In a room filled with about 45 people, candidates running for the student body president and their running mates gathered for a Student Government debate in Cooper Hall on Thursday night. The debate was moderated by USF professor Edward Benton.
Candidates were faced with questions about Bright Futures, campus security, tuition increases and campus involvement in SG.
The order in which they spoke was predetermined by a draw before the debate. Each ticket was given four minutes for their introduction. Omar Khan, a political science major, opened the floor with his vice-presidential running mate Ryan Morris by saying they will fight excessive tuition increases.
“We want to serve the student body and no one else by reaching out to them,” Khan said.
Bijal Chhadva and Candice Wild spoke next about their intentions to get students motivated in addition to improving student concerns with parking for residents and non-residents.
“Students’ involvement has to start with motivation at orientation,” Chhadva said.
Third on the floor were Mike Berman and Ronda Bostick, who discussed their plans to build new traditions at USF as well as improve campus security.
“By improving lights on walkways and placing movement cameras throughout campus, we can help deter crime at USF,” Berman said.
Speaking last was presidential candidate Chase Razabdovski and Jorge Rodriguez, who suggested creating innovative solutions for the parking problems on campus, as well as an attempt to make prices for books more reasonable at the USF Bookstore.
“We want to research selective price markups at the USF Bookstore,” Razabdovski said.
An important issue at hand was the preservation of the Bright Futures scholarship fund and the candidates’ involvement in the fight to keep it alive.
All of the candidates agree that the fund is an important asset to a vast number of students attending USF. Khan and Morris said they were actively notifying high school students and their parents about the possibility of losing Bright Futures.
“We’ve gotten in with superintendents in counties throughout Florida to increase awareness about this issue, ” Morris said.
Chhadva and Wild said they want to notify more students at USF about Bright Futures.
“I’ve tried to spread the word about collecting signatures within the residences here on campus,” Chhadva said.
Berman and Bostick said the issue hits close to home.
“I personally would not be standing here if it wasn’t for Bright Futures and I was one of the many students who went to Tallahassee to let the state legislators know what our stand is,” Bostick said.
Razabdovski and Rodriguez said people should continue doing what they have to do.
“If you have to work 40 hours a week then we will, but you have to let your legislator know your stand,” Razabdovski said.
Toward the end of the debate, the candidates made an effort to get their points across. First was Razabdovski, who addressed Berman’s slogan to get a reaction from the crowd.
“Got issues? If we keep electing the same people over and over again, we’ll keep having the same problems,” Razabdovski said.
Khan, the second candidate to speak, repeated his stance on not compromising academic freedom.
“We would work with the (Student Government Senate), and when it comes to the president of USF getting a $80,000 raise, we don’t agree with that,” Khan said.
Chhadva concluded by stating that if elected, he, along with Wild, would like to keep the lines of communication open.
“We would like to set up a forum where students can reach us if they need us,” Chhadva said.
Berman, who is the Student Government Senate president, mentioned that he carried the USF student constitution like his bible and said that whoever is elected to be student body president should make it theirs, as well.
“You should eat, breathe and sleep thinking about the issues and the students, it should be your life,” Berman said.
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