Written by Joe Adgie
Hostilities flared on Wednesday night during the SGA executive debates, but for the most part, not between the candidates.
The hostilities were caused by members of the crowd, who oftentimes asked combative and accusatory questions towards the candidates, specifically presidential candidates William Jimerson and Ryan Baerwalde.
“What gives you the right to take away my second-amendment right to bear arms?” one student asked towards Jimerson.
“I believe the responsibility of protecting students bears on campus police and campus security, and I believe this is a threat to campus security, where last year, in [Georgia Hall], we don’t know what happened to [Jasmine Benjamin],” Jimerson said. “I’ve dealt first-hand with students who are dealing with this tragedy today. I spoke with the mother, who’s dealing with this tragedy, today.”
The student, having returned to his seat, stood up, and tried to respond, but was stopped by DeMario Jones, former SGA president and debate moderator.
Another student took a shot at Baerwalde, wondering why he could be trusted.
“How can the student body trust you if you only reach out for support from the IFC and the CPC instead of all the Greek councils and the entire student body?” the student asked.
“Quite frankly, I’m almost offended that I’m being accused of only reaching out to IFC and CPC,” Baerwalde said. “If anyone paid attention to the past two years of my campaigns and elections, I do run on tickets with IFC, CPC, and NPHC members. I have friends all across campus on all sorts of Greek councils. To be accused of only looking to IFC and CPC for support and advice is absolutely deplorable.”
Another student attempted to tie a racist tweet to the Jimerson campaign.
“You say that you’re for unity, as SGA president, what would you do to stop support of yourself, who is blatantly racially insensitive and offensive, stating ‘Black exec board, black senators’,” asked a student towards Jimerson.
The tweet was not made by Jimerson or by anyone related to his campaign, but rather by recent VSU graduate Storm Richardson, who also tweeted that “I liked it better when the white folks just stayed outta SGA…call me what u want but I kno I ain’t the only one who’s thinking it”
Baerwalde and Jimerson both condemned that statement as well as the accusation that Jimerson was behind it.
“Me and Ryan have been in conversation via social media,” Jimerson said. “Ryan approached me regarding this tweet that you are referring to, and I have personally stated on Facebook that I do not endorse these statements, and I am asking my supporters to remain tactful in our campaign efforts.”
In the end, Jones addressed the crowd, asking them to come together.
“You need to bring this together,” Jones said. “The longer it continues to go, that it’s your fault, or it’s my fault, nobody’s gonna come to the center of the table and say ‘You know what? It is my fault, and let’s get this corrected.’”