Student body presidential hopefuls debated a variety of topics Thursday, including campus safety, improvements to student and campus life, previous experience, knowledge of SG structure, potential lobbies and what sets them apart from the other candidates.
Students were able to ask the candidates questions and the candidates were able to question each other. At the end of the night, each candidate was given two minutes to make a closing statement.
Student Body Vice President Faran Abbasi moderated the debate, allocating speaking time to each ticket and asking the questions.
“This is a great opportunity to see who’s going to lead your University next year,” he said.
Candidates first tackled the issue of campus safety, explaining what was wrong and how they would address the problem.
Presidential candidate Justin Bragan and running mate Jonathan Dawson said that the problem is that there are not enough police officers to patrol campus, and that they will fund University Police and start a volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) program to address medical emergencies on campus.
“Security will make this University feel more comfortable,” Dawson said.
Presidential hopeful Nathan Davison and running mate Cordell Chavis said that since the tragedy at Virginia Tech, campus security should become to be a top priority. They will encourage a stronger, more effective police department by satisfying the needs of UP. They will also work with Allied Barton to ensure lives up to its contract.
“It terrifies me that another USF Bull might get hurt,” Davison said.
Running mates Justin Hall (president) and LaNard Taylor (vice president) said that budget cuts would not pay for a full police force that the university needs. They said they will work with Director of Public Safety Bruce Benson to make campus safer and that they will lobby UP to have more operators to answer the blue-lit emergency posts.
“We can’t promise anything concrete, but we will work with Allied Barton,” Taylor said.
Presidential Candidate Ryan Iacovacci and his running mate Sriram Madhusoodanan said that true security does not come with a $1 million contract with Allied Barton, but by learning what the students feel they need. They also want to connect the USF campus community with the surrounding areas to advocate better relations.
“Security comes from connecting with the students and asking what they want,” said Iacovacci.
Presidential hopeful Gregory “Butters” Morgan and running mate Thomas King said that SG can’t promise to hire new police officers, but that they will lobby the administration to take measures that will improve security on campus. They will also work with the monetary resources readily available.
“Whatever has to be done to heighten campus security on this campus I will do,” Morgan said.
Presidential candidate Nicole Randazzo and vice presidential candidate Ruth Damys will push for a well-lit campus by getting new lights and more blue-light emergency posts. They also want to start a community watch program through Safe Team and work with top administrators to improve campus safety.
“When you’re walking at night, you need to be able to see the person behind you,” Damys said.
Following the campus security discussion, candidates were asked how they would improve campus and student life.
Davison and Chavis said they would encourage more people to wear green and gold by starting a program, in which students would receive a USF school spirit item by turning spirit items from other schools. They also want to allow more growth for orientation.
Hall and Taylor want more academic advisers, more communication between the University and its students, and more campus activities – such as athletic spirit, block parities, and Movies on the Lawn. They also want the entire campus and its surrounding areas to be green and gold – not just the students.
Iacovacci and Madhusoodanan said that they want to see more colors than just green and gold on campus. They want to increase communication within the academic departments and residential halls. They also want to revamp college councils and build tradition and culture through a stronger sense of community at the University.
Morgan and King cited their previous projects that have affected student life, including Morgan’s conception of Our Shirt and creating a sports club council in the campus recreational center. They also want to have transitions meetings within SG, to encourage growth and ease the learning curve when a new person takes on a position.
Randazzo and Damys said that they want to give more money to student organizations so they can better support and advertise themselves. They also think that the Executive Branch of SG needs to be more visible. They want to create a committee that explains what SG is and what it does.
Bragan and Dawson said that the University’s best resource is the people that live in the community and that they want flags in the new Marshall Center representing all the different cultures that thrive in the community. They also said that they want to take advantage of the diverse paradigm this university has and work with that.
The candidates then had an opportunity to talk about their previous experience.
Hall said that he has established relationships with administrators and Taylor said he has formed relationships with students.
Iacovacci said that college councils need to be utilized and Madhusoodanan said that power needs to be decentralized and that the people should be trusted.
King said that he helped the executive branch with various projects and he has worked intimately with people in Student Affairs and Morgan was the student organizer of the last Round Up and is close with top administrators.
Randazzo said that she is on good terms with many administrators and that she works well with others. Damys was on the Stampeded of Service marketing board and she is a recruiter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Bragan said that his experience as a Resident Assistant has given him access to working with different departments on campus. Dawson said that he communicates with students on a daily basis and his experience as an RA will serve him well.
Davison said he was worked with many administrators and he is very knowledgeable of campus events. Chavis said he has worked on the plus/minus grading system project and that he’s worked with different administrators.
Candidates also expressed what they would lobby for if they were elected.
Morgan and King will work with the Florida Student Association as a voice of USF.
Randazzo and Damys pledged to lobby for more money, advisers, professors, and parking.
Bragan and Dawson will demand greater campus security and create a community with outside businesses.
Davison and Chavis will work towards getting every USF student registered to vote in Hillsborough County so they can elect leaders who have the University’s interest in mind.
Hall and Taylor will lobby to lower textbook prices and ask for the state to match each student’s tuition to the University.
Iavovacci and Madhusoodanan want to connect with the students, get a strong support from them and then lobby for what the students want.
To conclude the structured part of the debate, each candidate was asked to express what made him or her unique.
Randazzo and Damys said that they care about the University and that they have the time and dedication to appropriately serve the students.
Bragan and Dawson they are committed and devoted to student success and they have had more direct communication with students than any other candidate.
Davison and Chavis said that they offer a broad range of experience and that the only reason they are running is because they genuinely care.
Hall and Taylor said that they come from different walks of life and that those differences make them a great team.
Iacovacci and Madhusoodanan said they don’t fit the usual mold but that this is a positive because the current mold is not working for students.
Morgan and King said that integrity is one of their biggest attributes and that they are willing to stand up for what is right, rather than what is easy.