SBP Town Hall Debate Centers Around Unity, Student Development

Photo by Haley Davidson

Photo by Haley Davidson

Last Friday the student body watched as the two Student Body Presidential candidates lightheartedly shared funny stories and showcased their dance skills in the SBP Bonanza, but just 24 hours before that the candidates faced off in a serious debate.

Throughout the debate candidates Stuart Clay and Michael Martinez introduced new concepts while also clarified ideas they already advertised.

The debate opened with each candidate giving a brief introduction to their platforms and themselves as a candidate.

“Stuart and I ate lunch together on our first day," Martinez opened. 

He continued, pointing out that “it’s important to unite and give to each other as a student body.” Martinez charged the students of Kings to “be today the leaders that this college is shaping us to be tomorrow.”

"What I think we lack is a sense of pride that we are part of a larger student body," Clay said in his opening statement.

Clay proposed that students could change this because  “doing physical action can change the disposition of our heart.” He recommended going to sports games to cheer on friends as a way to plug into the community. He added, “I want to take practical steps towards going towards that in the future.”

After the quick opening speeches, the candidates braced themselves for questions from students, with the first coming from Churchill President Peter Murphy. Martinez responded first to Murphy’s question, which asked about their readiness to sacrifice for King’s.

“The answer has a lot to do with vulnerability … failure is okay here," Martinez noted. "You can make mistakes.”

In response to the same question, Clay talked about the different leadership roles and campaigns he had led during his time at King’s that pushed him outside of himself.

“All these things are not things that I’m comfortable doing, but King's is challenging me to do them," Clay stated. 

After the first question a series of questions followed from house presidents, student organization leaders, and audience members.

On the topic of the role of the SBP in relation to the Council and Cabinet Clay pointed out that it is about service.

"You’re here to serve the school not just to serve your people or to do what you want to do," Clay said.

Martinez clarified his vision of the role of the SBP.

"It would be my job to hear each one of your voices the best I can ... and bring that to student development," Martinez replied. 

Behind every successful person is a slew of people who influenced and shaped them and both candidates are no exception to this assertion. When asked, but of them eagerly pointed to faculty members and professors who have invested in them.

"Dr. Bradley...helps me see perspective, that caring for people is what is important," Clay noted.

He included Dr. Johnson on the list of influential figures in his life.

“Something that Dr. Johnson is great at is telling the guys what’s up without a bunch of crap," Clay said. "[I try to emulate this by] speaking to [C.S. Lewis House members] in a way that is plain and forward.”

“Luke Smith … has been like a big brother to me," Martinez said, adding that with Eric Bennett “it just takes one cup of coffee and you’ve spilled every secret that you’ve ever kept.”

The knowing upperclassmen in the crowd chuckled when Martinez applauded Bennett's ability to “envelope in love and shelter you in his being.”

On the pressing topic of issues with diversity and exclusion with marginalized minorities Clay did not claim any insider knowledge on the pain that minorities face. Instead, he said that “the main thing, I think, is for future [leaders] to listen” in order to learn how they can change the status quo. Martinez recalled his early years at King’s when he was “ignorant” to many of the issues minorities face. He pointed to more Difficult Discussion panels as a way to open student’s eyes to the issues groups face.

In closing Martinez reminded students that “it’s here that we can create things that matter not only for this community but also for eternity.” He wants to do this by creating a culture where we believe the best of each other and know that “investing in one another where we recognize that, yes, we are different but we’re also the same too. If this is what we do with our days I believe it will be time well spent."

Clay told students that, despite the issues there may be the school, King’s is something to be thankful for in the end. "

I think that’s something to be proud of," Clay added. “You can belong here.”