The second and final debate for Temple Student Government executive office elections took place just a few short hours before polls opened at midnight Tuesday.
Unlike the first debate of the election season, there were no judges present from the Parliamentary Debate Team to score the tickets’ responses and to declare a winner.
The debate, which took place in the Student Center atrium, was delayed a few minutes due to technical difficulties but soon started with an unexpected guest.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Brendan Boyle was welcomed to speak about the REACH Scholarship that he and Rep. Tony Payton are promoting.
The REACH Scholarship mirrors other states’ programs that attempt to make college education affordable, and, in some cases, free.
After Boyle finished, Elections Commissioner LaCole Foots, who acted as moderator once more, outlined the debate’s three sections: platform-specific questions, student questions (gathered by the commission) and audience questions.
TU 360, represented by presidential candidate Jamira Burley and vice president of services candidate Mark Fabbi, was asked how the ticket would engage commuter students, a campaign initiative, when most students leave immediately after class. They introduced their ideas for “fireside chats” and their hopes of making commuters aware of campus happenings.
BreakThru TU, represented by presidential candidate Natalie Ramos-Castillo and vice president of external affairs candidate Damon Williams, was asked how the ticket envisioned its student bill of rights.
Ramos-Castillo explained that many students don’t know their own rights, citing a peer who was asked to write a paper which went against her Muslim beliefs, and that her ticket’s plans are to make sure students are aware of their rights.
Owls United, which had all three candidates present for the debate – presidential candidate Malcolm Kenyatta, vice president of services candidate Maggie Thompson and vice president of external affairs candidate Chanee Lay – was asked how it planned on improving the advising process.
Kenyatta said that the hiring of new advisers for next year would improve the advising process.
When TU 360 was asked what school pride the ticket wanted to promote apart from pride in athletics, a rather unexpected occurrence took place.
After responding, Fabbi stood up and began the university’s Fight Song, which sparked involvement from the crowd and even Foots.
Like many times prior to this debate, the candidates were asked how they planned to make students aware of TSG.
Ramos-Castillo explained that her ticket plans to use the tools her campaign is currently taking advantage of, such as videos, t-shirts, and fliers, as well as “cutting-edge” marketing tactics, like color schemes.
When a question asked the tickets how they would improve the transfer orientation process, TU 360 responded with personal experience.
Fabbi, who came to Temple as a transfer student, explained that transfer students move in without other students around and miss the preparation that incoming freshmen receive.
Ramos-Castillo said that she hopes to have the members from each school’s council show transfer students around campus.
Kenyatta responded, “We need to look at revamping the whole thing.”
Thompson added to her running-mate’s response by saying that TSG can help find the niche of people that students want to be with, something her ticket plans on reiterating.
Another student question asked the tickets how they planned to help promote the arts on campus.
Kenyatta explained that although the recession is real, there is no reason why a Temple student shouldn’t attend a show because of affordability.
BreakThru TU’s candidates said that they plan to raffle tickets at State of the Campus addresses, as well as promote art events at TSG events.
Burley cited people’s hard work in preparing for art events and said that TU 360 plans to work with public relations students and organizations such as Main Campus Programming Board to promote this work.
Soon after, another student asked how the tickets plan to approach the “two on, two off” policy, referring to the two-year guaranteed housing for students.
Williams referred to his ticket’s idea for an off-campus housing Web site that would include features such as a roommate finder and rate-my-landlord.
“Students are thrown into the housing process and not given an opportunity to express their concerns,” Burley said, explaining that her ticket will voice student input to the administration.
One comment suggested that meal plans should be applicable for trucks and other food choices on campus, in addition from the Student Center food court and the Johnson and Hardwick cafeteria.
While BreakThru TU and Owls United both explained that this could not happen because of a contract with Sodexo, TU 360 said this is a possibility if students are prepared to voice their opinions when this contract ends.
Burley said, “Even though we have a contract with Sodexo, doesn’t mean we can’t have a voice when that contract is up.”
An audience member later asked the presidential candidates of their previously established connections with administration.
Kenyatta said that his position in the Residence Hall Association and Thompson’s position as a tour guide are two of the connections they plan to work with.
Ramos-Castillo said she recently met President Ann Weaver Hart and plans to use her current connections with people such as TSG Adviser Gina D’Annunzio in the future.
Burley responded, “I don’t want to name drop because I don’t think it’s important.”
One of the final questions asked if the tickets would continue to push for their platform ideas regardless of winning the election, and the three tickets all agreed that they didn’t plan on leaving TSG.
At the conclusion, Foots allowed the tickets one minute each to state why they the students should vote for them.
“We have a lot of people we want to break through to … we’re three different people from three diverse backgrounds,” Williams said.
Kenyatta said, “You want people whose entire focus is about you … I’m a believer, you’re a believer.”
“I’m tired of people saying they give a damn about my concerns,” Burley concluded. “Too many people are too quick to give you false promises and bulls–t; be an informed voter.”
Angelo Fichera can be reached at email@example.com.