Candidates speak briefly in student debate
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 01:02
In a stark contrast to last year’s debates, Wednesday’s debate between the two candidates running for student body president was brief — 35 minutes.
The debate, which took place at the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in the Marshall Student Center, was between Taylor Lockwood, a junior majoring in political science, and William Warmke, a senior majoring in political science, criminology and economics.
Bulls Radio moderator Cole Giering said he was “thoroughly impressed by the brevity of the answers.”
“They weren’t pulling any punches,” Giering said. “They knew it was supposed to show who they were as candidates and who they were as people.”
The event, scheduled to be an hour in length, was hosted by Student Government (SG) and Bulls Radio and had questions ranging from what the candidates valued to what Giering jokingly called the “most important question of the night:” where each candidate would take USF President Judy Genshaft on a date.
One of the questions asked was what USF is missing as a core value.
“USF has that bad stigma of being a commuter school,” Lockwood said. “We should give students more reasons to stay on campus… We need to give students a way to stay here and find their passion.”
Warmke said USF lacked the tradition of the University of Florida and Florida State University.
Giering also asked what the candidates would do to ensure that every student voice is heard.
Lockwood said he would create a petition website for students to use, similar to what the White House uses. Warmke suggested incorporating a public relations department of Student Government, to build relationships through “more than just an email.”
“We want to change the mindset in Student Government from a reactive body to a proactive body,” Warmke said.
The candidates also stressed the values important to them — Lockwood with integrity, ambition and courage, and Warmke with love, truth and honor.
One of the biggest responsibilities of the candidates, if elected, would be to oversee the more than $14 million budget of Activity and Service fees. Giering asked what specifically the candidates would incorporate in their plans for the budget.
“The biggest problem we have is, of the $14 million of A&S fees, $2.8 million is going to Student Government, $9.1 million to programs and services and only $700,000 going to student organizations,” Lockwood said. “The students are paying into this. They should be getting it directly back into the organizations.”
Warmke agreed, saying A&S fees should be spent more on students and that SG should increase documentation on spending and have the Activities and Service fee Recommendation Committee (ASRC) audit the spending of organizations more accurately.
Lauren Pickel, a junior majoring in business administration and international studies, said she knew both candidates personally but still felt like she learned a lot from the debate.
“I got to see them from a political stand point,” Pickel said. “I could really tell how much each wants the position and how much pride they have in the university.”
Pickel said the candidates spoke eloquently and weren’t hostile to each other as previous contenders were. However, she said she questioned the short answer responses.
“I feel they can work on the openness and transparency they mentioned,” Pickel said.
But the biggest disagreement between the candidates came in where each candidate would take Genshaft on a date if they could.
Warmke said Bern’s Steakhouse, and Lockwood said Tijuana Flats.
“I would definitely take her out to Tijuana Flats for Taco Tuesday,” Lockwood said. “It’s a university tradition… you can’t get much better than that.”
Warmke said Bern’s was “classy” and so was Genshaft.
Giering said this debate was just a first opportunity for students to watch the candidates’ debate. Another will take place Monday.
“We really got an opportunity to look into the candidates…We had a one-on-one conversation with both of them.”