Unless three eager students can form a slate in the next week, the potential winners of the upcoming election for Temple Student Government have already been decided.
This year, “Owl Potential” is only slate running in the TSG election. The team is comprised of Vice President of Student Affairs Juan Galeano, Allocations Chair Eric Stephenson and Alumni Affairs Chair Nadine Mompremier.
Galeano, now in his third year of involvement with TSG, will run for student body president, Stephenson will run for vice president of academic affairs and Mompremier will run for vice president of student affairs.
Voting for the election begins April 10, and at this point, a prospective second slate can only participate in the election as write-in candidates.
Owl Potential is scheduled to participate in an open forum Tuesday at noon in the Howard Gittis Student Center. A second open forum will be held April 9 at 4 p.m. in Walk Auditorium during general assembly.
The slate plans to make anti-apathy and community service major components of their platform.
“The Temple News” sat down with the Owl Potential team to talk about their platform, running unopposed, the current state of TSG and apathy among the student body.
The Temple News: What are the benefits for you to remain in TSG throughout your entire college career?
Juan Galeano: Student government offers a lot of opportunities to make your own vision become reality and slowly I’ve become more and more committed to it. I’ll find myself hanging out with my friends outside of school and just be thinking, ‘What can I do for TSG?’
TTN: Why do you think there is only one slate taking part in the election?
JG: I think there are a lot of reasons for that. I think that part of it is the fact that a lot of people knew that I was going to run, so a lot of people supported and knew how much we were able to do this year and knew that we were going to be able to do the job really well next year. I know a lot of student leaders that are capable of doing the job stepped aside so that we can step up and that’s even more pressure for us to perform because we have high expectations. I’m taking it as a challenge and I know both Nadine and Eric are very motivated as well.
Eric Stephenson: When we were forming our slate it was difficult to find student leaders that we thought could be effective in an executive position. It was a long process trying to find another candidate for our slate. A few people who were attempting to form another slate came to me and said, ‘It’s so hard to find student leaders who are willing to step up and run.’
TTN: What is the key issue that defines Owl Potential’s platform?
Nadine Mompremier: Our platform is Participation, Involvement, and Preparation. Participation: Getting students to participate not only in TSG, but also amongst other student organizations around the university. Preparation: Getting students ready for the real world. One of our main focuses is working with career development services and making them an important resource to students. Involvement: We want to take our passion and spread it to other student to get involved in the different programs, organizations, and in the university itself.
TTN: What are your thoughts on running unopposed this election?
JG: I was a little surprised. I thought there were going to be some more people running. I think part of the reason is the fact that a lot of people support and know how much we were able to do this year and know that we are going to be able to do the job really well next year. But I also think there’s another issue, which is apathy. We have a lot of students here and I’m trying to get them more involved, but there is a general apathy around the campus. I guess that’s a contributing factor to why there’s not another slate running against us.
NM: I was disappointed because I felt that there are so many students on the campus that are capable of accomplishing so much. I just want people to step up to the plate and know they can do this. But as far as the students seeing us as the future leaders of this university is an accomplishment in itself. We look at that as motivation to accomplish all of our goals next year.
ES: I was hoping that another slate would run against us. It really disappointed me that no one else decided to run. Since we are the only slate, we have an extra responsibility to get students involved. We have our thoughts on what we think we can fix on campus, but it would’ve been great to have another slate running because you can see other points of view. Ultimately, I think that we’re the best slate and I think that we’re the best for the job. But at the same time, through debates and campaigning, you can identify problems that you might have overlooked because the other slate could address certain issues that you might want to incorporate into your own agenda.
TTN: How do you feel about the prospect of a write-in candidate entering the race?
JG: You can never take anything for granted, and I understand that someone might enter the race and have amazing promotions and we could [be] side-swiped and … potentially lose the election.
TTN: What is your anti-apathy initiative?
JG: It’s part better preparation, part more information, and part more participation. We’re going to increase the awareness about local and global issues occurring in our society. There are so many interesting things that are gong on and we have a lot of faculty that would gladly come after school hours and talk with students. A lot of people aren’t interested because they aren’t engaged and we can create that engagement using different avenues. Increasing awareness and participation within and outside our university is paramount. We’re welcoming any ideas and it’s not an easy task, but it’s something we’re very committed to.
NM: If you can get one or two students in their freshmen year to get involved in organizations or issues, they’re going to tell their friends and their friend will say “I can do this too”. When students start to see other students become active, they start to question it and they want to know more about it. Those little steps we take to get students involved are going to have a greater impact in the future. We want students to know how we benefit them and in general how it benefits the world around them.
TTN: How concerned are you that student attendance at the open forums will be low?
ES: I want to promote the open forums and have people there but right now, I’m more concerned with the issues and building our platform. This could be a very positive situation for us because, as the only slate running, we can start working on the issues that we want to resolve right now. You can get more done in a year and half of a semester then you can in just one year. So, I’m not concerned with how many people attend the open forums. The people who do attend the open forums, those are the people who we want to target to be student leaders because it shows that they really care about the issues.
TTN: How do you plan to convince students to vote in this election?
ES: We should really go about this campaign in a different way. Instead of advertising ourselves initially, I think we should advertise the issues that we are going to address and resolve. If we are marketing the issues that we’re going to approach, students will then follow and, hopefully, get involved in resolving those issues.
TTN: How will you measure the success of your campaign this year?
NM: Our goal is basically to have more votes than last year. We’re going to campaign just like there was another slate running against us.
TTN: What are your thoughts on the current state of TSG?
ES: We’re very united. The committee chairs and members of the executive board all work together and we all have a common goal, which is to serve the student body.
NM: When I compare it to my freshman year, I didn’t even know that there was as student government, compared to a lot of freshmen that are getting involved now. They are taking active parts, coming to the general assembly, taking part in committees, and stepping up into leadership positions. That tells me how much the presence has increased, but there still is a lot to be looked at. As far as what we’ve accomplished already, I’ve never been so proud to be part of an organization. We want to be a continuation of the great job that’s been done so far.
JG: From the time I’ve been here, we’ve established amazingly strong relationships with administrators and the board of trustees and new ways that we can work together. But there’s still a lot of work we have to do with reaching out to students and increasing representation so all student voices are heard. We’ve brought students together from different backgrounds and there have been many strides in community relations. There’s been a lot of strides in [the] care [of] being a more visible force on campus, but for all of these things that I mentioned, there can always be more.
TTN: How will your TSG experience benefit you next year?
NM: As far as being in TSG, as soon as I came in I took a very active role. I joined the Diversity Affairs committee but I had established a relationship with a lot of the committee chairs. I was always very close with Juan and [TSG President] Raysean Hogan. Raysean basically fit into the mentorship role to me. If I had something to ask him, he was always there. I’ve really… used them as a step in my development. I was very impressed with how they came and … knew what they wanted to accomplish and that was more motivation for me. [The members of TSG]… helped build up my leadership skills. They made me think about if I were to do something, then how would I accomplish it. They really stretched my horizon with how far I can go.
JG: From being in TSG for so long, I was able to see how to manage student government and how to take on a leadership role. I watched everything and I picked up on a lot of things that could be improved upon or things I thought were strong. I also watched the leaders of the organization and picked up on how they manage things and I spent a lot of time in the TSG office with the leaders then and got a lot of advice and guidance on how to get myself and others more involved. I was really mentored by them. I gained experience dealing with the administration and students, managing committee chairs, and effective ways of managing the office.
ES: I’ve built relationships with every student organization through my work as the allocations chair. Student organizations know who I am. They know I have a hard work ethic and I’ll do what I can to help them out. Hopefully, that will prompt them to come to me with their ideas and their questions. Plus, I’ve worked a lot with administration, including the Office of Student Activities and the Finance Department. As the allocations chair, I sit on the University Fee committee, which discusses administrative and course fees.
TTN: Aside from your responsibility to the student body, do you feel that you have a responsibility for the community around Temple as well?
JG: We take community service very seriously. While we are students and we’re getting our education, we’re also part of North Philadelphia and everything that’s going on around here. We need to inspire some hope within people.
NM: There is a divide between North Philadelphia and Temple. That is more encouragement for me to … try to encourage more students to go out and make a difference in their community. I see that divide and I want to make a difference in it. North Philadelphia is capable of so much, and if we can help and take away the feeling of discomfort that comes with this area, then I think that will be an accomplishment in itself.
TTN: Why should students vote?
NM: I’ve always said that every vote counts whether there be one slate or five slates. By you voting, it basically says you care. That’s the first step in saying you want to make a difference at this school; that you want to make a difference in life. We want to be elected; we don’t want to be placed in a position. Those votes are important to you and they’re important to us. So when you vote and you say that you trust in us, you believe that we’re going to make a difference and listen to you.
JG: It comes down to whether you want to make Temple better or just want it to fall apart. Do you want to see more communication and … want your concerns to be voiced to people who really make the decisions on this campus, or are you content with just watching what’s happening around you? We’re here to be student representatives and we’re the people that talk to the administration all the time and if you don’t care enough to look at it, and you don’t even care enough to take a couple of seconds to vote, then what are you saying about what you want Temple to become? So think about that …when you’re making a decision on whether or not you take a couple of seconds out of your time to vote.
ES: I think we have a very good platform. We have qualified people on our slate and I think we’re going to have a great year if we’re elected. Students should come to the open forums and see what we’re about. If they’re completely against us, they could still form another slate, which I would love for someone to do.
Sam Benesby and Tyson McCloud can be reached at TempleNews@gmail.com. Malaika T. Carpenter contributed to this report.