UPDATED on April 2 at 9:41 a.m.
BecomingTU and RiseTU faced off in the final debate of this year’s Temple Student Government election season on Monday. Students can vote for next year’s executive team on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The two-hour debate, moderated by The Temple News and Temple Update, covered issues like student representation on the Board of Trustees, sexual assault and the feasibility of points on both teams’ platforms.
The campaigns first debated on March 21 in a debate moderated by members of TSG’s Ethics Board, which asked no questions about on-campus sexual assault or mental health resources.
To reach more students, BecomingTU will expand TSG directors’ weekly office hours, with two hours in the office and two outside if it to visit student organizations, said Francesca Capozzi, BecomingTU’s presidential candidate at the debate.
“BecomingTU wants to encourage all students to be involved with Temple Student Government, whether that be taking director positions or just being informed about everything that’s going on,” Capozzi said.
BecomingTU also wants to implement a voting seat held by a non-TSG student on the Board of Trustees.
Capozzi said her team would work with local government to establish the position. Twelve of the 36 voting Board members are appointed by the state, but city officials are not involved in this process.
To address low student participation, RiseTU will offer mobile and digital office hours that create “an online suggestion box/query streamline” for students to reach out to TSG, according to its platform.
Later, Diamante Ortiz, RiseTU’s candidate for vice president of services, was asked about her stepping down as IgniteTU’s director of Campus Safety before campaigning began. In questions submitted to The Temple News, students wondered how they could trust she’ll remain committed if RiseTU is elected.
Ortiz’s earlier role in TSG had “certain points of inefficiency” that pushed her to campaign with RiseTU, she said.
“It is needed to be emphasized for students who are currently in student government roles to understand that there can be other conflicts of interest involved and the ethicality of that,” Ortiz said.
Unlike Ortiz, Kaya Jones, BecomingTU’s candidate for vice president of external affairs, remained in her role as IgniteTU’s deputy director of local and community affairs.
“I thought it was very important to carry on my position throughout my time of campaigning because I want to act as that representation of students,” Jones said. “I want to continue to build relationships with members of the community and continue to build relationships with our administration so that next year, I’m well prepared to handle my position and external affairs.”
FOOD AND HOUSING INSECURITY
Alex Rosenberg, RiseTU’s vice presidential candidate of external affairs, said he wants to educate students about their eligibility for two federal aid programs: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Individuals must meet income requirements to receive SNAP and LIHEAP benefits. The maximum gross monthly income for a household of one to receive SNAP benefits is $1,316, according to the state’s Department of Human Services. For LIHEAP, the 2018 maximum annual income for one person to receive benefits was $12,140.
BecomingTU said it would appoint a student director focused on food and housing insecurity. The ticket also wants to implement the “Temple Wardrobe,” which would be a university-wide closet for students to access free clothing, which would function similar to Cherry Pantry, Capozzi said. Several colleges at Temple already offers a similar resource.
It would allow students and community residents to donate and pick up clothes for general use or for professional attire for job interviews.
Capozzi and Rosenberg are both members of Greek life. Capozzi is a member of Temple’s chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon and Rosenberg is a member of the Pi Lambda Phi chapter at Temple. Both said they would be able to separate their experiences in Greek life from their roles in TSG’s executive campaign to represent all students.
Capozzi and Rosenberg want to hold Greek life accountable at Temple, they said. Rosenberg added that TSG should make strides to change what is the sometimes “toxic” and “masculine” culture of Greek life.
The university’s conversations about sexual assault need to focus more on preventing assault itself, not the role alcohol plays in Greek life, Banks said.
“The university blamed like alcohol for a few moments, and that was unacceptable,” Rosenberg said. “Rapists are rapists. Alcohol does not create rapists.”
The campaigns discussed how to best support survivors of sexual assault. BecomingTU said it wants to expand already existing resources, while RiseTU’s platform states it wants to partner with organizations outside of the university. Both said they would support a 24-hour, sexual assault reporting center on Main Campus.
Banks said BecomingTU would also appoint an intern to assist Andrea Seiss, the university’s Title IX coordinator, to “alleviate some of the stress that she has” dealing with cases. In its platform, BecomingTU also states it wants to implement mandatory Title IX training for student organizations into Student Training And Rewards System workshops.
RiseTU suggested bringing off-campus initiatives, like JDoe and the Callisto Project, to survivors. The Callisto Project is a third-party anonymous reporting system that partners with college campuses, and JDoe allows survivors to anonymously report incidents of sexual assault through a phone application.
Alexandra Gordon, RiseTU’s presidential candidate, also referenced expanding survivors’ access to rape kits, which are sexual assault forensic exams, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Health care professionals must be specially trained to conduct these tests, and the university’s ability to distribute kits would be limited.
“Having more localized resources, whether it is with police stations or some clinics that are around, is a step and working toward helping with sexual assault,” Gordon said. “It’s not going to be end-all, but it is a start.”
Trash remains an issue that affects community residents who live near Main Campus, The Temple News reported last week.
Capozzi had discussions with the Office of Sustainability and learned more about different ways to keep the community clean, she said, including a program where students ride on bikes and pick up trash.
“We believe that if we build a strong community or relationship and connection with our community, those cleanups won’t have to happen as much because of that courtesy and respect that will be built,” Capozzi said.
Students would be more aware of the community surrounding Main Campus through diversity trainings, Rosenberg said, and they need to be cognizant of the negative effects of terminology like “locals” sometimes used to describe members of the community.
BecomingTU said TUalerts should be expanded to community residents so they can be aware of dangerous situations near their homes.
RiseTU said this isn’t feasible, because it would slow down what is already a slow system.
BecomingTU said it has existing relationships with community residents, like Jackie Wiggins, a Stadium Stompers leader who lives on 20th Street near Diamond. Residents like Wiggins, Jones said, have already expressed interest in helping administer tours of the community to new students, one of BecomingTU’s platform points.
Jones said there is still campaigning left to do.
“It’s just begun,” she added. “We’re so excited to speak with students and have that face-to-face connection to inform them on both platforms and get them out to exercise their rights to vote.”
“I hope people are mobilized by the answers that we did have,” Gordon said. “The crowd seemed to be very interactive with a lot of things that we said, so hopefully people go out and vote RiseTU if they see that our platform is the best for Temple University.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated the candidates in a photo.