I recently got to sit down with Alex Pennycuff and Fuller Edwards, the candidates for SGA president and vice president with the Challenge campaign. I really enjoyed getting to know these guys, and their vision for the University of Tennessee.
Here's what they had to say:
1. Where are you from? Why did you choose UT? What is your major?
Alex: I am from Williamsburg, Virginia, and I chose UT because I wanted to get out of Virginia. I can see myself eventually going back to the Richmond area, and I wanted to explore before I went back. Also both of my parents are from Tennessee, and my uncle went here. It also has a great program for Supply Chain Management, which is my major.
Fuller: I am from Memphis, Tennessee and am a supply chain major. I made the decision to come to UT very late. I was stuck between Arkansas and Tennessee and ultimately made my decision after asking a few close friends where I should go. I came to Tennessee knowing very little about the school, but I knew I made the right decision after the first week.
2. What made you want to run for SGA President and Vice President?
Alex: After serving in senate and seeing the disconnect between students and the administration, it seemed that SGA was a voice to the students rather than for the students. This is what led us to run. A lot of different things happened that were out of touch with the students; SGA could have been doing more, but wasn’t. We ran because we want to help out in the long run of SGA, not just for us, but for all students.
Fuller: I never planned on running for vice president of SGA. When the deadline to form a campaign started to close in, Alex Pennycuff and I talked about campaigns that had already formed and the current state of SGA. We have seen poorly operated meetings and pieces of legislation that do not represent the consensus opinion of the student body in the SGA senate. We did not want to see the cycle of SGA being a voice to the students continue. We are running to advocate for what the students actually want and be a voice "For The Students."
3. What do you feel is your strongest policy point?
Alex: On this campaign, we want to put a focus on safety. Safety is just as big of an issue during the week as it is on the weekend. We aren’t trying to promote a culture of drinking, but instead a safe community. Drinking happens, sexual assault happens. We want to make sure we are doing the best we can to keep students safe. That is why we are promoting the wet campus. It should cut down on students walking back from The Fort drunk, or worse, driving. This policy would allow only students 21 and older to drink on campus in private rooms and apartments; student organizations can apply for site permits on campus to serve alcohol. Also, we want to light more areas across campus and establish a sexual assault task force.
Fuller: I believe that our policy to Advocate Efficient Spending is our strongest point. This is something that affects all students. We all spend a lot of money to get an education at the University of Tennessee and deserve to know what the money is being spent on. We plan to release an annual waste report where we will outline expenditures that our administration took on that we believe were wasteful and not in the best interest of the student body. SGA is here to advocate for the students instead of trying to justify the administration's decisions to them.
4. What are your goals if you are elected?
Alex: My overall goal is to elevate SGA to fullest potential, to get more students involved, and get more student support. Last year only 13.5 percent of students voted in the SGA elections, which shows students are not involved. At end of the day, we want to be for the students, not to the students.Fuller: If I am elected, I want to improve communication and feedback on SGA senate legislation. Not a lot of students are aware of the legislation that Senate is presenting and voting on. I want to expand efforts to communicate Senate legislation to the student body and offer an efficient way for students to express their opinions on said legislation. I also want to make sure senators are given proper feedback before they present legislation so that they are more prepared when they present in front of senate.
5. Why should students vote for you?
Alex: We are running for the right reasons. We didn’t always picture ourselves running. We served in senate and saw things we can change. We can make things happen and challenge ourselves to be better, the students to be more involved, and the administration to do more for the students.
Fuller: Students should vote for me because I have consistently spoken and fought for the consensus opinion of the student voice and will continue to do so as vice president.
6. What is your favorite Netflix series and why?
Alex: Blacklist is a great show. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and has a great storyline to follow. Everyone should check it out.
Fuller: My current favorite is the second season of Daredevil. I love all the Marvel superhero TV shows and movies. I think Daredevil is a great, mature take on these comic heroes. If I had to pick an overall favorite, it would be The Office. It is a great show that I can just casually watch a random episode of and always laugh.
I think the Challenge campaign would be a great fit for UT and they have my vote! If you want to find out more about them, you can check out the Facebook page here or follow them on twitter @vote_challenge.
SGA elections are April 5-7. To vote go to votesga.utk.edu.