What makes you a better leader? Candidates for the upcoming student body president election had to answer questions like this during a debate Monday in the Student Center food court. The debate was hosted by the Student Government.
Antonio Cosme, presidential candidate, and his running mate, Muayad Mahmoud, faced off against opponents Kiantae Byers and his running mate, Doug Brinker.
Political science professor Dr. Barry Pyle moderated the debate. Dr. Pyle based his questions on each candidate’s platform and objectives.
Pyle began the debate by raising the issue of lowering tuition, which the candidates indicated as part of their objectives. He asked the candidates what creative ideas they have for attaining this.
“Create awareness about this issue because I believe not everyone sees this as an issue, prior to this, creating an avenue where people can write the congress, senators and legislators in Lansing showing how serious this is,” Brinker said.
In response to this question, Antonio Cosme, the opposing presidential candidate, believes marching in Lansing is important.
“Funding has been lowered,” Cosme said. “I have been to Lansing a lot of times and spoken to a couple of legislators concerning this matter and I believe one of the ways we can get a deserved response is marching there and expressing how we really feel.”
Although a definite solution for lowered tuition and increased funding by the State was not stated, other forms of funding were considered such as campus department funding.
“How can you realistically ask campus departments to increase funding and what type of programs would you ask the administrator to direct money to?” Pyle asked.
“Get the students involved and engaged in organizations or groups, not just by creating new ones, but also by enhancing the ones we have already,” Mahmoud said. “With that, the administration would be able to save up money and not waste on certain things that are not needed.
“Increasing university club sports will be a great idea that would attract many students and also a great investment, but it is imperative the students get involved initially.
This would make EMU stand out.”
Brinker believes one of the best ways to get students engaged is by putting yourself in their shoes and seeing things the way they see it. He said, “Information is basic. Creating awareness is very important to attain this.”
Byers added to his running mate’s statement. “I would say holding town meetings where students can interact and communicate with their peers,” he said. “Holding meetings like this would keep students informed and give room for eclectic relationship.”
In reference to the previous question, Pyle wanted an understanding of how the candidates would get the students involved in existing organizations such as Campus Life and two things they would get students involved in.
“Increase our budget to allow funding for these organizations so that they would go out there to create cognizance,” Cosme said. “Reaching to commuters is also very important because most I know some of the students who come a far distance and don‘t know what‘s going on campus.”
“Not only the commuters, but also the College of Business, which I think feels segregated from the school,” Mahmoud said. “There a lot of things we would get the students involved in, but two things among them are, institutionalizing voters, encourage students to take an active role in civic engagement and a diversity group, to promote diversity amongst students and tackle problems students face.”
Byers said holding town meetings would be a perfect remedy for this.
“Encourage students to visit the Career Services Center,” Brinker said. “Unknowing to some of them, that is a great place for a student to build. To complement this, another thing we would do is provide available resources. The students need the tools to implement this. For instance, we would suggest and get the students involved in an Emergency Resource Center where students can go or access resources.”
Both opposing vice presidential candidates were given the opportunity to give a closing statement.
Brinker said, “A coach of mine always told me this, ‘You must always give 100% on and off the pitch.’ It is all based on what you have done that reflects on what you are becoming.”
“So far I believe I have proven my self worth,” Brinker said. “I have had jobs and now it is time for a career and that’s why I am at EMU.”
Mahmoud said, “I love to engage students. I relate with everybody easily and I will always take on issue brought up to me by anyone.” He continued, “I believe so much in diversity and I love it. It is something that gives you a chance to relate with this people and in problems.”
The presidential candidates were then given an opportunity for final statements.
“Through our influence and activities on campus, we have shown what we can do and are capable of initiating,” Cosme said. “That’s why we strive to listen to the students and help in dealing with their concerns even though we are not elected yet.”
Byers said, “We based whatever we do on the 3Cs of Leadership; Commitment, communication and compassion— putting ourselves in the students’ position.”
In an interview with the candidates after the debate, they spoke on what makes them a unique candidate for this position.
“Student representation in an unprecedented way is imperative at EMU and also empowering students,” Cosme said.
“We have brought the initiative of parking,” Byers said. “A lot of people have complained to me about not having enough space on campus.”
Sophomore, Masha Sohn, attended the debate and spoke on her concern of sports.
“Sports is something I love doing and I hope we have more diverse sporting activities on campus with whoever gets elected,” Sohn said. “The debate was good and made me have a rethink on who to vote for. I hope whoever wins performs up to his objectives and I wish them luck.”