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Candidates face tough questions from incumbent

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 01:02


William Warmke and his running mate Scott Sandoval, along with Taylor Lockwood and his running mate Ben Agosto, were put to the test, facing a tough line of questions during the second debate for student body president and vice president on Monday. 

The debate, which ran a half an hour over its scheduled time and took place in the Oval Theater in the Marshall Student Center on Monday, had a distinct contrast from last week’s Bulls Radio debate, which lasted 35 minutes. The event jumped from trivia questions to questions that challenged the candidates on their own platforms. 

Each round of the debate started with a “lightning round,” in which student body president Brian Goff, who moderated the debate, asked the candidates — all who are involved with Student Government (SG) — trivia questions relating to USF, including specific dollar amounts of certain student-paid fees and the names of members on various university-affiliated committees. 

While these lightning rounds resulted in answers of “I don’t know” or “What he said,” the audience of about 60 people spent the round laughing at the responses, and whispering comments such as “Why do these questions matter?”

But on other topics, the candidates appeared more comfortable. 

Many of the night’s questions — and responses from the candidates — focused on the candidates’ experience in Greek Life and their plans on improving aspects of Greek Life.

Goff also asked the candidates if they thought the hours the president and vice president spend in office are justified and if they would consider cutting the hours — along with the accompanying paycheck of $10.25 per hour for 39 hours a week. 

“We shouldn’t justify working overtime for financial reasons,” Agosto said. “We should work overtime to serve the students.”

Sandoval defended the paycheck, however.

He said he dedicates all his energy to his work to SG, even though as a graduate student he said could find a higher paying-job that requires his bachelor’s degree.

“I wouldn’t be okay with getting one-tenth of a pay cut,” Sandoval said. “Student Government requires me to dedicate a lot of time working, so I’m not able to have a part-time job so I feel that I should be paid for the amount of work and energy I put into the job.”

One of the questions that stirred up the most debate among the candidates was when Goff asked what rights the university neglected to grant students. 

Lockwood, Goff’s chief of staff, said the university can improve its class “drop” and attendance policies. He said the current policy is an attempt to have students graduate faster, but the university should “tweak it” instead of “limiting” students.

“It is our money,” Lockwood said. “If something comes up, and you want to drop a class — you paid for it, that’s the way we see it. It should be that you could drop that class ... I don’t need someone to be my parent and tell me to come to class. I paid for it out of my own pocket, not my parents, not the university… It’s my own decision to make.”

Warmke, a senator for the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, opposed, saying he supported the university’s current policy, saying “the university is just looking out for our best interest.”

Warmke also said he hoped to minimize the amount of paper used by SG to promote sustainability. Goff asked if Warmke understood if that included the Computer Lab. Warmke said he did. 

Lockwood and Agosto said they hoped to make printing on campus wireless. Goff asked if they understood printing was already wireless. Agosto said the two understood, but that the wireless services for students are not easily accessible. 

Christina Hughes, an USF alumnus who ran for student body president last year, said she went into the debate with an open mind but thought many of the responses were similar to each other and lacked “transparency.”

“I don’t think the candidates did the best job they could in presenting themselves as servants to the students,” Hughes said. “If you have selfless intentions, then it would show. People will know you’re here for us. But I didn’t really see that tonight.”

The candidates will continue campaigning until the elections, which will be held Feb. 25 – 28 online. 

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