Student government candidates engage in debate

Back to Article
Back to Article

Student government candidates engage in debate

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






March 16, 2014

 

By Vesna Brajkovic

 

After a close-call with disqualification, the Nathan Perry and Lucas Tomachek were able to attend the Whitewater Student Government (WSG) 2014-2015 Presidential Election Debate against candidates Rob Emmett and Thomas Ziolkowski on March 11 at the University Center Down Under.

“I think that both candidates did a really good job with answering the questions, and not really dodging anything,” Former WSG President Justin Murphy said. “They had some good background knowledge on the issues that students care about.”

After opening statements, each slate was allotted two minutes to answer questions chosen from students who attended the debate. Election council members reviewed the questions for appropriateness before being given to the candidates.

 

Opening Statements:

Nathan Perry & Lucas Tomachek

 Perry: Hello everyone. My name’s Nathan Perry and I’m running for Whitewater Student Government president and this is…

Tomachek: Hi. I’m Lucas Tomachek. I’m running for student government vice president. Today we’re going to talk to you about our goals if we get elected, and try to sway you to feel as we feel- that we are the most qualified candidates for this position and that we can do the best job possible.

Perry: Thank you all for being here tonight.

 

Rob Emmett & Thomas Ziolkowski

Emmett: Good evening everybody. I want to thank everybody for coming and showing that you care about the student voice and how it’s represented in the student government. My name is Rob Emmett, I am running for WSG president.

Ziolkowski: I’m Thomas Ziolkowski, I am running for WSG vice president.

Emmett: A little bit of background about who we are and what we do- I currently serve as the Residence Hall Association president, as well as the SUFAC vice-chair. And that really has given me a lot of skills that I’m going to be able to use for WSG leadership, in making sure that the student voice is heard, and fairly represented here on campus.

Ziolkowski: I am the Chair of SUFAC and, like Rob said, he’s the vice-chair. We work very well as a team together, and being on student government we get to work a lot with different advisors and the chancellor, things we would be able to utilize if we were elected president and vice president.

Emmett: So, Thomas and I have a really good working relationship together. We really-through our work in SUFAC- have enhanced student wealth on campus, through the fees that students pay in their tuition, and we are proud of that because we both think our work has effected all students on campus. We have some good ideas about diversifying the senate, as well as the student voice, because we understand that there is not just one student at UW-Whitewater. We’re all Warhawks, and there are many different aspects that make us Warhawks, so we really want to relay that message of diversity and inclusion tonight. We also are proponents of sustainability- we could do more. This packet could have been back-to-back instead of two pages, and there are little things that could be enhanced that could really reduce our footprint here on campus. We’re looking to do some reform to some classes, that we got some feedback about, that really aren’t necessary or aren’t effective, or cognizant of the student learning. And then we really want to focus on student inclusion. Through a couple various ways that we see, like gender inclusive restrooms, there’s a need for that. We’re well behind the times of that. UW-Lacrosse has had gender-neutral restrooms for ten years. And then we want to make sure that all buildings are universally designed. We hope you can gain some knowledge and ask some good questions.

 

Question: If elected as president and vice president, what will be your first order of business?

Emmett & Ziolkowski

Emmett said that the lack of WSG connection with student council is going to be their first order of business. “They say that we rarely show up, although we say we’re going to be there. So, we’re going to ensure that that is going to happen,” Emmett said.

 Perry & Tomachek

 Perry said that one of their main goals would be to evaluate and improve the general education courses at Whitewater.  “Our main focus is going to be to start off the year by looking to see what Gen. Eds. are doing and to see if they’re achieving their goals. And if they’re not, what we can do to fix them so that everyone has a valuable experience out of taking general education courses here at UW-Whitewater.

Tomachek said that he spoke “in-depth” with one of his professors, Howard Ross, who was the dean 20 years ago, about the general education system. Tomachek said that he learned that the system hasn’t been changed since the start and that it may have been “flawed” from the start.

 

Question: What is a simple student issue you could address immediately, and what is one that will require a more broad approach

 Perry & Tomachek

 Perry said the students getting parking tickets in parking lots close to the library while students “should be there studying” is something they hope to remedy, although it is a “big project.”  “We don’t shy away from the challenges and difficulties that come with trying to achieve that goal,” Perry said.

Tomachek made it clear that although they would be “putting a lot of stock and emphasis into achieving that” goal, they have other long-term goals reaching out “all the way to expediting advising.”

 Emmett & Ziolkowski

 “Our first short-term goal would be to get more student voice,” Ziolkowski said. He said that he would like to implement more quizzes and surveys, report the results, and giving them directly to WSG so they don’t get lost or set aside. “We should listen to this campus voices and change things based on what the students want,” he said.

He said that a long-term goal the slate had would be “work side-by-side” with textbook rentals to transfer the books to an online medium. “We would be the first UW-school to do this, so we would have a sustainability edge,” Ziolkowski said.

“The implementation of online textbooks is a two-part piece. Because it helps those with visual impairments,” Emmett said. “…It really creates a more inclusive learning community here on campus.”

 

Question: How will you actively seek our student issues and concerns?

 Emmett & Ziolkowski

 “We can’t just sit down and wait for people to come to us, no. We need to come to them,” Emmett said. “Because chances are they’re not going to come up to you and [voice their concerns], we need to actively search and find what’s wrong.”

 Perry & Tomachek

 Perry said that in order to reach out to students they would go to classes and organizations and keep the student informed about what WSG is.

 

Question: What is your position on a campus-wide smoking ban?

Both slates agreed that a campus-wide smoking ban is not necessary.

 

Question: Governor Walker’s tuition freeze ends in 2016, what kind of things will you do to advocate for differential tuition at UW-Whitewater at the end of that freeze.

 Perry & Tomachek

 “As you know, there’s inflation ever year,” Perry said. “We’re not getting as much for our money. We need to take a deep look at that before we can make a decision. And we’d also get student input to see their opinion on the matter, because the student voice is what we represent and is what matters the most.”

Tomachek said that focusing on sustainability would also help cut excess spending.

 

Emmett & Ziolkowski

Emmett said that lifting a tuition freeze could cause tuition to go “through the roof,” and he wants to try to prevent that from happening. But he also said that he doesn’t want the campus to loss good professors. “We need to take a look internally to make sure we’re doing our best, especially with student fees,” Emmett.

 

Question: What projects in sustainability on campus to you wish to put in place?

 Emmett & Ziolkowski

 Beside implementing electronic textbooks, Emmett said the slate hopes to work more with recycling projects.

“We need to limit the amount of paper we use,” Ziolkowski said. “It’s not necessary.”

 

Perry & Tomachek

 One of the slates immediate goals in sustainability, Perry said, would be to get water bottle filling stations in Hyland Hall.

Tomachek said that the water bottle filling stations are Whitewater’s property, and due to contracts they can’t be put in. Tomachek said that getting this project moving would “cut water spending through the roof.” “It’s the little things that add up overtime that produce some of the greatest results,” Tomachek said.

Perry said that since the campus is making a master plan, he wants to make sure that the campus is sustainable in the future.

 

Question: What do you think USG’s role in aggregating for UW-Whitewater students at the state level?

Emmett & Ziolkowski

 “Making sure that we are active and present to make sure that we can represent Whitewater students at the state level,” Emmett said.

 Perry & Tomachek

 “If there’s an issue that’s affecting students at a state level, if we need to, we will go to the Capitol to lobby on the student interests because that’s what we’re here for,” Perry said.

 

Question: Advising has been a continuing problem in Whitewater, especially in the Arts & Communication, what will you do to work with the administration to better this?

Emmett & Ziolkowski

 Ziolkowski said that communication with the professors is essential to bettering advising.

“Give a little more responsibility to the student to know what classes they need to take,” Emmett said

 Perry & Tomachek

 Perry said that something they can do is have a mapped out 4-year plan for students so that all students have a clear path.

“You can make students’ lives so much simpler,” Tomachek said. “It’s something that is long overdue.”

 

Question: What is your plan to make the Whitewater community more LBGT-friendly?

 Emmett & Ziolkowski

 Increasing understanding of LBGT community, and using more inclusive words to describe people is something Emmett said they need to act on. Gender-neutral restrooms, and gender-inclusive housing is something the slate is focusing on. “We want to make sure that this is a campus where people are comfortable no matter where they are,” Emmett said.

Perry & Tomachek

 “Why should one group that feels a little bit differently be secluded and harassed and made to feel lesser about it,” Tomachek said. “It simply shouldn’t happen, and it’s a shame it does happen.” Tomachek said that gender-neutral bathrooms are one thing they could work on.

 

Question: What three characteristics do the WSG president and vice president need to possess?

 Emmett & Ziolkowski

 1.) Diversification between the president and vice president

2.) Leadership

3.) Ability to make a tough decision

Emmett said that willingness to be the bad guy in certain situations, and the ability to say “no” to things can be beneficial.

 Perry & Tomachek

1.) Motivation

2.) Differences between president and vice president

3.) Ability to work together

“People who don’t set boundaries on things they can accomplish, their limit is in their own head,” Tomachek said. “The world is at your fingertips, and that’s definitely something that Perry and I both have going on for us, together, as a team.”

 

Students can vote March 18 to March 19 on uww.edu/join