Hunger or hatred? OUSC presidential debates tackle the tough questions

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OU’s Student Congress election campaigns officially began the Wednesday before break with an election kickoff. First the vice presidential candidates, pictured here, participated in a debate. Last Wednesday, it was the presidential candidates' turns.

Grace Turner

Oakland University Student Congress presidential candidates had a chance to tell students why they are the best for the job at the presidential debate last Wednesday.

Candidates Katie Rose, Laina Townsend and Nick Walter each said they understand the duties of Student Congress President and are ready to be the voice that takes student problems to the administration. They each said that they have already met with administrators to talk about their platforms.

These candidates said they are dedicated to being accessible to students, whether by phone, email, social media or regular office hours.

“If you need to contact me, I will be available,” said Walter, a junior criminal justice major. He said he would drop all other leadership positions if elected, including his current Criminal Justice Club presidency and senior legislator position with Student Congress.

Rose, a sophomore biology major, said she would step down from some of the e-board positions that she holds outside of OUSC if elected. She is not currently in OUSC, but is president of Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection, and would become volunteer coordinator if elected. She would no longer hold her positions as secretary of the Neurology Club or events coordinator for the Red Cross Club.

“I would love to be here for you guys,” she said.

Townsend is a sophomore psychology major and said she will only take 12 credits per semester while in office. She also said she will attend the minimum number of events necessary to stay in her sorority or take a professional leave from it if necessary. She currently serves in the Student Congress legislature.

Their goals

Each ticket has a platform it hopes will improve OU in the next five to 10 years.

Part of Townsend’s platform includes creating a student voice committee, which she said will ask students what they want improved.

“We can’t be everywhere,” Townsend said. “We need to be implemented with a team.”

Walter said he doesn’t think a student voice committee is necessary because it’s the legislators’ job to find out what students want.

Walter said his agenda would include changing the grading scale so it’s easier for students to get a 4.0.

Townsend said she wants to start planning for the Oakland Center expansion and would include a space for the registrar’s office, which is  currently located in the basement of O’Dowd Hall.

Rose said she wants to find out what students want included in the  expansion plan and would send these ideas to administration.

All three candidates said they want to promote inclusion by helping diverse student organizations.

Their beliefs

When it comes to one word that describes them, the candidates had different things to say.

“Life,” Walter said of himself. “I’m so passionate about it.” He said he loves people and will talk with anyone about anything.

“Reliable,” Rose said. “I make it a point to be reliable for other people.”

“Determined,” Townsend said, saying she didn’t get her first choice position in OUSC when she tried. Her determination helped her to grow, become a legislator and become qualified for the Student Congress President position, she said.

The candidates also asked if they would rather end hunger or hatred.

Rose said hunger.

“If you don’t have health, you don’t have anything,” Rose said.

Townsend and Walter said hatred. Townsend said if there was no hatred, people would make sure that everyone had enough to eat.

Walter said the world could be fed with the amount of free food at OU.

A matter of experience

As the debate closed, Walter said the president should have experience in Student Congress and pointed out that Rose doesn’t.

Rose said she has had many leadership positions and has served on many e-boards before. She has also attended Student Congress events and has been going to OUSC meetings for the last two months.

“We know what we’re getting into,” she said.

Walter also said Townsend doesn’t fully understand the struggles of OU students because she doesn’t pay tuition since her mother, Janell Townsend, is faculty.

Townsend said that because she goes to OU, her mother has a pay cut. She also pays taxes on her tuition and an administration fee.

“I think it’s unprofessional that this was brought up,” Townsend said in a later interview.

“In no way do I try and hide this fact. To clear the air, my tuition is not completely free, but because of this benefit I receive, it makes me want to work harder for students so they can receive similar benefits,” she said.

At the debate, Townsend said a ticket needs to have a platform that matches the administration’s agenda or it will be ignored. She said she doesn’t understand how making 4.0s more attainable is important to OU’s administration.

Voting time

All three candidates encouraged students to vote.

Students can vote March 23-30. Voting booths will be set up around campus, or students can vote online and see candidates’ platforms at oakland.edu/voteou.

Students will have a chance to meet with potential legislators at noon Tuesday in the Fireside Lounge.