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SGA holds debate for 2024-25 student body presidential candidates

Siri Patterson
Presidential candidate Jake Jensen and vice presidential candidate Maureen Hammer (right) share a laugh in between questions during the debate on March 26. The pair said their prior experience with SGA will help inform them if elected.
SGA presidential candidate Jake Jenson and vice presidential candidate Maureen Hammer speak on their important policies including promoting diverse communities and campus infrastructure.

The SGA hosted the presidential and vice presidential debate Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for the upcoming Spring 2024 student government elections.

For one hour, the candidates pleaded their cases for office in Plemmons Student Union, Linville Falls, room 226. They shared their values and goals for their presidencies and answered questions prepared by Elections Chair Savannah Raley as well as those raised by the audience in attendance.

Presidential candidate Kathryn Long, a senior communication sciences and disorders major, is not a member of SGA but her experience working for the tuition and fees committee inspired her to run for office.

 “I saw a space where students needed to be advocated for,” Long said.

Her running mate, vice presidential candidate Amarah Din, has been a member of SGA for three years. She refused requests to join the ballot on multiple occasions but said that when Long approached her with the request to run as her vice president, she “decided that this was the right time to do it, especially with everything that’s going on on campus and that students are facing.”

Kathryn Long (right) and Amarah Din are running as for the president and vice president positions, respectively. Long said on March 26 that the pair works well together because they balance each other out. (Siri Patterson)

Presidential candidate Jake Jensen and running mate, vice presidential candidate Maureen Hammer, said they will call on their experiences in leadership to inform their campaign and plans for presidency. 

“We’re running because we understand that the Student Government Association can be a great place for advocacy and we believe that we’ve built all of these connections over our time in this organization that will enable us to be effective advocates,” Jensen said. 

During the course of the debate, Long and Din called attention to the strength of their bond. They were close friends before launching their campaign and they feel that they are a well- balanced team because each of them has strengths in areas where the other struggles. 

“I’m excited for the future of us together in not just this role but also our friendship as she really does ground me when I’m too detail-oriented,” said Long about her goal-oriented running mate.

Jensen recounted the many roles he has held in SGA since arriving at App State. He started as a member of the Senate. He said he “had to learn the ropes of the organization and figure out what being an advocate actually means.” 

 He moved his way up through the ranks to recruitment officer, senate president and finally serving as the chief of staff before running for student body president.

Hammer has been a member of SGA for two years and holds leadership positions in her sorority. She currently serves as speaker of the assembly for the association. 

 Long and Din’s campaign is centered on three pillars: enrichment, authenticity and being student-driven. They repeatedly stated their belief in the importance of the words “student body” in the title of student body president.

Jensen and Hammer worked with the association through the long and ongoing process of building credibility and reaching administrators and members of the student body. Hammer said she and her running mate have seen the organization go “from its absolute worst to its absolute best” throughout their membership.

“One of the things that I take a lot of pride in having accomplished is being a big part of the rebuilding of our organization,” Jensen said.

When asked to recount their experiences serving the App State community, Din and Long shared examples of times that they made an effort to survey students directly about their needs, at one point encouraging engagement by handing out Krispy Kreme donuts. 

Acknowledging their intentions to continue serving the community during their presidency, Long said, “knowing that I’ve been an advocate in the past is going to help me to advocate in the future.”

 In her role in SGA, Hammer implemented service hours for SGA members which included involvement in river cleanups. This year the SGA was also able to establish a working relationship with App Builds a Home with her input.

She said she looks forward to establishing a relationship with the town of Boone “because Boone is not just App State.”

Long heard counseling services representative Chris Hogan talk about the mental health survey that is being issued to students at the SGA meeting on March 19. She said she was “appalled” to hear that “60% of App State students feel left out” when she heard the results of that survey.

 “SGA sets the scene for how we’re supposed to engage with students,” she said of herself and Din. They maintained that allocating money to student processing boards is something they are both passionate about.

Jensen and Hammer expressed intentions to make AppalCart work better for students and help Boone as a community become more sustainable.

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About the Contributors
Anna Adams
Anna Adams, News Reporter
Anna Adams (she/her/hers) is an English major with a minor in Sociology. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian.
K. Slade
K. Slade, Visual Managing Editor
K. Slade (she/her) is a senior journalism major. This is her third year with The Appalachian.
Siri Patterson
Siri Patterson, Managing Editor
Siri Patterson (she/her/hers) is a junior journalism major with a minor in political science. This is her second year writing for The Appalachian.
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