SGA presidential debate recap

The presidential and vice presidential candidates gave students a glimpse into their platforms. Photo by Jada Gangazha. 


On Feb. 28, the annual Student Government Association (SGA) presidential debate was presented by the SGA Election Oversight Commission (EOC) in Atherton Union’s Reilly Room. Members of the Butler community gathered in person and over Instagram live stream to watch the debate between the presidential and vice presidential candidates from the two presidential tickets

Sydney Haworth and Gracie Walls are running against Sadia Khatri and Rai Singh for the president and vice president roles, respectively, for the 2024-25 school year. The candidates began campaigning on Feb. 24. The election will be on March 5 beginning at 8 a.m. and concluding at 8 p.m.. An email will be sent out to eligible students with a link to the voting ballot. 

The debate began with two-minute-long opening statements from the presidential candidates and one-minute-long opening statements from the vice presidential candidates. This was followed by four pre-released questions that the candidates could prepare in advance, two questions from the EOC and four anonymous student questions. Finally, each set of candidates was given two minutes to present a closing statement. 


Haworth and Walls 

To start off, presidential candidate Sydney Haworth, a sophomore speech, language and hearing sciences major, spoke about the three pillars of the Haworth-Walls campaign. The three pillars are transparency, passion and results. Haworth shared her and Walls’s plans to create an SGA guide that would highlight the budget and give insight to what each member of SGA does, implement hammock areas around campus, create outdoor classrooms and partner with more local businesses to create more uses for Out on the Town Dollars. 

Her running mate, sophomore biology major Gracie Walls, spoke about her current positions as the university life committee chair and class of 2026 senator in the legislative branch of SGA and how passionate she is about serving the student body. She shared about her accomplishments as a senator, including a new ice machine outside of Plum Market and an Americans with Disabilities Act-approved accessible ramp for the Reilly Room stage. 

“Sydney and I have the same ambition for this organization and the student body, and that is to make it feel more unity compared to hierarchy,” Walls said. “Everything we work towards should be and will be for the student body, heard from voices within the student body.” 

Khatri and Singh 

Junior healthcare and business major Sadia Khatri talked about how the Khatri-Singh campaign prioritizes authenticity and connectivity. She said that they recognize the disconnect between students and SGA and hope to make SGA a more accessible resource for all students. She explained that the campaign aims to promote unification and connection within the student body and how they want to be advocates for every student. Khatri also touched on the fact that both she and Singh have leadership experience. 

“We stand together in solidarity with the student body as we embark on this journey of representing you all in the most authentic of ways,” Khatri said. “Our mission is focused on furthering campus integration through cultivating a culture on campus where students are able to foster deep and genuine connections.” 

Vice president candidate and junior public health major Rai Singh used his one minute to speak further on the mission of clarity and connectivity that he and Khatri hope to bring to SGA. He emphasized that they want to create an inclusive environment where every student can be heard and feel included. 


  • What makes your platform unique from the other presidential ticket on the stage or previous student government presidencies? 
  • In your own words, what are the roles and responsibilities of the vice president? How would you make the role of vice president your own? 
  • What is an achievable goal that your ticket has that will benefit the student body? How will you work to achieve this goal and communicate your progress to the students? 
  • Given the upcoming national presidential elections, political divisiveness is becoming more apparent. How do you plan to unify students and keep the Student Government Association non-political? 

Haworth and Walls 

For the first question, Haworth discussed how she plans to implement initiatives and promises as soon as possible, which she feels has not happened in years past. She also spoke about her past SGA experience, which includes being the executive secretary for the 2022-23 school year and the appropriations committee chair within the legislative branch for the 2023-24 school year. She says that this experience has helped her see what works and does not work within SGA to support the students. 

“I would like for students that are supporting and voting for us to see the physical changes that they have voted for be put into action during their time here at Butler University,” Haworth said. “This will start to build the relationship between SGA leaders and students, as well as increase trust in our ability to execute initiatives.” 

For the second question, Walls first gave a definition of the vice president role. She then described how her main goal as vice president was to make sure that all of the campus clubs understand funding and where they can get money from outside of SGA. 

“The financial aspect of SGA is most often misunderstood and results in a lot of unnecessary backlash from the organization,” Walls said. “I want to alleviate these ideas because I believe it will strengthen our relationship with many student representatives and organizations.” 

For the third question, Walls further explained the SGA guide mentioned in Haworth’s opening statement. She explained that it will include an overview of SGA, an explanation of the different positions and their election processes, an overview of voting protocols and an overview of meeting schedules. Walls recognized that there is confusion surrounding what SGA can and cannot do and expressed that she hopes an SGA guide can alleviate that.

For the fourth question, Haworth talked about her plans to minimize politics being brought into SGA. First, she plans to fill her cabinet with students from many different backgrounds to ensure all voices are heard. Secondly, she intends to focus on the training of the speaker of the senate to handle harmful political statements to ensure the safety of campus organizations and senators as they express their opinions. 

“The community integration I wish to create is inclusive and compassionate, and we believe that all political opinions and ideologies should be welcomed in SGA,” Haworth said. “However, we will not tolerate any kind of harmful or belittling language.” 

Khatri and Singh 

For the first question, Khatri explained how her and Singh’s extensive background in not only SGA, but other campus leadership positions helps them stand out. She also touched on how willing she is to hear criticism and suggestions to help SGA operate the way the student body wants. 

“We want to be your voice, and through my running mate and I’s extensive leadership experiences both within and outside of SGA, we are confident that we can provide you with the leadership that you deserve,” Khatri said. 

For the second question, Singh said that the vice president role is to assist the president, promote student engagement and focus on organizational management within SGA. His goals for the role are to streamline the budget, be a support person for anybody interested in SGA and emphasize office hours. He stated that he believes his job as vice president is to maintain the internal structure of SGA, while also maintaining a relationship with the student body.

For the third question, Singh talked about the Khatri-Singh campaign’s plans to implement SGA-based town halls, specifically, at the end of the fall semester. These town halls would give students an opportunity to express their comments and concerns face-to-face rather than over a Google Form. 

“With town halls, myself and my running mate will be held accountable to stick with our promises to provide clarity, integration and positive change,” Singh said. “Town halls would be an effective method to engage with our students and allow us to speak on any concerns from academics to athletics.” 

For the fourth question, Khatri explained that while political divisiveness is a concern, the Khatri-Singh campaign is focused on unity and genuine advocacy for students. She said that political divisiveness is a symptom of lack of direction within leadership. 

“Our platform does recognize that tensions and risks exist between student government and the general student body, but we aim to repair those relationships,” Khatri said. “As a platform, our goal is to promote progress through every student.” 


  • How will you work with the school or campus administration, faculty and staff to advance the interests and wellbeing of the students? 
  • How do you handle criticism or feedback, both positive and negative? And how do you use it to improve yourself and your performance? 

Haworth and Walls 

For the first question, Haworth started off by giving props to current SGA President Katie Stanley for bringing back Flip the Script, which is an event that allows faculty and board of trustee members to interact with students. She hopes to implement more outreach programs to build rapport between students and faculty. 

For the second question, Walls spoke about her plans to send out multiple feedback forms throughout the semester. She said that a big part of the outreach programs that they want to implement is student feedback. 

“Sydney and I have preached that our campaign is based on ‘for the students by the students,’” Walls said. “So criticism is inevitable. It’s bound to happen. It’s bound to become positive or negative, and it is our job to listen to those concerns, and take them seriously and act on them as your executive branch.” 

Khatri and Singh 

For the first question, Khatri spoke about her and Singh’s previous leadership experience and how that has shown them the need for communication within leadership. She explained that leadership fails when communication is lost and promised to prioritize communication. She promised to take student concerns seriously and work with faculty when needed.

For the second question, Singh emphasized that he and Khatri encourage comments and criticisms from students. He also further discussed the SGA town halls they want to implement. He said that a town hall would promote communication between SGA and the student body. 

“We are putting ourselves in front of the student body, and we’re opening to tell us whatever it is that they want,” Singh said. “I believe that any natural born leader needs to handle criticism and needs to implement a way to convert critiques into action.” 


  • In order to efficiently lead as an SGA president and vice president, one must have a firm understanding of the organization’s bylaws and constitution. Have you read these documents, and if so, do you see any area for improvement? 
  • What experiences during your time at Butler do you think qualified you for this position? 
  • How do you plan to promote transparency to the student body regarding the operations and activity of the Student Government Association? 
  • The nature of a presidential race is inherently about who can do better. To contrast that, what do you admire about the opposing presidential ticket? 

Haworth and Walls 

For the first question, Haworth said that she has read the bylaws, but admits that they are very long and confusing. She then brought up her plan of creating an SGA guide to clear up any confusion in the student body. 

“I think that is why one of the biggest projects me and Gracie have committed ourselves to is the SGA guide,” Haworth said. “We can say, ‘Hey, this is what was originally written, and here is all you need to know about it.’” 

For the second question, Walls spoke about her experience as a resident assistant (RA) and a Morton-Finney Diversity Scholar. She explained that being an RA has given her the opportunity to gain leadership experience all day, every day, and that being a Morton-Finney Diversity Scholar has helped her see the diversity on campus that other people might not get to experience. 

For the third question, Haworth explained that things change throughout the year and she plans to host outreach events and meet with students and student leaders when changes are made. She emphasized that she thinks the most effective way to relay information is in person. 

“We can post things, but making that personal connection is really what’s going to be the game changer to have the students feel comfortable coming to us,” Haworth said. 

For the fourth question, Haworth spoke about her admiration for Khatri and Singh, and how involved they are on campus. 

Khatri and Singh 

For the first question, Khatri explains that one of her goals is to make sure students understand the bylaws and when changes are made that the student body is made aware. She said that one of the most recent updates to the bylaws has to do with grants, and it caused a lot of confusion for students, and SGA should take full responsibility for it. 

“I am a senator, so I know when these things happen, but not every student on this campus is involved [in SGA],” Khatri said. “I think that it’s very important that we implement a structure where students know what’s happening with bylaws, especially when it relates to resolutions that will be passed that regard student concerns, student grants and student organizations.” 

For the second question, Singh spoke about being president of Students of Color Allied in Healthcare, being vice president of Business in Healthcare Club and being a Morton-Finney Diversity Scholar. He said that these positions have shaped how he has communicated with peers and taught him how to be an effective leader. 

“I believe that with my extensive experience with leadership positions, as well as my just desire to connect with everybody on campus, I believe that I can share some of the tips that I have in being a student leader, as well as make thoughtful connections with the student body,” Singh said. 

For the third question, Khatri emphasized that transparency is a huge part of the Khatri-Singh campaign. She spoke about plans to have required meetings with the treasurers or presidents of the clubs on campus to discuss the guidelines and details surrounding grants. 

“Sometimes we do need to sit down with the students and provide them with the resources that they need,” Khatri said. “In addition to this, I would love to further utilize our social media platform to ensure that students are seeing and knowing what’s happening on this campus, especially regarding SGA.” 

For the fourth question, Khatri spoke about how she knows Halls because they are both Morton-Finney Diversity Scholars, and she knows Haworth through SGA. She said she admires Halls’ ability to connect with people and admires Haworth’s kindness. 


Haworth and Walls 

Haworth gave the Haworth-Walls campaign closing statement. She said that she hoped the students trust that they would promote inclusivity, follow through on their promises and that their leadership positions have adequately prepared them for this role. She explained that she wants to see students and student organizations succeed and can help them do so through the three pillars of transparency, passion and results. She assured the audience that she and Walls are prepared to take on the responsibility the position comes with. 

“We have collected the knowledge needed to perform with the best of our abilities,” Haworth said. “We care so deeply about each and every student organization and are cheering them on to pursue their missions.” 

Khatri and Singh 

Singh gave the Khatri-Singh campaign’s closing statement. He spoke about how he personally has found a home within SGA and leadership, in general. He said that neither him nor Khatri would be the leaders they are today without the resources the campus and SGA has provided them with. He asked that the student body consider their values and experiences and promised to represent and advocate for all students. 

“We urge you to consider the change and progress that the Khatri-Singh campaign can bring together through expertise and assistance,” Singh said. “This campus is ready for change. The question remains: are we all ready to embrace it?” 


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