Student body president and vice presidential candidates expressed their concerns and opinions at the Student Government debate Wednesday night to approximately fifty students.
The debate, which lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, allowed incumbents Mike Griffin and Dave Mincberg and challengers Joe Nirenberg and Lakia Stewart to share their platforms and answer questions from students. The Residence Hall Association and the Election Rules Committee hosted the debate.
After a coin toss to see which ticket would be the first to present their opening statements, Griffin and Mincberg began discussing their platform of accountability and communication how continuity breeds results.
“We decide to run again for a number of reasons,” Griffin said. “A good friend told me to treat life and a job like a marathon and not a sprint, and that is what we did.”
Nirenberg and Stewart said they have three main goals in their platforms: uniting all Bulls, improving parking and increasing the visibility of SG.
“I want to represent all students,” Nirenberg said.There were a total of 15 questions asked of the candidates, and they were given a minute to answer each question. The students in the audience wrote their questions on an index cards, which were collected and handed to the moderator, USF professor Susan MacManus, to choose. Each ticket for the first six questions had to alternate between president and vice presidential candidate. For the rest of the questions, the tickets chose who they wanted to pick to answer the question. Some of the issues that were brought up were those of Marshall Center improvement, graduate students and the relationship between student body president and the Board of Trustees.
Griffin was cut off by time constraints when answering the question inquiring about the Marshall Center improvement.
“This is my baby. It needs to be a place that unifies the students, and we are seriously lacking behind,” Griffin said. “There is a required amount of square-feet that needs to be designated to the amount of students on campus, and we are only half the size it should be.”
Nirenberg said he and Stewart would reach out to the graduate students and find out what their concerns are.
“Even though I have not been in contact with a lot of graduate students this year, I can say that we will definitely represent them and reach out to them as students as a whole,” Nirenberg said.Professor Susan MacManus, who was the moderator for the debate, said she was surprise by the question on how a student body president can stay balanced while being a member of the Board of Trustees.
Griffin said as a BOT member he would always be representing the students.
“This is a position that was fought long and hard for by Florida Student Association and I am on the board to represent students. Do I build relationships? Well, yes. That is how you get stuff done,” Griffin said. “But when pinned down in a corner I will not sell out the students.”
Nirenberg said he agreed with Griffin that the position holds the duty to represent the students.
“Representation on the BOT is needed. Yes you build relationships, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be done,” Nirenberg said. “Students first, relationship second.”
After the question/answer, session candidates were given a minute to make closing statements.
Mincberg said the past year in office was a blessing and he was glad he had the opportunities to serve as a leader.
“What we have learned this year, we will apply it next year. We will leave no one behind, and we will continue to work hard,” Mincberg said.
Stewart said she really wanted to stress how hard she and Nirenberg will work for them.
“We really want to work for you,” Stewart said. “I have never been so passionate in something like I am in this.”
Patience Clark, a third year student, said she came into the debate with only some knowledge of the candidate.
“I have realized more issues that happen on campus, and I will pay more attention now,” Clark said. “I know that Mike and Dave work hard, but that was about it.”
MacManus said USF should be proud of how many students care for SG.
“USF should be proud with the caliber of the people who are running and the quality of the questions that were asked,” MacManus said. “It was a dignified audience and a great presentation by the candidates.”