Candidates unveil ideas at first SG debate

One USF student, Sara Alnasur, challenged the nine Student Government (SG) presidential and vice presidential candidates in a question and answer session at the first debate Friday, asking each of them to name two upcoming campus events.

Vice presidential candidate Scott Howard, vice president of the Society of Physics Students, mentioned the organization’s engineering expo and a campus movie fest to be held next week.

Presidential candidate Andrew Cohen: National Pan-Hellenic Council Basketball game and the National Council of Negro Women’s ice cream social.

Presidential candidate Tim Moore, whose running mate Jonathon Davila was not in attendance, said Campus Movie Fest and Movies on the Lawn.

Spencer Montgomery and Cesar Hernandez, vice presidential and presidential candidates, respectively: Senior Citizen Prom night and the Caribbean Cultural Exchange.

Vice presidential candidate Daiquiri Jones, running mate for Daniel Dunn: “I can’t tell you how many times I look at my e-mail and there are thousands of e-mails of events that are going on.”

But Alnasur, a sophomore majoring in political science, was disappointed with the candidates’ answers.

“They always claim that we’re not informed and that we need to get out there and I can assume that half of them don’t really know what’s happening on campus and the major events that they do know are the ones that everyone knows regardless, like Movies on the Lawn,” she said. “I don’t think they all delivered. I was hoping that some specific people would come through a lot better than they did.”

The candidates did get specific, however, on their initiatives when it came to answering five questions based on a poll by the Student Alliance for a Politically Active Campus (SAPAC), who sponsored the debate.

One question focused on plans to increase student involvement, specifically in the three SG branches.

Cohen, SG director of University and Community Affairs, said he wants to implement a presidential radio show on Bulls Radio to inform students of what’s happening in SG.

“I commend the (SG) senate for putting on a radio show, but why doesn’t the executive branch get out there?” he said.

Following another question about seeking student input on SG projects and initiatives, Dunn said he wants to implement an online forum that is constantly monitored.

“People may, in any moment, send us complaints or any criticism,” said Dunn, a senior majoring in philosophy, and former opinion editor at The Oracle.

Each ticket made up of a presidential and vice presidential candidate was given 30 seconds to address each question.

“We talked to people who are members and students around campus,” said Christopher Bonk, president of SAPAC. “We essentially either took direct questions from them or found a combination of themes.”

In response to what he would do to move USF students’ issues to the local and state government, presidential candidate Christopher Leddy said he wants to lobby his platform in Tallahassee.

“Last year, I ran for SG president at this university and one of my campaign platforms was to work with SG presidents from across the state to focus lobbying efforts on Bright Futures and lowering tuition fees,” said Leddy, a senior majoring in political science and history, “And we will stand by that platform.”

Candidates were also asked of their plans toward creating a more environmentally friendly university.

Hernandez, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, said he wants to communicate with experts on campus on how to tackle environmental issues.

“(We have) the Alliance of Concerned Students and we also have Yogi Goswami. He’s a world expert on solar panels,” he said. “SG needs to be involved with these things.”

Goswami is a chemical engineering professor at USF who won the Farrington Daniels Award in 2007, the highest award from the International Solar Energy Society.

When it came to increasing the safety and security on campus, Moore said he wants to improve bicycle safety.

“There are no bicycle lanes for students and there should be,” said Moore, a junior majoring in business management.

The debate drew a crowd of nearly 130 people, with an additional 86 watching the debate via the SG Web site, said Michael LeBlanc, supervisor of the Election Rules Commission and moderator of the debate.

“Compare that to about 20 at the first debate last year,” he said. “I am very happy with the turnout.”

The second debate will air Wednesday on Bulls Radio at 7 p.m.