SGA to hold officer elections

Alex Hopper, News Editor

The University of North Alabama’s Student Government Association is holding officer elections from Feb. 15 to Feb. 17. 

SGA elections are an integral part of student life on campus, as SGA acts on behalf of the students making sure their voices are heard on important university matters. 

The positions students will vote on include secretary, treasurer, vice president, and president. 

Carson Brite is one of two presidential candidates. 

Brite is a political science major from Summertown, Tenn., and is the current vice president of SGA. 

“I feel like, over the three years that I’ve been in SGA, I’ve been working toward this moment,” said Brite. “I’m working towards being able to finally establish a platform.”

Brite was a member of Freshman Forum and the Senate. 

He was elected as vice president this term. 

There are many exciting projects that Brite has worked on for SGA.

“When I was a freshman senator, that was when the Bibb Graves movement started,” said Brite. “That has been one of the things I am most proud of doing.”

SGA condoned a resolution from the university declaring the intention to rename Bibb Graves Hall last spring due to the namesake’s controversial history. 

“In my experience in SGA, I’ve tried to make sure that if there’s a group on campus that is not getting represented, I want them to be represented,” said Brite.

 “I believe that we are only efficient as a student government if we are representing all the interests of our student body,” said Brite. 

Brite intends to use the presidency to address any discrimination issues students are facing on campus. 

“When it comes to racial discrimination, gender discrimination – those are things that are very important to me,” said Brite. 

“That’s ultimately what led me to run for SGA President because I feel like we deserve a president that’s willing to work for the issues that are actually impacting students,” said Brite.

One of the top issues for Brite is combating racial injustice. 

“If there’s one issue that I think is most prevalent right now it’s racial injustice,” said Brite. “I was shocked and saddened by the scenes that we saw last summer but it was also a call to action.”

“I was lucky enough to be involved with a prayer March. A few fraternity brothers of mine and a few members of the black sorority on campus, organized a prayer march for some local ministers,” said Brite.

Brite believes the fight for racial justice is ongoing and is essential to address on UNA’s campus.

“We’ve had historic achievements, especially when it comes to Dr. Gunn,” said Brite.

Wendell Walkie Gunn was the first Black student at UNA in 1965, making UNA the first four-year university in Ala. to integrate. 

“But that’s not enough. That can’t ever be enough,” said Brite. “We have to continue to work until everyone is treated equally.”

Running against Brite is Jake Statom. 

Statom is an engineering major, minoring in chemistry, from Tuscumbia, Ala. 

Statom was also involved in Freshman Forum and is now in the SGA senate. 

“I’ve had a good experience the whole time,” said Statom. “I thoroughly enjoyed Freshman Forum, it was one of the things that really made me fall in love with the university.”

Statom’s decision to run for SGA president was influenced by his faith. 

“After talking to people [about his candidacy], I felt led by the spirit to go and serve students.”

Service is one of the main pillars of Statom’s candidacy.

“I love serving the university,” said Statom. “It’s not just a political thing for me, I want to make the university better and keep it thriving.” 

Statom is an advocate for Project 208, a university initiative that highlights the need for fairness in funding for UNA as compared to other four-year universities in the state. 

“We’ve been trying to increase our state funding over the years,” said Statom. “The university needs more funding to grow and advance.”

Statom’s platform involves increasing the involvement of SGA in student’s lives. 

“it’s a three-fold platform,’ said Statom. “Firstly, I really want to increase awareness and involvement of SGA in individual student’s lives.”

“The second part is to increase SGA’s involvement in the Shoals cities,” said Statom.

Current SGA president, Tate Gooch, established a liaison program within the Shoals area, for members of the Senate to serve as representatives for UNA on the city council. 

Statom hopes to continue this partnership. 

“The third part of this is to get SGA involved in state government,” said Statom. “Which is where Project 208 comes in.”

Statom reiterates that running for SGA president is about wanting to continue his service to the students of UNA. 

“I’m not really much of a political figure. But I think I’m a pretty good servant,” said Statom. 

Kayla Walton is running for vice president of SGA. 

Walton is a junior, majoring in computer science, from Florence, Ala. 

Like Brite and Statom, she was also involved with Freshman Forum and Senate. She served on the Student Welfare Committee on both councils. 

Now, she is the chairwoman of the Student Welfare Committee. 

“The Student welfare committee basically ensures the fair treatment of students, faculty, and staff at UNA,” said Walton.

 “We address issues that students have,” said Walton. “Whether it be safety issues or initiatives like the mental health matters event.” 

Walton hopes to continue the work she has already done with SGA as vice president. 

“I decided to run for vice president because I just love student government, I love UNA and I wanted to make a difference on this campus – continuing the work that I’ve already done,” said Walton. 

“My slogan is ‘Work with Walton’. I really want to work to increase accessibility to the representatives, increase diversity and inclusion within SGA, and increase transparency within SGA,” said Walton. 

Walton believes combating the COVID-19 pandemic is a top priority. 

“I think the number one issue facing students right now is, like everybody else, COVID-19,” said Walton. 

“I think it’s important that we value our physical health, and advocate for the fair treatment of students during this time,” said Walton. 

Along with physical health, Walton also stresses the importance of student mental health due to COVID-19. 

“Mental health can take its toll right now, especially when we’re all isolated from each other,” said Walton. 

Walton also believes in advocating for all students to feel safe on campus. 

“If we have students on this campus that don’t feel safe because of the color of their skin, or because of their sexual orientation, or their religious beliefs – that’s a problem,” said Walton. “We’re all students, and we should all be treated equally.”

One main point of Walton’s campaign is student accessibility to SGA. 

“When we think about an institution, I don’t think we should think of faculty or research first,” said Walton. “I think it should be students first because, without us, there wouldn’t be a campus.”

“The issues we vote on affect students so it is important that they have accessibility to their representatives,” said Walton. “Accessibility to express their concerns.”

Walton expresses that involvement within SGA is for everyone and that voting in the upcoming election is a way for your voice to be heard. 

“I strongly encourage anyone interested to apply, because it is a place for everyone,” said Walton. “It’s a place for you to use your voice.” 

“The importance of voting is that you’re displaying your voice,” said Walton. “That’s important because it brings in a student’s perspective to an institution.”

UNA students can use their voices to influence the future of SGA starting Feb. 15. 

The ballot for the president and vice president positions, as well as other officers, will be included on the homecoming ballot. 

UNA Sophomore and Engineering major Jake Statom is running for SGA President.
UNA Junior and Political Science major Carson Brite is running for SGA President.
UNA Junior and Computer Science major Kayla Walton is running for Vice President of Senate.