As another year heads towards finals, graduation, and summer, the student body attended the candidate debate and voted for representatives of the Student Government Association (SGA) and Order of the Gown (OG). This year, Sofie Behr (C’24) and Orion Gant (C’24) ran for the OG presidency, while Lily Oakley (C’24) and Claire Langford (C’24) ran for SGA president. After the debate, elections were opened to students for one week They were closed the following Thursday, and Sofie Behr and Claire Langford were announced as the 2023-24 OG and SGA presidents in an email to students and faculty.
The debate took place Thursday in Convocation Hall. Maggie Lorenzen (C’24) presided as president of the Sewanee Debate Union. Alex Robinson (C’23) and Anna McCasland (C’23), the current OG and SGA presidents respectively, gave speeches at the beginning of the debate. “Thank you all for trusting me this year, and moving forward, I have so much confidence in these two brilliant women, as they both bring so much promise to Sewanee’s future, not only next year, but in the years after they graduate,” said McCasland.
What followed was an hour long debate among the four candidates, some questions for OG only, and others only for SGA. The candidates began by introducing themselves and their platform, which had previously been posted on social media.
Both SGA presidential candidates discussed transparency with students regarding SGA happenings and communications with administration. More specifically, Oakley focused on transparency, student safety, and connectivity, while Langford emphasized transparency, accountability, and increased access to resources for students. “I will add additional requirements to the communications and marketing chair in order to increase visibility and communication,” said Langford. “My senate will also hold open monthly meetings.”
Both Oakley and Langford were experienced candidates. Oakley served on SGA as a senator for the past year, and Langford served as a member of SGA for the past three years, two of which were spent on the executive council as the marketing and communications chair.
The OG presidential candidates discussed their platforms as well, focusing on academic issues in equity and transparency. Gant described her platform as primarily promoting equity through education, increasing communication through transparency, and improving student well-being. Gant said she would focus heavily on promoting the women and gender studies major as a way to increase information among students about equity and diverse identities on campus.
Behr said she viewed the OG as a “progressive form of student government which should strive to meet the academic needs of students.” Behr said she would focus on transparency, student success, and accessibility. “I will focus on creating open communication between students and administration. I will address and improve student resources through open education initiatives to lower the cost burden of academics and increase alumni networking. And finally, I will work in constant collaboration with SGA to facilitate their endeavors,” said Behr.
The debate was centered around the candidates’ plans for the next year, with questions about conflicts between students and administration, what the individual roles of SGA and OG mean, and how the candidates would have constructed a relationship with the incoming vice chancellor. The audience was then invited to ask questions.
All candidates said they would foster a relationship with The Sewanee Purple to increase transparency between student organizations and the student body. Oakley stated that she would invite a writer from The Purple to attend every SGA meeting. Candidates also discussed how they would work in conjunction with ISC/IFC to promote more efficient project finishing.
The Order of the Gown also moved to pass a new proposed constitution and standing rules. At least two thirds of the Order must vote on the new constitution for it to pass. OG decided to extend the voting period for the proposed changes. You can view and vote on the proposed constitution and standing rules here.