Despite social distancing and a move to campus-wide online courses, UA Little Rock’s annual Student Government Association (SGA) elections opened Thursday through students’ Blackboard accounts.
While previous elections have featured multiple candidates vying for the presidency, the SGA’s 2020 presidential election candidates are running unopposed: sophomore presidential candidate Landon DeKay and junior vice-presidential candidate Molly Edwards.
DeKay is no stranger to student government. A native of Marche, Ark., DeKay attended Maumelle High School and served as their student body president in his senior year. He also served as a member of various student organizations including the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and the Distributive Education Clubs of America.
After enrolling at UA Little Rock in the Fall of 2018, DeKay joined the SGA.
“I knew that I eventually wanted to run for an executive position,” he said. “So I spent most of my freshman and sophomore year learning as much as I could about the university and its leadership.”
Over his first two years at UA Little Rock, DeKay has served in various capacities in multiple student organizations. Among the multiple organizations, he’s the Delta Chi Fraternity Recruitment, Philanthropy and Scholarship Chair, a Middle Eastern Studies program assistant, President Pro-Tempore of the SGA, member of the Chancellor’s Retention Committee and a Chancellor’s Leadership Corps Scholar.
For DeKay, the allure of running for leadership of the SGA is to give back to his campus.
“This university and its staff members, professors and administrators have given me so much that will positively impact my future,” he said. “College really is what you make of it. I want students to prosper while attending UA Little Rock.”
Edwards has had a similar path as DeKay. From Magnet Cove, Ark., Edwards graduated as Magnet Grove High School’s Class and Student Body President in 2017. Through her high school years, she served in multiple student organizations and competed in softball, track and basketball.
In Fall 2017, after arriving at UA Little Rock, Edwards got involved on campus.
“I wanted to be as involved as possible and I take every opportunity I can to make myself a better leader,” she said. “I got involved in clubs whenever I got to UA Little Rock, but [I] was eager to become involved in SGA.”
In her three years at UA Little Rock, Edwards has held multiple positions in campus organizations. She was the Chi Omega Sorority’s Campus Activities Director in 2018 and their New Member Educator in 2019. She currently serves as president of the Political Science Club and as an SGA senator for the College of Social Sciences and Communication. She’s also a Chancellor’s Leadership Corps Scholar.
Edwards said the decision to run for vice president of SGA is a credit to the impact the association has had on her.
“I have gained a better understanding of what UA Little Rock is as an institution and how big of an impact students can make on it,” she said. “After serving as a senator for a year, I knew running for Vice President was the next step.”
DeKay and Edwards have multiple initiatives they’re running on which focus on improving campus life and beauty, improving communication and helping to expose barriers which impact students with disabilities. They both said their experiences on the SGA has shown them that students’ opinions and perspectives are frequently ignored.
“While serving on the SGA, I have noticed that student perspectives and ideas tend to be pushed to the side,” DeKay said. “Likewise, communication is rather lackluster, which, in turn, limits the university’s full potential.”
Edwards spoke similarly and said student ideas must be heard.
“In order for our university to reach its higher potential, I want to do everything in my power to have student voices heard in all aspects,” she said.
While neither of them would like to backtrack on any initiatives in recent SGA administrations, they would like to create a grant program to fund the creation of murals across campus. They would also like to improve campus communication by having regular contact with other student organizations and the administration, as well as make the SGA more accessible to students.
They would also like to continue to work to address the absence of the university’s Trojan Transit. Senators passed a bill this spring to donate a golf cart to the Disability Resource Center, but DeKay and Edwards said more work is needed.
“If we pride ourselves on being the most ‘diverse’ university in Arkansas, we must help all students succeed,” DeKay said.
DeKay and Edwards point to their previous experience as one of the reasons students should vote for them.
“Students at UA Little Rock need someone who wants to represent them and make sure their concerns are heard and taken care of,” Edwards said. “I have leadership experience in multiple organizations on campus, so this has been something I have always cared about.”
DeKay says UA Little Rock’s current position requires careful decision-making.
“UA Little Rock is in a crucial period in which every decision will inevitably impact its future,” DeKay said. “After serving on the SGA as a senator for the College of Social Sciences and Communication and as President Pro-Tempore, I know that we can make a positive, lasting change on this institution.”
Voting is currently open via Blackboard and will close May 3 with the winners being announced May 4.