The first debate of the 2018-19 Temple Student Government elections season was held Thursday night in the Student Center.
The three teams — IgniteTU, UniteTU and VoiceTU — discussed their stances on various university issues like the proposed on-campus stadium, the Board of Trustees, Parliament, substance use among students and on-campus sexual assault.
Members of The Temple News’ staff transcribed portions of the debate and annotated it for context and accuracy.
The three teams unanimously oppose Temple’s current plans for an on-campus stadium, which has been marked by controversy since the university began pursuing the facility in 2015.
Voice TU’s Presidential candidate Tyler Lum said his ticket is “hardcore anti-stadium.”
“If one day the stadium is something that would benefit [the community] then yes, that’s a conversation we’re willing to be at the table for,” Lum said. “As of right now, we’re just going to stand by the side of the community.”
VoiceTU said it will oppose the stadium by advocating for a voting seat on the Board of Trustees — a solution that was criticized by UniteTU later on in the debate.
UniteTU’s presidential candidate Danny Borine said the team will oppose the on-campus stadium until the university is transparent about the project, specifically its funding. The team is concerned stadium funding will come from tuition or community taxes; but, Temple has said the project would be entirely funded by outside donors, state support and money that would have financed renting Lincoln Financial Field.
“Once that conversation is open, and we bring the community into that discussion, then they can propose a plan,” Borine said. “Until there is input from all of the student body and community, there is no feasible way for the stadium to exist in the North Philadelphia community.”
IgniteTU’s presidential candidate Gadi Zimmerman said the team would implement monthly community forums to hear from North Philadelphia residents and called for transparency between the Philadelphia Eagles and the university.
“Why is our first instinct to deploy a stadium on campus, as opposed to actually talking to Lincoln Financial Field?” he said. “[The Eagles] say they are all about activism, but they are still charging us millions of dollars.”
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The current TSG administration has acted as a voice for students at Board of Trustees meetings through the student body president. The campaigns differ in their stances on representing the student body to the Board.
Trent Reardon, the vice president of services candidate for IgniteTU, said the team wants to create a “student liaison” position that would be appointed by the Executive Branch.
IgniteTU’s new position would exist in addition to the president’s role as a liaison, Reardon said.
“But they will not fall underneath the Executive Branch,” Reardon added. “They will fall under the Ethics Board so that way they serve as a direct link between the students and the Board of Trustees.”
VoiceTU said it will advocate for a voting seat on the Board. This has been on the platform of many past TSG campaigns, but no administration has been successful in obtaining such a seat.
UniteTU disagreed with VoiceTU’s desire for a voting seat on the Board, adding that one vote would not make a difference to the members of the Board.
SUBSTANCE USE RESOURCES
On-campus substance use was also discussed on Thursday. Each team talked about wanting to destigmatize substance use at Temple.
IgniteTU advocated for recovery housing options on campus.
Vice presidential candidate of external affairs Adrienne Hines said UniteTU would better advertise training on the use of Narcan — an opioid overdose antidote — which is already provided by the College of Public Health.
VoiceTU did not directly address the question about substance use, but instead spoke about creating resources for students in “crisis situations.”
VoiceTU advocated for an on-campus crisis center to help students with a variety of issues. But the team does not know what the center would look like as of now.
“Whether it’s a preventative program so people can drop in and check in with themselves in a safe environment or whether it’s training teachers and professors to notice problematic behavior and size of problems, I think it’s very important moving forward,” said Bridget Warlea, VoiceTU’s vice presidential candidate of external affairs and the current speaker of Parliament.
SEXUAL ASSAULT RESOURCES
Campaigns were also asked to comment on how they would help survivors of sexual assault — one of the current TSG administration’s major initiatives.
Borine said UniteTU would first combat sexual assault through prevention. The campaign said it would also create training sessions and expand sexual assault prevention education during incoming students’ orientation.
“A lot of cases go unreported,” Borine said. “That’s a shame because we’re not getting true statistics, and we’re not having those people held accountable for their actions.”
Lum said VoiceTU wants to have continuing education after students complete the “Think About It” online program, which educates students about sexual assault and drinking on college campuses.
Almas Ayaz, VoiceTU’s candidate for vice president of services, said the campaign is also looking into creating a space for assault survivors.
IgniteTU said it wants to promote the existing Sexual Assault Prevention Week, which was started by the current TSG administration, as well as provide resources for survivors in its proposed “crisis center.”
“More than anything, we just want to emphasize that we need to start by listening to survivors,” said Cameron Kaczor, the vice presidential candidate of external affairs of IgniteTU. “We need to listen to their concerns and their suggestions to fulfill their wants and their needs.”
All three campaigns agreed Parliament needs reform.
Borine said UniteTU will fix issues within Parliament by increasing awareness among students in hopes that more students will run for seats in TSG’s legislative branch.
Right now, only 28 seats are filled in Parliament, which is supposed to be a 36-person legislative body.
In November, several members of Parliament tried to impeach each other.
“There’s no way we can uplift the rest of the university if we’re fighting with each other,” Borine added.
IgniteTU has proposed several solutions to make Parliament more autonomous and efficient. Parliament does not currently have its own budget, making it difficult to carry out resolutions. The team would give Parliament the ability to share TSG’s budget with the Executive Branch in order to carry out its initiatives.
IgniteTU candidates also said they will reform the impeachment process and get rid of the role of Parliamentarian and expand the role of Speaker of Parliament.
However, VoiceTU’s Warlea expressed concerns with IgniteTU’s idea to get rid of Parliamentarian. She said as the current Speaker of Parliament, the Parliamentarian is needed to check the power of the Speaker.
She also said that she was able to “secure” a budget for Parliament this academic year. But Parliament’s bylaws have no information about a budget specifically for Parliament.
The second debate will take place April 2. Polls will be open April 4 and 5, and winners will be announced on April 6 at noon.
Jenny Roberts contributed transcribing.