The Black Student Union sponsored their third annual Student Government presidential debate. All six tickets were in attendance. The BSU decided to change the format this year: They took written questions from students before the debate to be ask during the new directed-question session. The moderator asked one question per ticket. The ticket had a chance to answer, after which all other tickets had a chance to comment on the answer. The ticket originally asked the question is then allowed a rebuttal.
Original moderator Tameka Bradley said the new format was chosen to make the debate more interesting.
The debate, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., was delayed until 7 because of candidates’ concerns over both the choice of moderator and the new format. The concern was that a faculty member or staff member of the university must moderate an SG presidential debate and Bradley was only a member of BSU. SG Adviser Jen Brack was chosen as the replacement moderator. Student members of the BSU have moderated both of the past two debates they hosted.
After candidate introduction, the first directed questions went to Silverlee Hernandez and running mate Matthew Couret. It challenged their ticket’s slogan, “Vote for candidates who show action and not just promises,” since they are running against tickets that have spent time working in SG.
“To be honest, a lot of them have been here for four years and I haven’t really seen any action from them,” Hernandez said.
In Maxon Victor’s response, he called Hernandez’s statement “kind of harsh.”
The next question, directed at Brandon Faza and running mate Brittany Link, was a two-part inquiry about working as team players and putting aside personal advancement for the good of SG.
Faza and Link both responded by listing projects they have been working on.Student body Vice President Andrew Aubery’s response brought a new interpretation to the table.
“I think what the question was referring to is the fact of the personal relationship,” Aubery said. “How do you plan to conduct yourself while in office as a couple? That is what I think the question was referring to.”
“I do want to echo a little of what Andrew (Aubery) said,” Johnson said. “I think definitely that is something that is a huge problem and a huge issue in this election. It’s a public issue, not a private matter.”
Link’s rebuttal dismissed the new interpretation.
“I don’t think that the question was addressing our relationship at all,” Link said. “If you look at the way that we have campaigned and if you look at our Web site, that is something that we have made very public.”
Brack’s next question was directed at Glenn Gilzean and Xavier Johnson. The question demanded a “plan of attack in getting things done when previous efforts seemed to have failed in (the candidates’) other organizations.”
“Quite frankly, everything that I have worked on and worked together as a team with other student leaders on we have accomplished,” Gilzean said.
The next question was for Michael Johnson and running mate Kyle Myers, and questioned their lack of SG experience.
Johnson pointed out that Myers had actually briefly participated in SG.
“I cannot emphasize enough that it is student body president and vice president,” Johnson said. “Involvement in other organizations in Student Government does not mean leadership in them. You can be involved in as many committees or organizations as you want, but can you lead them?”
Hernandez responded by saying that, “in terms of experience for Student Government, I think that it shows volumes that there are individuals in Student Government right now that have experience and haven’t done anything.”
Aubery responded by talking about the gravity of the job they all were vying for.
“With all due respect, you might have been president or vice president of an organization, but none to the size and magnitude of Student Government,” Aubery said. “It is a big responsibility.”
Aubery and running mate Jessica Asuncion were asked about attendance issues in the senate and the Cabinet (which Aubery is in charge of).
“Because of re-election, I have not been able to put as much time as I would like into my classes or into Student Government because I am honestly concerned about being elected president to do a good job for the next year,” Aubery said. “Our style of campaigning takes a lot of time.”
Johnson chided Aubery’s statement.
“If you were elected to take a position, that should be your first and foremost responsibility,” Johnson said.
Faza spoke on the current state of the Cabinet.
“If you speak to some of the Cabinet members as I have privately … Cabinet meetings have recently been quite ineffective,” Faza said.
Victor and running mate Sameer Ahmed were the last ticket in the directed question session. They were asked if, since they have dubbed themselves “The People’s Campaign,” they truly felt they could reach out to all the groups on campus.
“Yes, very simple,” Victor said.
Victor went on to list a wide variety of activities he had participated in; Ahmed did the same.
After the direct questioning session, the tickets were asked two questions about campus diversity, one focusing on USF’s gay community. The candidates all responded similarly, in support of an open-minded campus.
The next full debate will be hosted by the Residence Hall Association and will occur tonight at 9 in Holly J.