Annual ASG Presidential, Vice Presidential Debate held remotely


Provided by ASG

Candidates gathered via video conference to host the ASG Presidential and Vice Presidential Debate.

Editor’s Note: Bree Gray, ’23, is listed as a candidate in the upcoming ASG presidential election as well as named in the story below. Gray is separately a News Editor for The Campus. The Campus does not endorse any candidate for ASG president or vice president, and Gray did not contribute to the reporting or editing of this story. 


Noah Tart, ’22, with running mate Sophie Adams, ’22, faced off against Bree Gray, ’23, with running mate Bennett Westfall, ’23, to assert their platforms before next week’s student government elections. 

The annual Allegheny Student Government Presidential and Vice Presidential Debate was held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, via Zoom. The debate was moderated by Provost and Dean of the College Ron Cole, ’87, and was open to all members of the campus community. Questions were submitted prior to the start of the debate, and each platform was given four minutes to respond to questions following their initial opening remarks. 

The Gray and Westfall ticket delivered their opening statements first. Gray, the current Director of Communications and Press, spoke about her previous experiences on various committees, including the Major Events Committee, Community Relations and Title IX. 

Westfall, the Director of Organizational Development, has previously served as a senator, and on committees including the Rules Committee, Dining Committee and WiFi Committee. 

Tart began his opening statement by emphasizing hope and unity, and explaining the Tart/Adams platform. Their four goals include transparency, fiscal responsibility, raising standards inside and outside of the classroom and building community. 

The first question was, “Over the past year, the administration has made a number of important decisions regarding student life on and off-campus. How will you ensure that the administration is transparent with the student body in the future?”

Tart indicated that his platform is centered around transparency. He said that students need to be a part of the over 20 student committees so that decisions are made with student input. If elected, Tart and Adams will introduce a transparency bill to make college financial documents and meeting minutes more accessible to students.

“Transparency and freedom of information lead to a larger knowledge of how our college functions,” Tart said. 

Adams elaborated, stating that she would like to see more administrators utilize open office hours, like Cole’s weekly office hours. 

Gray noted that she believes the administration has been largely inaccessible over the past year. 

“Transparency is something that Bennett and I care deeply about,” Gray said.

Among the Gray/Westfall ideas include creating a State of the Union to discuss ASG’s progress and give monthly updates to follow up on their action plan. 

“The relationship between the student body and the administration is, to say the least, tense,” Westfall said. “There are concerns that students’ voices often go unheard and that the administration can be unresponsive.”

The next question was, “How will you ensure that the entirety of the student body is properly represented, specifically organizations, clubs and student demographics that traditionally have been overlooked or underrepresented?”

Gray acknowledged that ASG is perceived as a predominantly white organization and that she would implement mandatory cultural competency and anti-bias training sessions for all members of ASG. She would also introduce a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination. 

Tart stated that 30% of Allegheny students are Black, Indigenous or People of Color. He explained that he wants to expand the resources available to the Culture, Identity and Leadership Coalition organizations, as well as make the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Social Justice Center more prominent in the Henderson Campus Center.

“Currently the IDEAS Center resides in the top-most corner of the campus center,” Tart said. “(It’s) in a very dark, backlit corner. That’s wrong … These are some of the most socially active organizations. It’s imperative that we celebrate and advance these organizations. … It’s the responsibility of ASG to better crystalize the student opinion and reflect how the student demographic is.”

The next question was, “COVID-19 has had a specific, negative impact on the mental health of college-aged adults. What are your plans to improve mental health on campus during and after COVID times?”

Tart indicated that, according to the American Psychological Association, two out of five college students have anxiety, one out of three are depressed and that 80% of students are struggling overall. He said that he wants to expand mental health resources and create policies and procedures to reduce stress from the pandemic.

“Noah and I have had several conversations checking in with each other,” Adams said. “So often, we have this drive to keep going and going, and at no point do we sit down and check-in with ourselves.” 

Adams emphasized that students should reach out for help at the Counseling and Personal Development Center and that they do not need to be in a crisis to do so.

Gray said that mental health is a priority of her platform. She wants to create “Stop the Stigma” events to promote mental health resources and work with the CPDC to make it a more visible resource on campus. 

“(These events will ensure) our students don’t feel as though they’re not broken enough or feel as though they’re not worthy enough to go to counseling,” Gray said. “One of the biggest issues our students face is feeling as though their issues aren’t pertinent enough to be brought to a counselor.” 

The next question asked the candidates how they would plan with the administration in the event that COVID-19 extends into the fall semester. 

Gray stated that she is planning a “Return to Normalcy Plan.” This includes safely reinstating in-person general assemblies. 

Westfall elaborated that he wants to see more on-campus social events to ensure students’ morale and physical and mental health. 

Adams said that she would want ASG to be a larger part of conversations with the administration for any semester plans so that students can work for a safe reopening. 

“Regardless of COVID, we still have to work with the administration,” Tart said. “ASG is the body of the students … we’re going to have to work in tandem to solve universal problems. … In order to get a withdrawal from a relationship, you need to make a deposit.”

One of the final questions posed asked each candidate to discuss an internal ASG issue they would like to see resolved.

Gray said that she would like to see more student participation, especially students serving as senators and on committees. She wants students to feel comfortable participating in ASG and attending general assemblies. 

The Tart and Adams platform agreed.

“Every committee has room for students,” Adams said. 

During her closing remarks, Gray emphasized her commitment to improving collaboration between ASG and the administration. 

“Let us focus on embracing the administration and collaborating with the administration, rather than having unproductive conversations,” Gray said. 

Adams said that she wants to see a broad coalition of students influencing future decisions and that the Tart/Adams administration will take into account constructive student criticisms. 

“The ability to take criticism in stride is needed to build a productive relationship while also being able to feed off of each other’s ideas,” Adams said.

The ASG Presidential and Vice Presidential elections will be held from Monday, March 15 to Wednesday, March 17 on WebAdvisor. The debate is available on Allegheny College’s YouTube channel.