Strickland, Wright, Supil participate in open dialogue with union, current officers
Student Government presidential candidates James Strickland and Joe Wright and unopposed treasury candidate Emily Supil defended their platforms and answered questions during a night of dialogue in the Russell House Senate Chambers Thursday.
The Carolina Debate Union, campaign staff members and fellow SG officers, as well as vice presidential candidates John Cuenin and Katie Thompson, pressed the candidates on the issues facing the student body in 2011. Last Thursday’s Debate Union dialogue featured Sens. Thompson and Cuenin as well as presidential candidate Steve Vereen.
Aside from those involved in SG, this week’s event was sparsely attended.
“It’s good to have these open dialogues, no matter who attends,” Debate Union President William Spires said. “We try to promote public discourse on campus, so it’s good just to have it available to students.”
Strickland, a former Debate Union officer, was first to present, promising to advocate for more funding from the state using the SG president’s power of presence at board of trustees meetings.
“In the past, officers have been able to change events just by speaking, not voting,” Strickland said. “The president must be an active member on the board of trustees, so we can use the resources we have to coordinate with state legislators.”
In order to reallocate funding, Strickland again vowed to monitor the money saved on the Carolina taxi service and to turn over a large amount of the president’s $5,400 paycheck to be distributed among student organizations. He also promised to prevent unnecessary fee increases by increasing transparency in the way tuition money is spent. As a pre-law student, Strickland emphasized restoring the USC Law Center, proposing a temporary relocation to current Innovista facilities.
Strickland also took the opportunity to announce his change of position against the student sustainability fund, after learning that the fee increase would be voluntary. He also talked about lowering the $25 solicitation fee for farmers market vendors to increase their accessibility to Russell House, after SG nixed its funding for the market this year.
Wright followed Strickland’s remarks on funding redistribution, advocating his platform’s theme of “reform, not revolution.”
“The previous administration has already set up a great foundation with the student cab services and the student lobbying groups,” Wright said. “We should take advantage of the opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons and work with what’s already in place.”
Wright also addressed complaints about the inflexibility of meal plan hours, proposing to set up a rollover system that would stay within Sodexo’s revenue stream. Wright said SG will need to “rebrand” itself and take a more public role in order to engage the student body.
“Student Government can only do so much as it is,” Wright said. “The problem is that the average student doesn’t care about what SG does, and that’s because we don’t mark ourselves to actually let people know what we do.”
Closing up the debate, Supil, the current senate finance chairwoman, announced that she is using the campaign to focus on student outreach and lay a foundation for open communication with student organizations. The candidates will not officially confer again until after the first round of elections, when another Debate Union forum for the winners and a possible run-off debate will ensue.
“Having open dialogues allows us to present ourselves and clarify our positions,” Strickland said. “It also gives us the opportunity to grill each other on our proposals and get a better understanding of what each candidate stands for.”