Head to head: Whitewater Student Government candidates debate day before election

 

March 11, 2015

Josh Hafemeister

Vesna Brajkovic

 

Among last night’s participants in the Whitewater Student Government presidential debate, the audience included several members of the Black Student Union (BSU), whose weekly meeting was rescheduled in favor of attending the debate.

Questions were asked about diversity and LGBT, the on-campus tobacco policy, safety, parking and the budget cuts.

Presidential candidates Allison Hetz and Savana Staggs, along with their vice-presidential candidates Brian Carlson and Alexandria Zamecnik respectively, responded to questions posed by WSG Student Affairs Director Rob Emmett at 5 p.m. on March 10 in the University Center’s Down Under.

Questions were written by members of the audience and handed to a panel of three WSG members. Then, if the questions were deemed appropriate by the panel, Emmett would direct the question at the slates.

Zamecnik
Zamecnik
Staggs
Staggs

For each question, one slate was asked a question, and they had two minutes to answer. The other slate was then given one minute to respond. Then vice versa.

The topic of different cultures and diversity constantly came up in questions. One such question asked the slates what they have planned to make the campus more welcoming to African-American students.

“There’s no one kind of Warhawk,” Staggs said. “So I think it’s really, really
important that we have [diversity] in our community and in our senate.”

Both slates were in support of a President’s Forum. It would be a place where all students, as well as members of all campus organizations such as BSU or Latinos Unidos, can come and bring their ideas and issues to WSG.

The candidates also were in support of WSG members becoming more culturally aware and promoting a diverse campus.

“I would like to see more student government e-board members – ideally senators – to be going to the [cultural] events,” Carlson said. “I think that’s the best way we can show our support, and I think that’s how we will become more educated.”

Carlson
Carlson
Hetz
Hetz

When asked what their ideas were for supporting the LGBT community, both slates said education was the key.

On the topic of safety, Hetz said she was interested in promoting the Campus Security Officer (CSO) programs and the police escort service, as well as looking into putting an emergency light system in the six-pack.

Zamecnik countered the emergency light system by commenting about a conversation she had with UW-Whitewater Police Chief Matthew Kiederlen.

“Those safety lights are actually outdated technology,” she said. “So what they are doing now is just continuing to push cellphones.”

The recently announced cuts in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget were another topic of concern for students in attendance.

When asked whether the budget cuts will effect student organizations, Carlson said it will.

“That’s just the way it is,” he said. “But, we are going to do the best that we can to make sure that the budget cuts effect the least amount of students.”

Staggs said she doesn’t think the cuts will have a huge impact. She said she and Zamecnik want to keep the cuts low for student organizations.

The slates were asked about whether the Segregated University Fees Allocation Committee, or SUFAC, is over funded. SUFAC decides what organizations or programs get money and how much they get.

Carlson said he had full confidence in SUFAC. He thinks distribution is well thought out and well processed.

“One thing I will be looking at is making sure that organizations are taking the money they need, but not having excessive funds,” Hetz said.

Staggs said she doesn’t think it’s overfunded, but she wants to be cautious of spending.

“I think it’s important to look at every line of the budget and make sure you’re only spending what you need to spend,” she said.

The campus tobacco ban has been debated for several years. The slates were asked what their stance was on the topic.

“What we really want to do as vice president and president is bring closure to this issue,” Zamecnik said. “We don’t want to hear this every year, we want it to be done-—we want a tobacco ban or no tobacco ban. Students shouldn’t have to worry about this every year.”

The Hetz/Carlson slate said they were opposed to a ban because there isn’t a state-wide or federal ban on tobacco. Hetz said she felt “it would violate our students’ rights.”

The issue of student parking and the lack of space was brought up by a student, asking what plans the slates had to address the problem. Zamecnik brought up the campus master plan, which includes a
parking garage.

Hetz responded with the suggestion of a discount on parking to upperclassmen.

“A lot of times [upperclassmen] do need parking more than [lowerclassmen],” Hetz said. “Maybe we should reevaluate that. Something along the lines of decreasing the amount that upperclassmen pay and increasing the amount of lowerclassmen pay.”

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