At SGA debate, candidates talk diversity, putting promises into action

Alex Ballard, Abby Tan and Saba Amid discussed their ideas and policies during the student government presidential and vice-presidential debate March 5. Photo by Mia Fortunato

A year after losing the vice president vote to senior Arianna Ngnomire, junior Alex Ballard stood on the Student Union stage again March 5.

Ballard, who serves as the allocations chair and upperclassmen senator and is now running for student government president. His opponent, Saba Amid, a sophomore candidate is also running for president alongside Abby Tan, the sole vice presidential candidate.

The three candidates debated their campaign points in front of an audience of about 25 students.

Ballard and Amid focused their debate largely on Chapman’s diversity gap and listening to students.

Ballard, who has been involved in student government for three years, argued that his knowledge and experience make him the best candidate. He is currently working on a sexual misconduct policy/Title IX resolution with Dodge College senator Lindsey Ellis.

“The biggest problem facing the university is disregard for the student voice on campus,” Ballard said.

“I’ve noticed that it is a pattern in the culture of Chapman,” Ballard said.

While Amid, who serves as the Wilkinson College for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences senator and the university and Academic Affairs chair, does not have as much experience working in student government, she believes her cultural background as an Iranian-American can help bridge the diversity gap she said she sees on campus.

Although student government doesn’t utilize official presidential and vice presidential tickets, Amid is running alongside vice presidential candidate Tan, who serves as the Schmid School of Science and Technology senator, and believes that their backgrounds as two women of color have given them a nuanced perspective on Chapman’s diversity issues.

“As a community, sometimes we lack that bond that drives us together as a school. We all go to Chapman; we all should be proud that we go to Chapman,” Amid said. “I want to make campus something that we can be proud of. That’s why I’m on student government.”

Amid has also focused her campaign on issues including equal resources to study materials, textbooks and necessities for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

“While I haven’t been on (student government) as long, I don’t have as much experience as Alex does, I do think that my passion sets me apart,” Amid said.

But turning promises into action is something Ballard believes he has a strong record of.

“It’s one thing to put out a platform and have these ideas and goals, but it’s another thing to follow through on those things and have a plan of action to do it,” Ballard said. “And personally, I know I’ve done that.”

In response to Ballard’s statement, Amid spoke about representing her constituents by working on the advisory board for the Wilkinson Student Leadership Council. She also spoke on her involvement with the initiative that brought free menstrual products to women’s bathrooms in spring 2018.

“I will deliver on the promises I make and I don’t stand here and make empty promises to you, because that’s not what I do,” Amid said.

Voting for the three candidates will close Wednesday at 5 p.m. and the results will be announced shortly after, at 6 p.m. Students can vote by visiting chapmanvotes.com.