Yesterday, in one last campaign effort before Temple Student Government elections began, all four tickets—Take TU, Empower TU, Believe in TU, and Owl Opportunity—participated in a heated debate in Room 200C of the Student Center.
Students had the opportunity to write and submit questions to specific tickets before the debate, which touched on topics of TSG’s role and structure at the university, community relations, student resources, the possibility of an on-campus stadium, inclusiveness and safety.
It was a marked difference from the previous debate on March 15. Yesterday, candidates were allowed rebuttals if another team mentioned them or their platforms, which produced more lively and critical responses.
Issues which caused particular disagreement among candidates included gender-neutral housing, alumni engagement and the role of TU Alerts.
At the previous debate on March 15, Believe in TU presidential candidate John Jasionowicz mentioned the idea for an LGBTQIA Living Learning Community when asked how to make housing more gender-inclusive.
Gaelen McCartney, the debate moderator and TSG’s elections commissioner, asked Owl Opportunity and Take TU about what further steps they would take on inclusivity.
Titus Knox, the candidate for vice president of services for Owl Opportunity, said creating an LLC was not the answer, instead suggesting gender-inclusive apartment-style housing that would allow students to interact with each other.
“It’s important that safe spaces are built for marginalized groups,” Knox said. “But at what point does building safe spaces like an LLC limit the educational process that comes with coming to college and people interacting with people not like them?”
Jared Dobkin, Take TU’s candidate for vice president of services, said the ticket would push for an LGBTQIA resource center, if elected.
“Right now, everything is kind of shoved into the Wellness Resource Center and Tuttleman Counseling [Services],” he said, adding that these resources are already understaffed.
When answering a question on a perceived lack of TU Alerts, several candidates envisioned expanding on their current role. Some said alerts should address on-campus, student-on-student crime and make sure community members are not specifically targeted in suspect descriptors.
“Students shouldn’t be picking and choosing what is or isn’t an alert,” Jasionowicz said in a rebuttal to the question.
Administrators in charge of campus safety have stressed that the alerts are only sent out if there is an imminent threat to the student body, Empower TU presidential candidate Aron Cowen said, and contended that alerts are not meant to function as a news service.
Knox proposed allowing the community to sign up for TU Alerts and double-checking with international students to make sure they’re signed up with the phone number they use in the U.S.
Take TU expressed that TU Alerts cause tension with the community and “don’t address student predators,” presidential candidate Tina Ngo said.
On the idea of restructuring TSG, Empower TU and Believe in TU disagreed on whether involving more students in TSG would allow for better student representation, like in Empower TU’s 40-member parliament plan.
While it will take about four weeks to organize and induct 40 new members, Cowen said, it will get everyone on the same page and involve more of the student body.
“Optimally, we’d have everyone in the room, but that’s not feasible,” he said.
Jasionowicz contended that even with the added members, there’s no way the new structure would be completely representative of the student body and the adjustment period “isn’t worth it.”
McCartney closed the debate, asking each ticket what they hoped to have accomplished after a year in office. Believe in TU, Empower TU, Owl Opportunity and Take TU each answered in respective order: representing students, student engagement, accomplishing small wins and stopping progression on the proposed on-campus stadium.
Following the debate, all tickets expressed their desire for higher voter turnout—hoping for around 30 percent of the student body. Each candidate expressed hope that students will not just vote, but review the platforms and make an informed decision.
Joe Brandt and Paige Gross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.
CORRECTION: In a version of this story that ran in print March 29, “Believe in TU” was incorrectly called “Believe in Temple” in the story’s first graf. The Temple News regrets the error.