The Temple News, Temple Update and WHIP Radio held a virtual forum via Zoom and streamed on Facebook with BloomTU, the Temple Student Government executive campaign, on Monday.
Quinn Litsinger, BloomTU’s presidential candidate, Mark Rey, BloomTU’s candidate for vice president of services and Larice Mejia, BloomTU’s candidate for vice president of external affairs discussed how they will strengthen relationships with the community, engage students in Parliament and TSG, and about their plans for what they will accomplish on campus during the school year.
Victoria Lucas, a general assignment reporter for Temple Update, Colin Evans, The Temple News’ news editor and Amelia Winger, the WHIP Radio’s news director moderated the debate.
The forum was originally planned as a debate between BloomTU and ListenTU, another executive team ticket. ListenTU suspended their campaign on Sunday in light of alleged ethical violations by TSG which they claim gave BloomTU an advantage, The Temple News reported.
Here’s how the forum played out:
FAIR ELECTIONS PROCESS
In light of ListenTU’s allegations of unethical behavior by TSG members, The Temple News asked whether BloomTU thought TSG was biased toward their campaign and if there was a fair elections process
Mejia said TSG was not biased toward BloomTU and that they did not have any advantage.
“We had the same amount of contact with the elections commissioner with the people that are in TSG and the administration,” said Mejia, who is a junior human resource management major.
However, Mejia said that BloomTU understands the allegations.
“We understand that they felt there was a lack of integrity,” Mejia said.
Rey said that while the university has smoothly transitioned to online learning, Temple should have been more transparent with its students about its plans for graduation, the new grading system and partial refunds of university fees.
“I think the conversations can be held a little bit more transparent so that students know how those conversations are going as well as what they can kind of expect for the future, even if they don’t come to a decision at the forefront,” said Rey, who is a junior public health major.
Lucas asked how BloomTU candidates ensured that they reached all students with their campaign after learning moved online.
Mejia said that while they would have prefered to reach people by word of mouth, they were able to reach people over social media.
“The way that we still were able to reach students is obviously through our social media through our Twitter, we tried to be present on all social media platforms that people may have,” Mejia said.
STRENGTHENING RELATIONSHIP WITH TEMPLE AND COMMUNITY
BloomTU plans on collaborating with community organizations to co-host events on Temple’s campus, Mejia said.
“There’s already Philadelphia-based communities that are made to like to serve the Philadelphia community and their specific ones in North Philly,” Mejia said. “We think that if we collaborate with these organizations, maybe co-host programs on campus that we can invite community members to.”
BloomTU would like to work with Project HOME, a nonprofit focused on homelessness in Philadelphia by connecting people with subsidized housing, health services and education opportunities and with the North Philly Project, a nonprofit which provides residents with education resources, recreation resources and mentorship programs.
While the current TSG administration has held events open to community members, like a group fitness activity event in Pearson and McGonigle Halls they held in November, few community residents attended. Winger asked how BloomTU plans to increase attendance from community residents.
In order to get community residents to come to the events they need to establish a relationship with community members by having them attend town halls or other events, Mejia said.
“Getting them to attend town halls or different programs that we do host where they can advocate for how they feel and tell the university the things that are important to them,” Mejia said.
Mejia also pointed out that BloomTU disagrees with Temple’s proposed on-campus stadium. The stadium could cause rents to increase and there to be noise pollution from construction, Mejia said.
“We’re anti-stadium, and we think this is a way to strengthen the relationship with the community because if you listen to the community members, this is not something that they are for,” Mejia said.
BloomTU plans on advocating against the proposed stadium by conducting a survey which would ask students’ opinion on the stadium and creating a formal proposal to present to the administration about this, Mejia added. This survey would be a second version of a student poll a previous TSG administration took about whether they supported the construction of the on-campus stadium in 2018.
RESPONSE TO VIDEO OF TEMPLE STUDENTS SAYING RACIAL SLURS
Last week, a video of a Temple student using racial slurs surfaced online and gained attention on Twitter.
After she mentioned the video, Lucas asked the candidates how they will address racism and discrimination within the student body.
“We don’t accept racism, any type of hate speech, anything that would really make anybody feel less than,” Mejia said.
BloomTU would advocate for victims of hate speech and encourage the university administration to be more transparent about what they do as a consequence of hate speech, Mejia said.
“It’s not the first time that this has happened on campus,” Mejia said. “A lot of times as students we hear from administration, ‘Oh, we don’t tolerate this. This is something we don’t accept action will be taken,’ but we’re never informed as to what.”
RELATIONSHIP WITH WOAR
Evans asked BloomTU about how they would improve their relationship Women Organized Against Rape, an organization that fights sexual violence by connecting survivors with treatment services and prevention education programs.
Mejia and Rey said they would make students aware of the resources at WOAR. BloomTU would probably launch a social media campaign about WOAR’s resources, Mejia said.
They would include WOAR in Sexual Assault Prevention Week, Mejia added.
“We actually spoke to a Temple student who interns with [WOAR] who stated that the best way to build our relationship this time educating students on their resources,” Rey said.
ON-CAMPUS POLLING PLACE
BloomTU has vowed to work for an on-campus polling place for students.
Jonathan Atiencia, a Parliament Representative for Disability Resources and Services, submitted a question, asking whether the proposed polling place will be accessible to students with physical disabilities and if it will be created by the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Litsinger said he is optimistic about the polling places being available by the end of the 2020-21 academic year. Litsinger has spoken with Phil Smith, the director of Student Activities, Chris Carey, the associate dean of students, about the polling place, he said.
City commissioners and the Office of Government Affairs and Civic Engagement told Litsinger that there are still requirements the campus needs to investigate and look into for the polling place, he said.
“But if we meet those requirements, we should be able to establish a location on Temple’s campus,” Litsinger said.
Students may vote by going to uvote.temple.edu. Elections end at 11:59 P.M. on Wednesday.