Presidential candidates address student issues during debate

Cameron Garrett

The 2015-2016 Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates for Student Government (SG) discussed legislative intent, conflict resolution and improvements to UNF’s overall student experience at the debate on March 3.

Getting Started

Independent senate candidates Shawn Adamson and Christian Harvey extolled the virtues of running independently during their two minute speeches prior to the debate.

“I still take pride in my position as an independent because it gives me the capability to work with others, to agree with the parties where I want to, to disagree, and to try and be a moderating influence, and to be supportive and stop the divisiveness,” Adamson said.

Harvey also voiced his reasoning for running as an Independent.

“I chose to run as an independent in order to hold to my beliefs without interference and avoid the political turmoil which all too often paralyzes such institutions,” Harvey said.

SG’s Elections Commissioner Brad Johnson hosted the debate. He said that the debate portion of the evening would be delayed until a new microphone system could be set up due to the echoing response of the wireless microphones.

“Unfortunately, that lag is awful,” Johnson said.

The debate started three new microphones and eight minutes later.

The debate revealed differing opinions from the parties on everything from free-printing, to a 24-hour library and the avoidance of conflict in the senate. The decorum was civil, the spotlights were on, the questions were direct and the debate finished just in time for the men’s basketball game.

Candidates provided opening statements and were asked seven debate-style questions. After each question, the candidates were allotted thirty seconds for rebuttal.

Moderator Dr. Matthew Childers, an associate professor in the UNF Department of Political Science and Public Administration, laid down some ground rules before the debate began.

“Do not address each other, please address the audience and, unlike our elected representatives in Washington, please keep it civil,” Childers said.

Opening Statements

The opening statements are presented in the order in which they were given.

Shomari Gloster, presidential candidate for the United Party, talked about Student Government’s role in preventing student apathy.

“SG’s presence is not something that should have to be sought after. Through our consistent programming, good advertisement and a new increased presence of SG on this campus, student apathy will be put to rest,” Gloster said.

Matthew Harris, presidential candidate for the Red Party, said that one of SG’s primary purposes should be to enhance student experience at UNF.

“One of the goals of SG should be to increase the student experience a little bit everyday so that everyone is more proud to be an Osprey by the end of our term,” Harris said.

Party For Action presidential candidate True Rains elaborated on the party’s name. He said that his party’s goal is a more action-intensive SG.

“We want SG consistently working to improve and not get complacent,” Rains said.

Shomari Gloster is the United Party candidate.Photo by Morgan Purvis
Shomari Gloster is the United Party candidate.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

The Debate

The debate questions are also presented in the order in which they were given.

Question 1: Would you move free printing to the library or keep it in Club Alliance office?

United Party: Gloster said he would like to see free-printing move back into the library because the Student Union is out of the way.

Red Party: Harris said that the library cannot offer free-printing services because it takes money away from Auxiliary Services. He said that an expansion to free-printing in Club Alliance was in the works.

Party For Action: Rains agreed with Harris, saying free-printing in the library isn’t a realistic possibility. He did say Party For Action would work towards more convenient alternatives than Club Alliance.

Rebuttal: Not recorded due to technical difficulties.

Question 2: Do you agree with a 24-hour, 5-day-a-week library? Would you extend or shorten the hours?

Red Party: Harris said that a 24-hour library has been a Red Party initiative for a long time. He said he agrees with a 24/5 library and would work towards extending the library hours to 24/7.

Party For Action: Rains said he believes the 24/5 library is a waste of money. He said it isn’t a justifiable use of money because a large-majority of students aren’t in the library at 3 a.m. six weeks out of the year. He said that students could study at Starbucks if a late-night study spot is necessary.

United Party: Gloster said he does believe a 24-hour library is necessary, but he would shorten the program to a 24-hour library Monday through Wednesday.

Rebuttals: In response to Rains’ Starbucks comment, Harris said that the library is the only place on campus properly equipped to cater to the needs of the late-night studier.

Question 3: What is an issue that you have personally from students and how would you fix it?

Party For Action – Issue: Campus-life. Solution: Rains said better communication techniques like an SG mobile app or video-boards are necessary to communicate with students when events are happening.

United Party – Issue: Wi-Fi. Solution: Gloster said that the issue could be resolved by exploring where and when Wi-Fi is weak.

Red Party – Issue: Safety in the outer-parking lots. Solution: Harris said that floodlights in Lots 18 and 53 is an accomplishable task.

Rebuttals: Gloster agreed that safety is an issue and said that its resolvement is one of the United Party’s platforms. He said an extension of UNF’s Safety Rangers program is being explored. Harris also agreed that Wi-Fi is an issue. He said that Red Party’s experience with the expansion of Wi-Fi on campus would be conducive to determining a solution.

Question 4: What would you do with the $25,000 Executive Programming Budget?

United Party: Gloster said he would invest in consistent programming. He said students would come out to more events if they knew what was going on.

Red Party: Harris addressed why the Executive Programming Budget exists saying that it allows the executive branch to do things immediately for students. He

The Red Party presidential candidate is Matthew Harris. Photo by Morgan Purvis
The Red Party presidential candidate is Matthew Harris.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

said he would use the budget to provide extraordinary opportunities for students to engage with the campus.

Party For Action: Rains said that the budget should be used to communicate events to students and support other organizations on campus.

Rebuttals: No Rebuttals.

Question 5: How do you plan to avoid conflict in the senate?

Red Party: Harris acknowledged that conflict will always exist in large groups of people; however, he said transformational-servant leadership with a clear message will fix a lot of the problems.

Party For Action: Rains said the senate’s issues last semester were due to an unwillingness to work together. He said that he and Hennessy would make sure that everyone in SG would know that they are there to serve the students actively.

United Party: Gloster said the United Party would put policy over politics. He also said servant civil-leadership and an open-door policy would reduce conflict.

Rebuttal: Harris reiterated that the Red Party is committed to putting SG where it needs to be.

Question 6: If you weren’t involved in SG, how else would you try to make UNF a better place?

Party For Action: Rains said he would rejuvenate “The Wingmen.” The Wingmen, he explained, are a group that would promote school pride through participation in campus events.

United Party: Gloster said he would get involved in one of UNF’s multitude of clubs and organizations that are tailored to his interest and major.

Red Party: Harris said he would take advantage of one of the 217 clubs on campus that wouldn’t fit what he would conceptualize for himself, but would push him. He also said he would become more involved in the Honors Program.

Rebuttals: No Rebuttals.

True Rains is the Party for Action candidate.Photo by Morgan Purvis
True Rains is the Party for Action candidate.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

Question 7: How do you plan to make clubs and organizations flourish under your administration?

Party For Action: Rains said he would make sure that everyone in SG would support organizations by encouraging the senate’s active participation in events and clubs. He said the senate’s participation in the past has been pathetic.

United Party: Gloster said the United Party would support clubs and organizations by visiting and revisiting their respective budgets consistently.

Red Party: Harris alluded to his position as Assistant Director for Club Alliance, saying that he has revisited club funding and developed a new streamlined funding process that will be introduced next year.

Rebuttal: Gloster said he would revisit the 50/50 bill to make sure that money doesn’t run out before a semester ends. The 50/50 bill would separate the travel and special requests budgets with half being available at the beginning of the year and half being available at the end of the year. Harris responded saying that it would not be an issue to run out of money halfway through the year due to the reform to the budget process. He qualified his rebuttal by saying that the travel and special requests budgets are sitting above 50% of the allocated funds for this year.

Concluding Statements

United Party: Gloster concluded by urging students to look to the future by electing new, fresh representatives.

“Ospreys, do you really want our future, or do you want to miss it by looking in the past or remaining in the present? Looking on the present, you would certainly see a valid reason to move forward,” Gloster said.

Red Party: Harris said the Red Party has the experience and dedication to deliver the results students deserve.

“We’re willing to change what needs to be changed, and there are things that need to be changed, but we know exactly what we’re going to do when we get into office. We hope that you’ll support us because we’re ready to support you,” Harris said.

Party For Action: Rains said that the Party For Action’s goal is to increase the value of a UNF degree.

“We are really passionate about the school and making the changes that are necessary to make it reach its maximum potential,” Rains said.

Students gathered in the Student Union Plaza Tuesday night to hear from the presidential candidates running in the Spring 2015 election.Photo by Morgan Purvis
Students gathered in the Student Union Plaza Tuesday night to hear from the presidential candidates running in the Spring 2015 election.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

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