Cohen: Can we believe either SGA candidates’ side on supporting WSU sports?


Brian Hayes

Hopeful SGA vice president Breck Towner and his running mate Paige Hungate answer questions from the audience at the SGA presidential debate in the CAC theater. Towner does not like pineapple on pizza.

During Friday’s Student Government Association presidential candidate debate, a student from the audience addressed the issue of student support not being given the same as men’s basketball. The student wrote on the card, “What plans do you have to resolve this issue?”

While both political organizations “Impact” and “United We Stand” answered the question at the CAC Theatre, it was difficult to be convinced how serious they are when it comes to this issue.

As the question first went to “United We Stand,” student vice presidential candidate Breck Towner mentioned that he helped get more student support at softball games. He stated that he was a part of the Interfraternity Council Fraternity recruiting committee where they started up the “Shocker Daddies,” a group of students that attended home games with enthusiasm and passion for WSU softball.

This idea was a phenomenal step in this process with great support from head coach Kristi Bredbenner and the softball team last season. The unfortunate thing is that the “Shocker Daddies” have been almost non-existent this season.

It was hard to spot them during the team’s first two home games against No. 9 Oklahoma on March 1 and against No. 12 LSU on March 16, with both games producing the two largest crowds at Wilkins Stadium. The next seven home games were during spring break, in which a minimal number of students attended.

Towner expressed that he wanted students like the “Shocker Daddies” to support the other programs and get SGA to help initiate that change. But if students can’t be consistent with showing up for more than a season, how can we expect this change to actually happen?

Student Body President candidate Paige Hungate said her goal is to increase awareness of other sports success, emphasizing that every home game is free for students and going provides “a great college experience.” “Impact,” however, was more specific on this concept.

Tracia Banuelos, “Impact”’ student body president candidate, expressed the importance of promoting other sports home events through Shocker Blast. Banuelos also recognized that some student-athletes are missing their college graduation due to competing in their sports’ event.

“Impact” wanted to reach out to WSU President John Bardo and his administration staff about having a separate graduation for those student-athletes, an idea that is not uncommon amongst other university campuses. Vice President candidate Patrick Oshakuade mentioned that other sports’ successes needed to be recognized before they accomplish something historic.

It is clear that both parties want better student support for all sports, but neither seems believable based on generic ideas. Nobody said what they would exactly do to resolve the issue and neither party stated they would lobby the athletic department to try to come up with ideas, but instead reaching out to student groups that support Shocker athletics.

Understandably, other issues are on campus that need more focus at the moment. But when the student support for athletic events is lacking, even for men’s basketball, it’s an issue that requires attention.

Friday’s debate was not a good indicator on either side on what was going to happen to resolve this issue. Nobody can force students to be supportive of athletics, but SGA has the ability to encourage students to support or better yet, take action by working with the athletic department to solve the issue.

No matter which party comes out victorious on Wednesday, it’s difficult to believe that any of the members will take initial action to help better support WSU’s student-athletes. I agree with both parties that the university needs more support from the student body, but I’m not convinced that either party will help solve the issue.