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The Battalion

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Five for Yell declines to participate in SGA’s first-ever yell leader debate, other candidates field student questions

Political+science+sophomore+Hayes+Duffy%2C%26%23160%3Bchemistry+junior+Hugo+Casillas+and+agricultural+leadership+and+development+junior+Gilberto+Rebolloso%26%23160%3Bparticipated+in+Tuesday%26%238217%3Bs+debate.
Photo by Megan Cusick

Political science sophomore Hayes Duffy, chemistry junior Hugo Casillas and agricultural leadership and development junior Gilberto Rebolloso participated in Tuesday’s debate.

UPDATE, Feb. 20:
At Wednesday night’s Student Senate meeting, Junior Yell Leader and senior yell candidate Reid Williams offered an explanation for he and his fellow 5 for Yell candidates’ absence from Tuesday’s debate.
Williams attended the meeting with junior yell candidate Keller Cox and senior yell candidate Kenny Cantrell. Each delivered a short campaign speech to the assembled senators. Before the candidates left, Diversity and Inclusion Chair Adel Quntar asked Williams why 5 for Yell decided not to attend the SGA-sponsored debate.
“A yell debate really didn’t coexist with the role of a yell leader,” Williams said. “As a yell leader, you are unifying the student body with Texas A&M athletics. We unify the 12th man. And 5 for Yell is not going to position ourself in a situation that could divide the student body, so that’s why we chose not to go.”
In a joint statement released shortly after, the 5 for Yell candidates further explained their decision.
“Yell Leader is a position that serves to be an intermediary between the Student Body and Texas A&M athletics,” the statement reads. “Yell Leaders strive to bring Aggies together as one. We are the Aggies, the Aggies are we. True to each other, as Aggies could be. Since debates can be divisive, and we had already committed to speak to several student organizations, Five for Yell decided not to participate in the debate. Five for Yell will strive to continue the legacy of the Yell Leaders without putting ourselves in situations that could lead to division amongst the student body.”
Original article, published Feb. 19:
Three of the eight candidates running for yell leader positions answered student-submitted questions in a debate Tuesday night.
Hosted by the Election Commission of the Student Government Association, the debate took place in the MSC Flag Room. The discussion was moderated by Scot Walker, assistant vice president of communications at the Association of Former Students and Class of 1990. Throughout the two rounds of questioning, the participants were given two minutes to answer the inquiries which pertained to general topics on school spirit and each candidate’s goals for the positions.
Participants included senior yell candidates Hugo Casillas and Gilberto Rebolloso, along with junior yell candidate Hayes Duffy. Candidates from the 5 for Yell campaign — Karsten Lowe, Reid Williams, Jacob Huffman, Kenny Cantrell and Keller Cox — did not attend the debate. Five for Yell campaign staff declined to comment about the candidates’ absence.
The Election Commission typically only holds debates for student body president candidates. Walker said the yell leader candidates were rightfully getting a similar opportunity to directly address students’ questions.
“I think it was overdue to have a panel discussion for the yell leader candidates,” Walker said. “It’s difficult for the candidates to get around and to get in front of all the students because the election campaign window is very short, and there are a lot of students. This is an important opportunity for the students who vote to learn about the candidates.”
Rebolloso said a major part of his campaign is to promote diversity on campus.
“Yell leaders have the amazing opportunity to embody A&M’s traditions and spirit and then give it to the students,” Rebolloso said. “The ambassadors of the university should reflect A&M’s coming diversity.”
Casillas said as yell leader, he would emphasize maintaining the Aggie Spirit even as the school grows and changes.
“It’s as simple as saying ‘Howdy!’ more when you pass people down the street,” Casillas said.
Duffy said he distinctly remembers his first time interacting with yell leaders when he was a freshman and aims to have that same type of lasting impression on people if selected.
“The fact that the yell leaders have the kind of power and the platform to inspire people like me — just a normal Aggie — to want to be in their shoes and to want to impact people, I’d love to be one of those people,” Duffy said. “Hopefully, I have an impact on at least one person.”
SGA election commissioner Mary Franklin said she was encouraged by the student interest in the debate and how the candidates fared in response to questioning.
“We were really excited that we got some interest from the yell leader candidates,” Franklin said. “We got a lot of responses from the student body when we sent out the questionnaire for students to submit questions, so there seems to be a lot of interest on both sides.”
Political science senior Kate Wynn said the debate was a good chance for students to familiarize themselves with candidates and get impressions of their individual personalities.
“[Yell leader] is definitely one of the important positions,” Wynn said. “You want to make sure you’re really educated who you’re going to be voting for and know kind of what their character is or what kind of people you’re going to be voting on to represent you.”
Voting for student elections will be open online at vote.tamu.edu on Thursday and Friday.

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  • Junior Yell Leader and senior yell candidate Reid Williams fielded a question at Wednesday evening’s Senate meeting as to why the 5 for Yell candidates did not attend attend Tuesday’s yell leader debate.

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