TSG hosts debate for 2023 executive campaigns

The election between Innovate TU and Empower Owls will be held March 28-29.

Candidates from Empower Owls and Innovate TU debated at the TSG Presidential Debate Wednesday night. | GRACE RUFALO / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Empower Owls and Innovate TU, the two campaigns competing for Temple Student Government’s executive leadership, faced off in a one-hour debate Wednesday night at the Howard Gittis Student Center. 

About 40 students attended the in-person debate, which was hosted by TSG’s Election Committee and moderated by The Temple News. The event was also livestreamed on TSG’s Instagram. Students heard both campaigns discuss several topics like communication, campus safety, sustainability and resource management.

TSG will hold its election on March 28-29 online, and results will be announced March 30. The inauguration will be held on May 1.

Here’s what was discussed at the debate.


When asked about creating a more informed Temple community, both teams advocated for increased communication from administration and TSG in addition to a more diversified student government that is more representative of Temple’s student body. 

“There’s not a lot of communication,” said Eryal Szyszko, presidential candidate of Innovate TU. “It shouldn’t be us talking to you guys, we should be listening, we should be sitting around a table having a conversation about where our university is going, and that’s what we would like to do if elected.”

Innovate TU will push for a bi-monthly student organization roundtable that would allow representatives from student groups to voice their opinions and needs, according to their website.

Empower Owls has proposed implementing issue-based town halls aimed at strengthening communication between students and TSG, according to their policy packet

“We want to help create a model of Temple University that works with diverse identities that the community reflects and to make Temple University work for everyone,” said Rohan Khadka, presidential candidate of Empower Owls.

Campus Safety

As safety has become a major concern for students, both campaigns covered their safety policies extensively at the debate. Empower Owls and Innovate TU will both advocate to reform TUAlerts by increasing its transparency and effectiveness.

“We think that we need to be alert about more crime that’s happening on campus to be more cautious and aware of your surroundings,” said Lauren Jacob, vice presidential candidate for Empower Owls. “Not to be scared, but for students to be informed about what’s going on because I believe that they have the right to.”

Empower Owls will push for a new FLIGHT system that reduces wait times and provides accurate time estimations between stops. The campaign will also advocate for increased lighting both on and off campus, according to their policy packet.

Innovate TU has proposed a newsletter to provide updated information on crime trends, previous crimes and any incidents that involve Greek Life, according to their website

“You shouldn’t have to dig for crime statistics to know if you’re safe walking to class, to know if you’re safe going on this block or this block or that block or whatever route you take home,” said Ray Epstein, vice presidential candidate for Innovate TU. “You should have that information in your hand and we want to summarize it for you with crime statistics, how they’re trending upwards or downwards for the month, what assaults were reported in that month, and more.”


Both campaigns said they will advocate for improved sustainability at Temple. 

To promote a cleaner environment, Innovate TU’s platform advocates for pet waste stations both on and off campus.

If elected, Empower Owls will oppose single-use plastic materials in Temple’s dining halls and push for free SEPTA transportation for students and improved move-out coordination to reduce waste in local neighborhoods, according to their policy packet.

Resource Management

When asked their plans to implement campus resources, Empower Owls and Innovate TU both addressed concerns regarding the availability of services regarding mental health and counseling.

Khadka believes that the most pressing issue is a lack of education around sexual assault within Temple’s student body. To help prevent sexual assault, Empower Owls’ platform will advocate for sexual assault education as part of first-year orientations. 

“And that’s by having informed administrators, having informed professors, having informed professionals come into these spaces and be like, ‘This is what this is, this is what sexual assault it, this is how you react to it, this is how you help somebody.’”

If elected, Innovate TU will provide a map of campus resources, like Cherry Pantry and Tuttleman Counseling Services, to freshmen. They will also push for an Advocate Team of trained professionals to support victims of sexual assault, according to their website. The campaign would also advocate for trauma informed faculty workshops where staff members would be trained on mental health and different types of trauma. 

“I started this whole process when I was going through my own Title IX case, and I couldn’t get the support I needed,” Szyszko said. “And I felt like my voice wasn’t being heard, and I don’t want anyone else to feel like that way.”

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