Activate TU and Connecting TU, the two teams running for Temple Student Government’s executive branch, held their first debate on Thursday evening in the Student Center.
The debate moderated by Temple Update’s anchor Taggart Houck and news editor for The Temple News Julie Christie, asked questions on topics like additions to TSG’s executive board, TSG’s relationship with new food service provider Aramark and support for survivors of sexual assault.
Activate TU called for mobilization within the student body and an increased interaction with the North Philadelphia community.
Dalia Al-Bataineh, vice presidential candidate of services on the Connecting TU ticket, said Connecting TU will primarily focus on responding to student needs both on and off campus.
Connecting TU’s platform advocates for a better use of facilities on Temple’s campus. Leaders said they want to make sure empty classrooms could be available for student use and could be easily reserved.
Both teams wanted to increase awareness of resources for sexual assault survivors. Activate TU’s camp said students want a resource center for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence separate from Tuttleman Counseling Services, which suffers from understaffing.
Connecting TU proposed increasing awareness of Women Organized Against Rape, which just opened a satellite office on campus.
The two teams engaged twice in an extended discussion on the addition of an ethics board to TSG and the university’s proposed on-campus stadium.
Ari Abramson, presidential candidate on Connecting TU’s ticket, questioned the timing of the ethics branch’s creation since TSG’s latest initiative of Parliament is still “rocky.”
“It’s unreasonable to create an ethics board when there’s only been 3 percent turnout for Parliament voting and they’ve extended the application deadline twice,” he said.
Activate TU maintained that Parliament’s concerns about accountability and independence would be addressed by the creation of the ethics board.
While Activate TU opposes the proposed on-campus football stadium in their platform, Connecting TU did not wish to take a definitive stance, citing concerns about division within the student body.
“There are voices that are pro-stadium, and there are voices that are against the stadium in our student body,” Al-Bataineh said. “We don’t feel that it is appropriate to take one side of this discussion, because that alienates another side of our student body.”
Connecting TU also called for more transparency in the process of deciding to build a stadium, saying the administration hasn’t released any information in months.
“There is a legal precedent to make sure that [the community] will benefit from the stadium and the university has not done that in a legal way,” said Paige Hill, vice presidential candidate of external affairs on the Activate TU ticket. “If there was, we would revisit it, but since there is no legal contract, we will oppose it.”
The candidates agreed that Temple Police’s Walking Escort program needs improvement, but disagreed on its alternatives.
Connecting TU proposed a smartphone app similar to the LiveSafe app University of Southern California’s safety services uses. Activate TU said a smartphone-based option was not inclusive for students who do not have smartphones.
After the debate, Abramson told The Temple News his team will continue meeting with organizations to “sell their platform.”
“[We will] continue to work hard and … make sure students understand that all these ideas are feasible,” he said.
Activate TU plans to leverage their experience as members of TSG’s current administration during their campaign.
“Our current roles … have given us insight on what needs to be fixed, what needs to be reformed, what can be improved and what is missing,” said Tyrell Mann-Barnes, presidential candidate for Activate TU. “I think that the only thing that would make us add more is going and talking to students and realizing they feel their voices are not heard.
The next debate, moderated by elections commissioner Noah Goff, will be held Monday, April 3 at 5:00 p.m. in room 200C of the Student Center.