Student Government presidential, gubernatorial candidates speak on abortion, LGBT issues, recent ‘scandals’

College Democrats and the National Organization for Women held a panel for the candidates to talk about their platforms.


The presidential and governor candidates gathered in a room to answer College Democrats President Matthew Taudien’s questions about their platforms. Photo by Cameren Boatner

Cameren Boatner, Staff Writer

When it comes to free speech, some candidates in the upcoming Student Government elections say they understand they can’t change it. But they do want to limit the size of posters and regulate how loud protesters can yell.

FAU College Democrats and FAU’s National Organization for Women (NOW) held a panel for the student body president and Boca gubernatorial candidates to speak on their platforms Thursday evening. The candidates answered College Democrats President Matthew Taudien’s questions in front of the audience of 18 students.

Presidential candidates Kevin Buchanan, Neasha Prince, and Jonathan Marr, and governor candidates Elijah Colas, and Javier Bravo touched on topics like LGBTQ issues, SG controversies, and abortion protests on campus.

What will the candidates do about abortion protestors?

If Buchanan, SG’s current chief financial officer, is elected, he wants to implement a cell phone notification system to let students know where the protestors will be, and when, so they can choose to avoid them or counter-protest.

Celine Persaud, Buchanan’s VP candidate, said if they were elected, they would implement bills to limit the abortion protestors from bringing jumbotrons and big posters of aborted “fetuses” to campus.

“As the president and vice president we can make it harder for these people to come on campus by making bills,” Persaud said.

Prince says the best way to handle the protestors is to encourage the students to get involved themselves.

“I commend them for voicing their opinions and how they feel, but I want to backtrack and say we should take a stand and express how we feel,” Prince said.

Marr said the abortion protestors and homophobic preachers promote hate speech on campus.

“I personally think it’s quite traumatizing. The homophobic preacher told me I’m going to hell because I’m black and because I listen to rap music …That shouldn’t be allowed,” Marr said. As for the abortion protestors, he said, “I feel uncomfortable, and I’m not even a woman.”

“It is unacceptable that students on this campus feel harassed for being who they are, being a woman, being LGBT,” he continued. “That’s not free speech to me. That’s hate speech.”

Bravo also said the protests are having an adverse impact on the community.

All of the candidates seemed to agree the use of jumbotrons was “a little much,” in the words of Marr’s running mate and candidate for VP, House Rep. Kitana Thomas, who also serves as the Ways and Means chair in SG.

Colas, the current director of multicultural programming, said he thinks SG should be able to designate how large their demonstrations are, as well as how loud the protestors can yell.

When the floor was open for students to ask the candidates questions, Simone Stewart, a sociology major and the director of purchasing for NOW, asked Colas about previous comments he made on abortion, from a debate between the College Democrats and Young Conservatives. The question was related to his stance on abortion.

He replied: “There is a perspective that as a black community, we’re being invaded by Planned Parenthood. The poverty levels are so high that they’re saying ‘we can capitalize on this and we can kill their babies’… I find it very very suspicious that abortion clinics are in low-income areas.”

How do the candidates plan on helping the LGBTQ community?

“We should make certain communities such as the LGBT community feel safe. We should make certain communities feel welcome, such as the Muslim community. At the end of the day, we’re all students,” Marr said. “I’ve watched how they’ve been disenfranchised and neglected by programming and people who claim to be doing what they can for them, but they aren’t advocating for them.”

Bravo said he was all for bringing a Pride parade to FAU, and Prince agreed with him.

“Our LGBT community is misguided, underrepresented and underfunded … It’s time to bring back Pride fest, and implement some type of funding,” Prince said. “As a woman, I know what it means to be viewed for something I am not. It’s important to champion for those who feel less fortunate.”

Buchanan said the solution is simple: everyone should be treated equally.

“All of us here are students and we’re all here as an owl so we should all feel as represented and as heard as the next person,” he said.

House Rep. Gabby Miernik, and current president of the LGBTQ-friendly diaternity, Lambda Alpha Lambda, criticized Colas for speaking against the LGBT community in the past, alleging he called members of the community “those people.” She also refuted his claim that he had 400 organizations asking for money, saying the number was only 120. Because of this, he could’ve given Lambda United funding, she said.

“I’ve been called a homophobe, my fliers have been torn down on campus, and its subjected me to a lot of personal stress,” Colas said. He also felt compelled to point out he contributed a “significant amount of money” to the drag show. However, President of Lambda United Alex Bruens claimed on Twitter that multicultural programming did not work on the last annual drag show.

What will the candidates do to prevent SG “scandals and controversies?”

Taudien asked the candidates what they would do to prevent “scandals and controversies” in SG. One event that the candidates referred to was the attempted impeachment of Gov. Luke Turner last fall.

Prince wants to implement a “President’s Corner,” where students and SG members can come and voice their concerns directly to her if she’s elected. This way nothing “sleazy” can go on behind the scenes.

“The reason why I believe the scandals that transpired was the lack of accountability,” Prince said of the last administration.

Bravo said “Making sure we have a big media presence like the UP reporting on what we’re doing” will help maintain SG’s transparency.

Colas, who was at the forefront of Luke Turner’s attempted impeachment, said “I know scandal all too well.” He said it all comes down to interacting with the students and with other members in SG to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Colas, during the impeachment, was temporarily fired for “speaking out” against Turner.

Buchanan and Persaud want to send a newsletter to students about what is happening in SG to make SG more transparent.

Marr said he wants all SG members to be open and honest about their actions to prevent scandals.

“As far as the scandals, you need to be held accountable … be open, be honest, you don’t have any reason to hide,” he said. “I will never go in a negative direction or hurt or shame because that’s not what FAU is about.”

The SG elections will be held this upcoming Monday, Feb. 26 at midnight to Tuesday, Feb. 27 at 11:59 p.m. You can vote on Owl Central.

Cameren Boatner is a staff writer with University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].