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Five days and maybe five tickets

The race for student body president and vice president may have lost one of its six tickets Thursday when presidential candidate Ricky Arias failed to show up at a debate for the second time.

Arias’ running mate, Matt Camarco, said after the debate he “would have had a better running mate if he had run with Donald Duck.”

“He was too busy to show up at the debate because he went to work at his minimum wage job,” Camarco said of Arias. “I think his priorities are not in order.

“I think we still have time to get our message out to students, but I couldn’t do it myself and he doesn’t appear to be committed to doing it.”

The five tickets that did participate in the debate, sponsored by Student Government’s Election Rules Commission, were allotted three minutes for opening statements. Then, all five tickets answered the same three questions from the ERC and three questions from audience members, while candidates were given four minutes for closing statements to end the debate.

Bijal Chhadva/Andrew Aubrey

Chhadva and Aubrey stressed improved relations between SG and all student organizations in order to better reach out to the student body and make the campus a place all students could enjoy.

“Being responsible means being 100 percent dedicated to your job and the people you serve,” Aubrey said when the ERC asked candidates to define personal responsibility. “Student Government needs to be accountable and needs to let people know what it is doing. One of our goals will be to better reach the students and get them involved.”

The ticket also outlined a plan to lobby the state legislature to provide equal funding for all 11 of Florida’s public universities and to increase student interaction in what Chhadva called an effort to “eliminate stereotypes on campus.”

Mike Mincberg/Christi Clements

This ticket summarized an administration that would be, as both Mincberg and Clements called it repeatedly, “highly inclusive.” Clements described a council comprised of presidents from every student organization in campus that would serve to provide SG with a forum to hear all students’ concerns.

When the ERC asked what purpose candidates thought SG served, Mincberg responded: “Of course the purpose of Student Government is to serve the students, but how do you do that? By getting out there and talking to the students. By listening to their concerns and by figuring out what they want and need. That is what we hope to accomplish with this president’s council.”

Clements also said while USF is one of the largest universities in the country, more can be done to get students to want to attend USF. She said students now are creating traditions that USF lacks because of its youth compared to other state universities, and that by embracing these growing traditions students will take notice of the school.

Brandon Faza/J.P. Murphy

Faza and Murphy told the audience they wanted to bring more professionalism and integrity to SG in an effort to make all agencies more efficient.

“We want to make sure the actions of Student Government reflect well on the individuals it represents. This means making sure Student Government is held accountable and when SG plans an event, lobbies before the legislature or anything else, it is done the right way as effectively as possible,” Faza said when answering the question on personal responsibility.

Faza also discussed a platform the ticket broke down into five categories: student outreach, accountability, student concerns, academics and “Bull pride.” Murphy said one of the most important things SG can do is advertise itself to let the student body know what it is doing, and by doing so, he added, the president and vice president will be in better positions to help students in the other categories.

Esque Dollar/Tameka Bradley

Dollar, president of USF’s Black Student Union, said SG needs to get back to addressing basic student concerns. He said safety of students on campus is an issue, saying that there are only four University Police officers on campus at any given time, and that SG has turned into a “clique,” excluding the concerns of several student organizations.

Dollar also expressed a need for SG to better communicate with students, proposing a weekly newsletter distributed to students to keep them up-to-date with all SG activities.

Unlike the other candidates, who used their closing statement to go into more detail about their platforms, this ticket ended by further introducing itself to the audience.

“If you know who we are, you will be more apt to come to us and tell us what we need to be doing or what you think we’re doing wrong if we should win,” Bradley said.

Omar Khan/Chris Jackson

Khan, the presidential incumbent, spoke at length about what he has accomplished in his year as student body president. The duo said the best thing students can do is get involved in the political process and make their voices heard.

“Obviously, we will fight the 120 credit hour cap proposal, there’s no doubt about that,” Khan said in response to an audience member’s question. “The biggest issue here will be getting students involved. I really think this proposal will be easily defeated, but the fact that it has even gotten this far, just like the standardized testing issue did, is an insult to education and an insult to the students.”

Khan said he wished he had done a better job of publicizing SG during his year in office, saying a lot was accomplished during that time. He said the defeat of the college standardized testing proposal, fighting the NSEERS controversy and getting more students to register to vote and make themselves heard were all examples of positive things his administration had done.

The debate, held before more than 60 people in the Engineering Teaching Auditorium, ended after ERC chairman Andrew Read, reminded students that the 2003 election was decided by just two votes.

He said the results from last year is evidence that every vote counts and makes it important for as many students as possible to vote when the polls open Wednesday morning.