What you need to know from the first 2018-19 TSG debate

IgniteTU (left), VoiceTU (center) and UniteTU sit in front of students at the first debate of the 2018-19 Temple Student Government elections in the Student Center on Thursday. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

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.

Kelly Brennan
Assistant News Editor

Evan Easterling
Sports Editor

Gillian McGoldrick
News Editor

Grace Shallow
Managing Editor

Michaela Winberg
Editor-in-Chief

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.

THE STADIUM

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.”

UniteTU on the stadium's funding

Danny Borine (president, UniteTU): There has been absolutely no transparency with the process from the administration. Until we can see the plans, until we can see where this funding is coming from1 to make sure that one — it’s not coming from our tuition. We’re not going to have to pay more, and that it’s not going to affect taxes in the community. … Once that conversation is open2, and we bring the community into that discussion, then they can propose a plan. 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 community3.
KELLY BRENNAN 1: The stadium will be funded through private donations, bonds from the state and money that would have otherwise been spent to rent Lincoln Financial Field. The university has set a $50 million fundraising goal.

2: The university said it has met with community residents and community leaders about the proposed on-campus stadium for nearly two years. Earlier this month. President Richard Englert held his first public forum about the stadium that was cut short due to anti-stadium protester disruption.

3: Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke opposed the university’s current stadium plans earlier this month. His spokesperson told The Temple News that Clarke will not support “any City approvals for the stadium,” which Temple needs in order to build the stadium.

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.”

IgniteTU calls out the Philadelphia Eagles for its price tag on Lincoln Financial Field

Gadi Zimmerman (president, IgniteTU): Why is our first instinct to deploy a stadium on-campus, as opposed to actually talking to Lincoln Financial Field? [The Eagles] say they are all about activism, but they are still charging us millions of dollars.
KELLY BRENNAN The Eagles charged Temple $1 million to rent the Linc. The 2018-22 contract would charge Temple $3 million to rent the facility and Temple would spend more than $2 million in game-day expenses.

The university could have net savings of $2 to $3 million a year if it were to build an on-campus facility to host home football games.

The Eagles and Temple have not commented on their negotiations for a future lease.

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.

VoiceTU's plans for the Board of Trustees

Almas Ayaz (vice president of services, VoiceTU): I think one of the biggest ways of making sure that students’ concerns and voices are heard is through the representation of Temple Student Government [with a seat on the Board of Trustees]1. … I think one of the first ways we do that as well is by making sure all students across the Board are using their voices and feel like Temple Student Government is hearing those voices and relaying those voices to the Board of Trustees. …

Gillian McGoldrick (moderator, The Temple News): And that would be through your seat on the Board of Trustees?

Almas Ayaz (vice president of services, VoiceTU): Right, so that would go into making sure that we that voting seat because it doesn’t matter if we use our voices if we don’t have a voting seat.

Tyler Lum (president, VoiceTU): As of right now, we already do have a student liaison on the Board of Trustees2. It’s our president, and I think it’s important to note that because I don’t think changing a title or deviating that responsibility is necessarily going to change the response that students are going to have.

GRACE SHALLOW 1: Activate TU had the same goal listed on its platform during last year’s elections. No seat representing Temple Student Government has been established on the Board.

2: Lum is likely responding to IgniteTU’s platform, which states the candidates’ would like to create a student liaison position to coordinate with the Board.

IgniteTU’s Gadi Zimmerman later clarified in the debate that the student liaison would appear in addition to the Student-Body President at Board meetings.

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.

UniteTU doesn't believe a vote with the Board would make a difference

Danny Borine (president, UniteTU): As far as one vote on the Board of Trustees, I personally do not believe it is as effective as it’s being made out to be. There are a lot of votes that go around. One vote will not make a huge difference to these individuals on the Board of Trustees that have the power. By bringing up the entire student body, that is how you can get the power. The voice of everybody is where the student lies, not just with one voting seat.
GILLIAN MCGOLDRICK The Board often votes unanimously and without discussion during public sessions. Discussion really happens during committee meetings and executive sessions, which are not always open to the public.

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.

Read more about recovery housing at Temple and on other college campuses

Trenton Reardon (vice president of services, IgniteTU): We want to implement recovery housing and follow through on Parliament’s initiative for recovery housing. We saw that works with Penn State and this thing called ROAR housing, where they provide students with activities, groups that they can be a part of. They have a stable support system which is really important when you’re recovering from substance abuse.
MICHAELA WINBERG Both Penn State and Drexel University offer recovery housing options specifically for people who have addiction.
Tyler Lum (president, VoiceTU): I do want to acknowledge George Basile1 and his work on recovery housing on campus. He’s been working all year long to make sure that it happens next year or within the next two years2, I believe he was talking about. So I just wanted to acknowledge that there is work on campus that’s already happening to make this happen.
MICHAELA WINBERG 1: In March 2017, Parliament junior class representative George Basile proposed a bill for on-campus recovery housing. Parliament unanimously passed the resolution, intending to explore recovery housing as an option.

2: This is an oversimplification. In September 2017, Basile told The Temple News he hoped to raise $100,000 to fund the initiative, but there was no official agreement on behalf of the university or defined timeline for implementation.

Trenton Reardon (vice president of services, IgniteTU): We’d have to advocate for it from the Board of Trustees. That would obviously take place from our student liaison, and the entire TSG membership would go and do whatever they could to try to advocate for the funding, because it is really important to try to get housing for students trying to recover from substance abuse. It’s imperative that we realize that the only way that we could get the funding is if we come together as one.
MICHAELA WINBERG After an audience member asked Ignite TU how it would fund recovery housing, Reardon responded that it would have to come from the Board of Trustees.This is not necessarily true. Basile told The Temple News in September 2017 that he planned to secure funding outside the university before approaching university officials.

Basile also announced on Twitter Thursday evening that he will advocate for recovery housing with the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition to state officials in Harrisburg.

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.

VoiceTU's stance on 'Think About It'

Tyler Lum (president, VoiceTU): So we have the program “Think About It” at the beginning of the year for freshmen. It’s a fantastic program because it teaches students and is mandatory for all students. But there’s no tangible takeaway from it. When students finish it, they get a certificate.
EVAN EASTERLING The Wellness Resource Center coordinates the administration of the “Think About It” online course, which is required for all students. The course discusses how to approach a friend in an unhealthy relationship and how to spot and respond to alcohol poisoning.

Almas Ayaz, VoiceTU’s candidate for vice president of services, said the campaign is also looking into creating a space for assault survivors.

VoiceTU supports creating a designated space for crisis support

Almas Ayaz (vice president of services, VoiceTU): So looking into how we can make these spaces, whether that’s using Paley1 or using the lot of Peabody2 whatever they’re going to construct in that space, mixing it with either academic spaces or spaces for students to lounge in so whoever walks in that building (moderator interjects because time limit exceeded)
EVAN EASTERLING 1: Paley can’t be used because the Board approved the College of Public Health’s expansion into Paley Library on March 13.

2: Peabody Residence Hall, built in 1957, has been demolished. The university hasn’t decided how to use the land, but it hopes to make a decision by the summer so it can begin construction

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.”

PARLIAMENT

All three campaigns agreed Parliament needs reform.

What each team said about Parliament

Danny Borine (president, UniteTU): “This year the elections committee had a very difficult time getting numbers to come out for Parliament elections. That’s a problem because Parliament cannot function unless it is full…At the beginning of the year there was…a number of people that tried to impeach each other on Parliament…There’s no way we can uplift the rest of the university if we’re fighting with each other…We plan on driving in voter turnout by increasing awareness, reaching out to student orgs. that, ‘Hey, if you want to see changes to allocations, come to this meeting, come and run for Parliament.’”

Bridget Warlea (vice president of external affairs, VoiceTU): “Parliament is a body, currently there are 28 members, including myself. And yes we have had some internal conflicts, however, we have already addressed those conflicts…Parliament has done some great work. I’m very proud of the people that I’ve worked with, and these people are very passionate. So in the executive branch I would just expand communications for Parliament. Give them their own communications team so that they can get their voice out…And I would also just empower them to work better with the directors so that TSG can work better together as a whole.”

Cameron Kaczor (vice presidential of external affairs, IgniteTU): “So we believe that giving Parliament the tools to succeed will amplify all voices and will encourage them to rise to the occasion. We need to get to the root of the problem and currently we believe that that is because they feel disrespected and that they don’t have enough independence. We will give Parliament autonomy by sharing the budget with the Executive Branch and Parliament to make sure that their initiatives can be carried out…We will also let Parliament write and approve their own set of bylaws so they can get this independence that they deserve. We will also reform the impeachment process and require more substantial articles of evidence for articles of impeachment, and we will remove the role of Parliamentarian and refine the role of Speaker.”

Bridget Warlea in rebuttal to Cameron Kaczor: “After the second semester began, we did reform the impeachment process…I did secure Parliament’s first budget last semester and we already edited our bylaws at least two times since we have been functioning. And then also as Speaker, I don’t think that getting rid of the Parliamentarian would work because the Parliamentarian checks the role of the Speaker…The Parliamentarian does the job of auditor general for Parliament.

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.

Alyssa Biederman
can be reached at alyssa.biederman@temple.edu Or you can follow Alyssa on Twitter @BiedermanAlyssa Follow The Temple News @TheTempleNews

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