SGA presidential debate: Kendra Walker and Mackenzie Wenrick compete for SGA president

SGA presidential debate: Kendra Walker and Mackenzie Wenrick compete for SGA president

By SAMANTHA GRISWOLD
managing editor, news

The spring semester brings many events to Gannon University, one of them being the presidential elections for the Student Government Association (SGA).
The SGA held its traditional debate with the candidates for president and chief of staff Thursday in Room 101 of the Zurn Science Center.
Zubda Khokar, a senior biology major and vice president for academic affairs for the SGA, moderated the event.
On the first ticket, Kendra Walker, a sophomore accounting and finance major and current vice president for finance for SGA, is running for president and Grant Kruszewski, a junior finance major, is running as her chief of staff. On the second ticket, Mackenzie Wenrick, a sophomore public health major, is running for president and Kishan Patel, a freshman pre-dentistry major, is running as her chief of staff.
The first question asked why the candidates were excited to run for president. Walker answered first and said that she is most excited about the people aspect of it.
“I didn’t realize the passion I had for people and empowering students,” she said.
Walker also said she wants to reach out and unify campus through student mentoring programs and club and organization empowerment.
Wenrick said that she is also excited to work with people.
“Without you, my job wouldn’t be possible,” she said. “[Kishan and I] recognize that Gannon’s campus is like a family and we need to look out for each other.”
The candidates were then asked how they plan to make the 2017-2018 SGA term their own.
Wenrick said that she wants to incorporate smaller groups to create a campus-wide community in three ways: by making sure groups know what resources are available to them and how to utilize them, by encouraging collaboration between clubs and organizations to become more successful and to focus on communication on campus.
Walker said she will make the presidency her own by giving back to the students, sponsoring more student initiatives and reaching into the community.
The next question asked what improvements can be made to the SGA.
Walker said that she would like to do more delegation when it comes to work on the SGA so that it can be more efficient. She also said that she would like to talk with the members of the General Assembly (GA) to determine areas that they believe need to be improved.
Wenrick said that she would like to focus on the GA as a whole and agreed that delegation is a big concern. She also said that she would like to give SGA representatives a chance to hold leadership positions.
Next, candidates were asked how they plan to motivate members of the SGA. Wenrick said that there are two ways she would like to encourage members: by serving as a role model and by being a motivator to them.
“If people see the work that you’re doing, it makes them want to do more,” she said.
The candidates were then asked what they thought were three things that students would like to change on campus.
Walker said that she feels like students don’t have the tools they need to succeed.
“We have a unique opportunity in organizations,” she said. “We can empower them to bring the needs of students forward.”
Wenrick said that as a current resident adviser (RA), her residents come to her frequently with complaints.
“The top complaints that I hear are that the food isn’t great and there’s nothing to do on campus,” she said.
She also said that she thinks that people are uninformed about events on campus because of the lack of effective communication, which she wants to change.
The last question directed toward the presidential candidates asked what three things they would like to focus on that align with Gannon’s new 2017-2021 strategic plan.
Wenrick said that she would like to make a community of inclusiveness on campus.
“Twenty percent of our students are international students and fostering a global community is one of the strategic goals, but are we really reaching out to global students?” she asked.
She also said that she would like to create a “beehive atmosphere” on campus that encourages communication and collaboration between everybody and increase student success after graduation by providing opportunities to prepare while you’re still in school.
Walker said that she would like to align the SGA with the university initiatives and create a global community by equipping people with the tools they need to succeed and empowering workers with real-life skills.
Then the debate turned to the candidates for chief of staff, the position that manages and oversees the SGA executive board.
The first question asked what experiences the candidates had managing a dynamic group of people and how their experiences will help them in their role.
Kruszewski said that he knows what it means to be both in a group and as a part of a team because of his membership in his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi, and he knows how to lead because he runs his own company.
“I understand what it’s like to be working on a project – not overseeing it, but working on it,” he said. “I feel like I really understand both ends of creating it and overseeing it.”
Patel said that he has leadership experience from his role in his temple community, which is an international organization, because he is currently on the national board and has many responsibilities, including communicating and collaborating with people from across the world.
He said that what he does in the organization is essentially the same thing they would like to do in the SGA – align resources with what the SGA provides students to maximize potential.
The next question asked the candidates to describe how the pair balances each other out and how their team dynamic will benefit the SGA.
Patel said that his relationship with Wenrick is unique in the way they want to get things done.
“She’s definitely the activator and I’m the executor,” he said. “I feel like that’s a perfect relationship.”
Patel also said that he and Wenrick get along really well because it’s not just about work, it’s about having fun and enjoying what you’re doing.
“If we don’t enjoy what we’re doing as a team, then no one else in the GA is going to enjoy what they’re doing,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this relationship – we know how to have fun and we know how to get work done and that’s what the students need.”
Kruszewski said that he and Walker offset each other because she’s a very upbeat person and on-paper driven, whereas he is very relationship driven.
Then the candidates were asked how they will support each member of the SGA so that they can be as productive as possible.
Patel said that he is big on making people smile and that making sure the board is always smiling and having fun will be one of his main initiatives.
“I love that,” he said. “It’s my motive, it’s why I live, it’s who I am.”
He also said that he wants to communicate that every member is as valuable as an executive board member.
“Our goal is to be their servants and to be their servants of change,” Patel said.
Kruszewski said that within the SGA committees there are people who would like to take on a bigger workload, so they would like to uncover those people and delegate more responsibility to them.
He also said that one of the most important things they want to stress is that they want roles to fit members and not force members to fit roles.
“I think that’s the main problem with why people feel like they’re experiencing such a high workload,” Kruszewski said.
The debate was then opened to questions from the audience, with the first question asking what the candidates’ main goals as president were.
Wenrick said that another goal of hers was to make sure students feel that they’re welcome on Gannon’s campus. She also said that she wants to encourage students on campus to interact with others.
“If I’m not chosen as president, I’m still going to run for executive board,” Wenrick said. “If I don’t get chosen for executive board, I’m still going to run for representative. I’m still going to take on those roles because I love SGA.”
Walker said that if she isn’t elected as president, she will also still be committed to SGA.
“What I really want to accomplish this year is that I want every single person, every club that we oversee, every student that is on our campus and has their own concerns, I want them to feel empowered,” she said. “I want them to know that they have the skills, they have the potential to achieve anything.”

SAMANTHA GRISWOLD
[email protected]