In the first official debate of the campaign season, the Greek Student Body hosted the two student body president candidates, juniors Savannah Putnam and Garima Tomar, on Sunday.
Representatives from each of the four Greek organizations on campus — the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association, the Greek Alliance Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council — moderated the debate, asking candidates what their stances are on Greek community issues such as hazing and Greek unity, as well as issues affecting the student body at large such as diversity programs, mental health programs and underrepresented groups on campus.
Putnam emphasized using student voice to implement change on campus. When asked how she would address unifying the undergraduate and graduate student bodies following their split, she said she wants to create student feedback systems in both student bodies so that the voice in student government is driven from the bottom-up.
“Student voice is a powerful mechanism of change,” she said. “And the University needs to tap into that to create positive, tangible change.”
Putnam said she would use that student feedback in creating her policies, so they would be flexible to student needs and would be used in student government’s stance on university issues.
“Student policy should be an exact reflection of what the student body finds most valuable,” Putnam said. “My platform is built off of advocacy, advocating for students who don’t feel like they have voices in student government and therefore don’t have a voice with the administration.”
Tomar also emphasized the use of student voice, but through establishing a connection with University administration, reforming student government and reallocating student fees, taking a more active stance than Putnam.
“The biggest part of my platform is directly giving the power of student government back to students themselves,” she said.
Tomar said based on her three-year experience serving on the Student Fee Audit Committee, the most impactful change can be done through student fee money and advising the Board of Trustees on student organization funding.