Diversity, student mental health and sustainability took center stage Thursday as University of Maryland SGA executive board candidates outlined their policy priorities during a debate at Stamp Student Union.

Student body president candidate Scott Cronin, a junior government and politics major running with Aspire Maryland, said that one of the most pressing issues facing the student body is school affordability. He also supports policies that prioritize students, including standardizing classroom mental health policies

“There can’t be subjectivity in what professors are allowing their students to do in regards to their mental health,” Cronin said.

Alexandra DeBus, a junior biochemistry major who is running against Cronin for student body president with United Maryland, focused on the importance of student well-being and said that she wants to work with the Campus Pantry to address food insecurity if she is elected president.

Aspire Maryland’s other executive candidates — vice presidential candidate Meghana Kotraiah and financial affairs vice presidential candidate Nitya Shah — and United Maryland’s other executive candidates — vice presidential candidate Reese Artero and financial affairs vice presidential candidate Ryan Saunderson — also participated in the debate.

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If Artero could implement on initiative on campus regardless of budget constraints, she would create a sexual assault prevention team within the SGA that works with student organizations like Preventing Sexual Assault. Aspire Maryland’s Kotraiah said she would want to increase student input in the tuition review process. 

Both presidential candidates also outlined ways they would address diversity, equity and inclusion issues at this university.

“I think it starts with elevating the voices of students instead of speaking for them” DeBus said. 

DeBus hopes to expand this university’s kosher dining plan and help create a Middle Eastern and North African cultural center on campus.

Cronin said he would look to promote ways for students with different backgrounds to speak up for what they think needs to change through involvement with the SGA

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Cronin also discussed ways to reach out to students and community partners to achieve this university’s goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2025.

DeBus also emphasized the SGA should advocate for sustainability initiatives with university administration.

Throughout the debate, DeBus also highlighted the need for the SGA to improve its student outreach. It’s important for the SGA to build strong relationships with students, rather than expecting them to approach their representatives, DeBus said.

Cronin added that he would also want to establish relationships with student groups and organizations to strengthen the SGA if elected.

“SGA’s ceiling is so high. We are nowhere near it right now,” Cronin said. “We can raise that ceiling even higher.”