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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Candidates highlight diversity, tradition, mental health as key topics at student body president panel

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Photo by Will Nye
Student Body President Candidate Panel

Five candidates for 2021-2022 student body president appeared virtually on Feb. 22 at the SBP Panel hosted by the Student Government Association’s Election Commission.
Moderated by Angela Winkler, assistant director of Student Life, the debate consisted of opening statements, two rounds of questions — one with student-submitted questions and one with questions from other candidates — and closing statements. Candidates present at the panel included Matt Ryan, Josh Feldman, Blake Martin, Charlie Frawley and Natalie Parks. SBP candidate Chase Newsom was not present at the event, but remains on the ballot, Election Commissioner Cara Maxwell said.
To start the evening, each candidate gave opening remarks introducing themselves and their platforms and highlighting issues they would like to address if elected.
Business junior Matt Ryan’s experiences as freshman class president and in the Corps of Cadets are what he says sparked his love for A&M and inspired him to run for SBP.
“What differentiates me from previous student body presidents is that I’m willing to work hard every single day,” Ryan said. “I think that together we can work and reach out to more students across campus and we can work with more organizations. The students are what give this university life. Through my campaign, we will work together with a lot of student organizations to create an inclusive and great place for all Aggies to have their opinions heard [so] we can work together to make A&M a better place as well.”
Business management junior Charlie Frawley, a second-generation Aggie, said his path to campaigning for SBP was a direct result of how well he was treated upon arriving in Aggieland.
“Whenever I set foot on campus, I could not have imagined the type of impact that the Aggie Spirit would have on me,” Frawley said. “Because I was served so well, I seek to serve the student body in any way that I can.”
Frawley underlined access to mental health care, the allocation of resources to all students and advancements in service as the key focus areas of his campaign.
Throughout the debate, several candidates stressed the importance of university mental health services, Aggie traditions, and diversity, equity and inclusion as topics that should be preserved and improved upon.
On the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion, public management 3+2 student Josh Feldman said as SBP he would work to involve minority populations and graduate students in his decision-making.
“We need to create a larger commission with minority voices to give them a seat at the table,” Feldman said. “I think the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission is a step in the right direction. Now, we need to create actionable differences and the first step is to give people a seat at the table.”
Political science junior Blake Martin said if he is elected SBP, on day one, he will work with university administration to develop a course on the history of A&M that would be required for all freshman students.
“If we do this, this is one way we can solve the tradition problem and the identity problem,” Martin said. “We do not know who we are as a school right now, and we need to return to those Core Values. It would give [students] a sense of belonging, [and] it would give them a sense of history at this school.”
Communication junior Natalie Parks said she would begin working to develop a “TAMU by You” as SBP. If elected, Parks will be the fifth female student body president in the A&M Student Government Association’s 74-year history.
“[My campaign] envisions a campus that is made better because of you and your ideas,” Parks said. “My platform has been shaped by the input of real student voices, [and] our vision is based on action items pertaining to pillars of wellness, inclusion and tradition. From enhancing tradition outreach and education, to prioritizing our mental health as college students, to even providing more inclusive food options on campus, my vision will create a TAMU that is better for us as students.”
Voting for student body elections opens at vote.tamu.edu at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25 and closes at 12 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26. To listen to the entirety of the student body president candidates’ remarks, click here.

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