Although the two slates for Temple Student Government held their fourth and final debate in front of the general assembly Monday, they are still continuing to campaign. Today and tomorrow, candidates from both slates will make their last-ditch efforts to persuade uninterested and undecided students to vote in their favor.
Ryan Feldman is the presidential candidate on the “Building Temple Tradition” slate. He is joined by vice president of academic affairs candidate Mawata Dunbar and vice president of student affairs candidate Paolo DeVito. Feldman said the undecided vote could be a critical factor in the race.
“I don’t think that either slate has a significant advantage at this point,” said Feldman, the current TSG treasurer.
Feldman said he feels the race “is very close” and one good or bad move by either slate has the potential to “sway the voting” in the other direction.
Raysean Hogan, the presidential candidate for “Owl Evolution,” is joined by vice president of academic affairs candidate Priya Patel and vice president of student affairs candidate Juan Galeano. Hogan said undecided voters are searching for specific characteristics in the candidates.
“They want someone who they feel comfortable with being their leader,” said Hogan, who is also president of Main Campus Program Board. “We want [to help] the undecided to make a decision.”
Both candidates said the minimal attendance at the first three debates was upsetting because they are the best way to learn about the slates and their agendas.
The first debate was held in front of a tiny crowd on the steps outside of 7-Eleven on Liacouras Walk. The second was a nighttime debate held in the social lounge of Johnson and Hardwick residence halls.
“Overall, it’s been disappointing because when people don’t attend the debates they tend to vote based on word of mouth and popularity,” Feldman said.
Hogan agreed and said he hopes that every student votes for a specific reason, not because of an affiliation to a candidate.
Yesterday’s debate was attended by a large audience, many of whom applauded for candidates after statements were made.
One of the hotly contested topics discussed at the debate was diversity. Galeano said there is “segregation between many groups” at Temple, adding that “Owl Evolution” would address this problem by establishing a multicultural student union. Feldman said a multicultural student union was unnecessary.
“The multicultural student union is very similar to the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which already exists and has a student services unit” he said. “We just need to promote that better and use it.”
When asked how his slate would improve campus safety, Feldman said he wanted to bring the 1-Trip taxi service back. Feldman said 1-Trip provided students with a safe alternative to walking on campus at night, adding that the service would benefit from not using student drivers as it had in the past.
Members of “Owl Evolution” disagreed with bringing 1-Trip back. Patel said the reason that 1-Trip was discontinued was because it was inefficient.
When discussing how to improve the experience of upperclassmen and commuter students, Feldman said student organizations should attempt to hold events earlier in the day before commuters leave campus.
Hogan strongly disagreed and said this was a “fundamental difference” between the two slates.
“I’m not coming up here telling any student organizations when they should have their events,” Hogan said. “I will not dictate to any student organizations on how to run your organizations.
At the end of the debate, Feldman was prevented from finishing his closing statement by moderator Patrice Whiting.
Feldman said he was disappointed. He added that it will not deter “Building Temple Tradition” from its goal.
Parliamentarian Alex Barbosa said he agreed with Whiting’s decision to cut Feldman’s statement short. Barbosa, who moderated the second debate, said there was a legitimate reason behind the action but said he was not qualified to disclose that reason. Whiting could not be reached for comment.
Hogan said he did not think “Building Temple Tradition” was put at a disadvantage. He said Feldman was not allowed to finish his statement because it was too long. “We were clear and concise in our answer,” Hogan said. “I think they were trying to fill time by talking about us.”
Hogan said he refused to be “bullied out of the election” after receiving e-mails telling him not to run and after a $200 “Owl Evolution” banner was stolen shortly after it was hung in the Student Center on April 1.
“It’s one of those things you have to accept and keep on moving …” Hogan said, adding that members of “Owl Evolution” paid an additional $200 to have the banner replaced.
Feldman denied that anyone directly involved with his slate took part in stealing the “Owl Evolution” banner. He said he told everyone in his slate from the beginning that engaging in any type of vandalism would be unacceptable.
“This election needs to be fair,” Feldman said. “It’s ‘may the best candidate win,’ not ‘may the sneakiest candidate win.'”
The same day that the “Owl Evolution” poster was stolen, Feldman said he learned of “Building Temple Tradition” signs being destroyed in several residence halls.
“We do as much as we can to go out and talk to people and promote our slate,” Feldman said.
Hogan said he had no prior knowledge of “Building Temple Tradition” campaign material being vandalized but he said he told members of his slate not to engage in any acts of vandalism. Both Feldman and Hogan said their respective slates spent a minimum of $800 on campaign materials and supplies.
Current Vice President of Student Affairs Cristina Ackas was impressed with both slates but said she is eager to hear how they will execute their plans.
“Both slates look very well-qualified,” Ackas said. “They all seem like they have a goal in mind and it’s just a matter of how they are going to go about reaching those goals that I haven’t gotten out of this debate.”
Election results will be announced Thursday.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at email@example.com.