UWF SGA welcomes new presidential and vice-presidential candidates


Hunter Morrison, Staff Writer

As the month of March approaches, elections for the University of West Florida’s Student Government Association are just around the corner. Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates Alby Clendennin and Katie Garratt hope to soon represent the UWF student body.

“We’re in this moment in the University community where we really need leaders to step forward and take charge of where the student community is at the moment,” said Clendennin. “I really want to put my face out there and put my spin on what this organization could be.” 

While contemplating a run for SGA President, Clendennin brought fresh ideas to the organization. Upon not being able to find a running mate, Garratt showed her interest in running alongside Clendennin. 

“I had wanted to be involved in SGA for a while, but I never really knew how to take that first step,” said Garratt. “When Alby was talking about running for president, I was like ‘this is it, this is the opportunity, the universe is telling me to go for it.’ I’m really excited that I have the possibility to make a really big impact on campus.”

Both Clendennin and Garratt have a wealth of experience that far surpasses involvement in SGA. 

Clendennin currently serves as a representative for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Resident Assistant for the Office of Housing and Residence Life, and Senator for SGA among other things. He has also served as a member of the UWF Film Club and President of UWF College Democrats. 

“I think the biggest thing that makes us stand out from opponents is that the positions we’ve held on campus aren’t primarily Student Government Association related,” said Clendennin. “My background is primarily within the Department of Undergraduate Admissions, Housing and Residence Life, and of course the different student organizations that I’ve served in before I came into being SGA Senator. I think what makes me stand out as a candidate is that I’ve been going about being a student leader, even though it hasn’t all been through SGA the last three years.”

Garratt, on the other hand, works as a Resident Assistant for Housing and Residence Life and is a member of the Student Environmental Action Society. She is also a member of the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and serves as a Legal Studies Recruitment Ambassador.

“I haven’t had any involvement in SGA, and I think that makes me unique because I can bring in a lot of perspectives from experiences I’ve had outside of the organization,” said Garratt. “In the last few years, SGA has been run by people who have been solely working within the organization, so I think it’s nice to see some people running who are going to bring some new ideas and concepts to the organization.” 

The Clendennin-Garratt campaign has three platform points they hope to deliver upon. These platform points are to impact, innovate, and include all students and avenues of campus life at UWF. Each platform point would consist of four initiatives. 

Among these initiatives, the Clendennin-Garratt administration would hope to address problems within the SGA. In recent years, there has been a decline in student involvement within the organization. 

“The biggest problem I want to tackle as the next student body president is to address what is wrong with [Student Government Association] to where students do not want to come forward to lead and represent their academic college,” said Clendennin. “We control over $3.2 million of student fees and funding that gets allocated to a wide variety of areas, so SGA members can impact the campus community in a really large way.”

Clendennin and Garratt hope to let students know that SGA is open to any student at UWF. 

“For a long time, SGA has seen a small exclusive group on campus, and I think Alby and I both share the same sentiment of wanting it to be more open so that people feel like they can join, participate and be apart of campus,” said Garratt. “It’s a really important organization, and I feel that there are some people who don’t even know about it and what they do on campus. If we are elected, I hope that we leave behind a legacy of opening up SGA and making it even better than it is right now. I think it has a lot of potential that hasn’t been tapped into yet.”

Other initiatives that the Clendennin-Garratt administration hope to accomplish if elected include introducing new scholarship opportunities through SGA, broadening mental health initiatives, advocating for night-time bus services on campus and partnering with Housing and Residence Life for the addition of an LGBTQ+ Living Learning Community in one of the residence halls on campus.

“If we were to be elected, more than anything I would hope that our administration would leave behind a legacy of taking on those big, bold challenges that appear seemingly impossible,” said Clendennin. “I think that’s what being an Argonaut has always been about, taking on those big, bold challenges and coming out the other end successful.”

Running for SGA President and Vice-President has been a learning experience for both Clendennin and Garratt. They both hope to improve UWF student life for generations to come.

“The number one thing I’ve learned from this campaign is that my fellow Argos are ready for some change,” said Clendennin. “I think it’s mostly stemming from this past year we’ve all had, and we’re all ready to make sure our voices are heard on the matters we care about. My fellow students want to make sure that the people that represent them are ready to take on the goliath.”

Student Government Association elections begin March 1 at 8 a.m. and will continue until March 3 at 8 p.m. You can vote on ArgoPulse by visiting https://uwf.presence.io/form/2021-sga-election.

For more information on Clendennin and Garratt’s run for office, visit https://linktr.ee/cg2021 or https://uwf.edu/academic-engagement-and-student-affairs/departments/student-government-association/elections-resources/president-and-vice-president-candidates/alby-clendennin-and-katie-garratt.html.