Mixed reviews of SBP debate


Photo by Tiffany Owens. Reese Evans, Fermin Villalpando and Tyler Hinsley took center stage on Tuesday, Feb. 17, for the Student Body President debate.

Cori O’Connor, Editor-in-Chief of the Empire State Tribune, moderated the debate. She reformatted the debate structure, giving each candidate a series of direct questions, opportunities to question each other and two minutes of concurrent speaking. Current Student President, Maxine Fileta kept time.

To start things off, O’Connor gave each candidate a chance to explain why he chose to run for office. Reese Evans emphasized his love for The King’s College mission.

"Bringing Christ with you in the workplace is one of the most important things to me,” Evans said.

Villalpando said he wanted to be President in order to give a voice to all students--including those on the periphery, those who avoid debates and meetings--and to represent more diverse interests in the Council.

“Without an effective Council there cannot be effective student government," Villalpando said.

Hinsley said that his experience as President of the Student Athletics Advisory Committee (SAAC) and the encouragement of upperclassmen were deciding factors in his decision to run.“I love the school, I love interacting with students, so why not?” Hinsley said.

As President, Hinsley promised to emphasize athletics and improve access to Career Development resources. “What’s different is that [I would] focus on athletics along with creating opportunities,” he said.

O’Connor pushed for clarity on several of the candidates’ initiatives. She asked Evans, who announced his intention to give each House the money to go on a retreat, exactly what line in the Council budget that money would come from.

Evans replied that he “hated the fact that some Houses don’t have something to look forward to,” and said he would incentivize the House Presidents to draw funding away from other events to make House retreats a possibility. He didn't define the incentives he'd offer.

O’Connor also questioned Evans on the similarity between his platform and that of Jonathan Lile, who ran for Student Body President last year, and who preceded Evans as President of the House of Ronald Reagan.

O’Connor challenged Hinsley’s motion to add a SAAC member to the Council, asking him to explain the benefit. She also urged Villalpando to explain his plan for requiring House Presidents to share information from Council meetings with their members. Neither Villalpando nor Hinsley were able to offer specifics but suggested they were open to collaboration and discussion on how to implement these ideas.

Collaboration was a key theme in the debate. Evans defended his platform, saying it was proof of his ability to learn from others and build upon the past. “I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants,” he said.

Hinsley agreed with him and cited listening and making “educated decisions... with authority” as the most important traits of a student leader.

Enthusiasm after the debate was high, with students posting fliers around campus for follow up Q & A sessions. Reese's campaign handed out Reese's Peanut Butter cups.

Some students had mixed reviews of the debate. Freshmen Enoma Osakue and Nicole Cervantes said that the debate seemed to them like a popularity contest. If nothing else, the debates gave them a chance to see the personalities of the candidates, they concluded.

“It’s important for the freshman class to have someone who is approachable and available,” Cervantes said. “That’s what Maxine was for us. I want that for the next year too.”

Osakue added that even though questions about leadership qualifications came up, she’s not looking for someone who “has it all.” Rather, she said she’s looking for someone who can “bring out the best in everyone’s talents,” adding that “leadership at King’s is not a one-man show.”

But not all students were impressed. Senior, Josiah Chapman said he felt the debates showed how little people understand about the role of SBP. He pointed out that none of the platforms were original. “Fermin’s was hasty, Reese was a rebirth of last year’s, and Tyler’s was generic,” he said. “I was surprised by how shallow the discourse was.”

On Monday, Feb. 23, the three candidates will give their final speeches. Voting will take place Feb. 23 and 24.