Caroline Carter

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government elections at UT have never drawn a large turnout, and this year’s competition for Student Body president and vice president will likely be no exception. Presidential candidates Kori Rady and Kenton Wilson, flanked by vice-presidential candidates Taylor Strickland and Caroline Carter, respectively, are members of the same fraternal organization and are both members of traditional spirit groups. Much of what we saw from both campaigns was almost identical, including their campaign videos, which were nearly the same frame-by-frame. With such similar resumes and styles, many students may think it’s pointless to cast a ballot. However, following interviews with the candidates, a debate co-moderated by Daily Texan Editor-in-Chief Laura Wright and long conversations about the teams’ respective qualifications, this editorial board has teased out enough key differences between the candidates to endorse Rady-Strickland. 

Our reasoning? First off, Rady demonstrated a better understanding of how SG actually works, recognizing limitations to legislation and the importance of relationships with administrators, indicated by his commitment to the uRide program and the student scholarship initiative. 

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Wilson and Carter have run the better campaign. They have been on more organizational listservs, the subject of more Facebook statuses and at the front of more meetings. They also campaigned on more innovative policy points — particularly the presidential council (a committee gathering student leaders from organizations around campus) and their plans to pursue a student activity center on East Riverside Drive. Miles away from the traditional core of UT’s campus, East Riverside has become a hub of affordable student housing, and a student activity center would be hugely beneficial to the growing number of Longhorns who live in the area. 

But the idea of tackling such a massive project — one that would likely need the support of a major donor, the UT System Board of Regents and the UT president — is, quite simply, unrealistic. While we appreciate the effort to be forward-thinking and innovative, we can’t help but prefer Rady’s realistic, achievable platform points that will concretely improve life on the 40 Acres in the short-term, and we were disappointed in the Wilson-Carter campaign’s inability to admit the difficulty of achieving one of their main platform points. 

It was also frustrating, however, that the tensest exchange of the debate came when Rady and Wilson sparred over the effects that a fall break would have on fraternity and sorority recruitment. The two candidates went back and forth for several minutes, longer than they did on any other issue. Considering the fact that the Greek community’s concerns pale in comparison to other campus groups’ concerns over the initiative — particularly the possible impact that an extra day off would have on natural science lab schedules — this focus on Greek candidates was disconcerting. 

Both Rady’s and Wilson’s previous experiences are key to their understanding of the role of the president. Wilson’s position as speaker of the assembly allows him to stand at the helm of the assembly and required him to know all the rules and keep order. However, the position also makes being involved in actual legislation much more difficult. The speaker cannot be involved in legislation itself and would have to move out of the position temporarily and have another SG member replace him in order to jump in and have a say in the proceedings. This may be the reason Wilson has focused on making initiatives happen without legislation. Rady, as external financial director on the executive board, worked closely with the current alliance headed by Villarreal and Williams. Rady has repeatedly cited his experience and shadowing the alliance, which has given him the edge on understanding how to push forward SG initiatives at the executive level.

Both teams have proven themselves to be incredibly well spoken, knowledgeable and interested in student issues. But, at the end of the day, we are more confident with Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland’s realistic platform, experience with SG procedure, relationships with administrators and engagement with underrepresented groups on campus. Students can vote for the SG executive alliance along with the other campus representative positions at www.utexasvote.org Wednesday and Thursday. We encourage you to vote Rady-Strickland.

Kenton Wilson, left, and Kornel “Kori” Rady spoke at the Student Government candidate debates at the Student Activity Center on Monday evening. Wilson and Rady are both running for the SG president position. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

At the Student Government debate Monday night, executive alliance candidates highlighted their differences on the issues of a new program, Safe Ride, a student activity center in the Riverside area and their respective involvements in the Greek community. 

Kenton Wilson and his running mate Caroline Carter took issue with Kori Rady’s support for an expansion of the URide program, which gives students rides home late at night from the PCL. Rady helped author the SG legislation initiating the program last fall. Rady and his running mate Taylor Strickland said they hope to start a similar program, called Safe Ride, to taxi students home from Sixth Street.

“I don’t like to see student fees going towards something like that as opposed to something that serves all students,” Wilson said. 

Rady and Strickland both said the program would give students a safer option to get home instead of waiting half an hour for a bus.

“It’s one thing to take us to our respective neighborhoods, but the next step would be right to our doorstep,” Strickland said. “Sometimes, that walk from the bus stop is also an issue.”

The Rady-Strickland campaign also disagreed with Wilson-Carter’s support for the creation of a student activity center in the Riverside area.

“The [center] in Riverside is interesting, but I wouldn’t want to pay for a facility I would never use,” Rady said.

Wilson said he did not know how much the initiative would cost and estimated the building would take several years to complete. He said a study location at Riverside would be safer for students who live off campus.

Without endorsements from the Interfraternity Council, known as IFC, both alliances said their work with the IFC and the University Panhellenic Council, known as UPC, were important parts of their platform. As a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Carter is the only candidate directly involved the Greek community.

“I would not be a part of Student Government if it had not been for my involvement in Kappa Kappa Gamma as a freshman,” Carter said.

Rady said, although he and his running mate are not in the Greek community, they have worked directly with the IFC and UPC to develop their platform.

“Our platform points of Safe Ride and the extended Thanksgiving break has garnered massive support from the Greeks,” Rady said.

Wilson also said he would not accept his stipend if elected. The student body president currently receives a $6,840 stipend, which Wilson said he would give to SG agencies instead if elected.

“Stipends are put forward by Student Government to create a level playing field,” Wilson said. “Fortunately, I haven’t had to have a job while I’m in school. That’s not the initial purpose of the stipend; therefore, I will not be taking one.”

Strickland said she had not given the stipend much thought since election season was still going on.

“At the same time, it is very important to understand that it is an option for [the executive alliance] because we are unable to take jobs because it is a very big time consumption,” Strickland said.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff
Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government presidential and vice presidential candidates Kenton Wilson and Caroline Carter have been involved in a total of 19 student organizations in their combined seven years at the University, a feat Wilson believes makes the duo a good fit for the student leadership positions.

“Since I’ve been a part of so many areas on campus, it’s really shown me how Student Government reaches different areas of UT,” said Wilson, a philosophy and government senior.

The team said they talked about running together in late April.

“It was Kenton’s roommate who brought up the idea of running for vice president,” Carter, a marketing and international relations and global studies junior, said. “The idea kind of died away, but when Kenton approached me about running it just kind of clicked.”Wilson and Carter have 18 platform goals, including maintaining bus routes, creating a campus-wide homecoming and adding more opportunities to hear student opinions.

“If leaders in organizations can really voice their concerns, I think that’s huge,” said Carter, a marketing and international relations and global studies senior. “We have so many amazing organizations that, unfortunately, Student Government does not communicate with.”

To give students more opportunities to voice their concerns, Carter said she hopes to create a presidential council allowing presidents of student organizations to meet once a month and discuss logistical issues.

“We’re hoping that will start a conversation about campus climate,” Carter said.

Wilson said he also wants to create a “We The Students Petition,” which would require student government to give a formal response and assess what can be done if a petition were signed by 300 students or more. “In the past, we feel like student government hasn’t done a good job reaching all of its constituents,” Wilson said. “We want to be as transparent as possible.” Carter said being an out-of-state student who has only been in SG for a year gave her a different perspective on ways to transform the organization. Wilson said he admired these aspects when selecting a running mate.

“I was really excited to see the fire she could bring to Student Government,” Wilson said. “I saw her come into the assembly and get elected to the Chair of Student Affairs Committee and immediately started tackling all of her different platform initiatives.”

This year, Wilson served as speaker of the assembly and said he was counseled to only moderate and facilitate others passing legislation, but during his junior year he helped write legislation in support of suicide prevention and legislation in support of healthy vending machines.

Carter said she unanimously passed legislation in support of a campus wide homecoming.

Wilson said his platform’s focus on more specific goals is what differentiates him and Carter from the current executive alliance.

“I think we’re coming in with many strong points that we’ve had many conversations with administrators on campus and we’re going to get it done,” Wilson said. “I’m just looking for quick, tangible changes that can be made to the student experience that will show people on campus that SG is there to work for them.”

Monday marked the first day students hoping to get elected to Student Government could begin filing for candidacy.

Among the first-day filers are two pairs of executive alliances vying to be the student body president and vice president this upcoming year.

SG’s external finance director Kornel Rady and University-wide representative Taylor Strickland will be forming one alliance, while University-wide representatives Kenton Wilson and Caroline Carter will be forming another one.

Rady and Strickland are communication studies seniors. Wilson is a government senior and Carter is a marketing, international relations and global studies senior.

The filing period will continue through Feb. 11. Students can file to run for an executive alliance, a University-wide representative or a college representative. Once the filing period closes, the official campaign season begins as candidates are forbidden campaign until that point.

Election day will be Feb. 26 and Feb. 27.