we’ve gotten a lot accomplished so far this year and I feel like we have a lot of common goals. When we were sitting down talking about [them] she would say something and I would be thinking of it also, so I just feel like we’re very tight with the way we think.”
Voting began on Monday and will continue through Wednesday. To vote, log into engageu.gannon.edu and look for the blue voting banner located on the main page.

SAMANTHA GRISWOLD
[email protected]