USG Candidates take the stage, debates mental health on campus

Christian Danner, Reporter

Undergraduate Student Government candidates fought for their chance to represent the students of Kent State on Thursday in the Governance Chambers.

The nominees took the stage and answered several questions regarding their platforms, plans and hopes for their prospective positions.

Between the several students that were running unopposed for vacate senate seats, and the few that debated each other for directorial seats, a few issues seemed universal.

The youthful group of leaders continued to bring up mental health advocacy.

Junior political science major Erik Gomez was the one of the first to take the stage. Mental health advocacy was the first issue brought up by Gomez in his debate for student body president.

“I want to advocate for the well being of every student. I want to do that by implementing mental health days into the syllabus” Gomez said.

He proposed one or two days to be allotted for each student every semester to recharge.

Gomez wasn’t the only candidate to include mental health initiatives as a part of his platform.

Christabel Akhigbe, the sole candidate for the position of Senator for the Honors College, briefly touched on the struggles of mental health within the college.

“One of the main problems we have in the honors college tends to be interaction, mental health [and] community,” Akhigbe said. “Residents prefer to be in their room, on their own [or] on their computer.”

Social isolation can take a toll on students and young adults. Social isolation mixed with other issues that come along in college and can severely affect one’s mental health.

“A lot of first year students, and a lot of transfer students, go through an imposter syndrome where they feel like they don’t belong on campus,” said Mary Jewell, the sole candidate for the position of Senator for the College of Arts and Sciences.

This was not the first time that mental health initiatives were on center stage. During the 2020 election Dane Paris, a junior at the time, sought to change mental health resources at a university level.

Outside of mental health, much of the debate centered around the concept of community. Many of the candidates seek to either get the students that fall in their respective colleges to engage more, or they hope to build a community within their college.

The election will be held virtually on March 22 and 23 with the unofficial result being released on the 23.

Christian Danner is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]