Candidates running for Student Government president and vice president had the chance to make their case and state their positions during Wednesday evening’s debate at the Student Center. Presidential candidates Josh Lowe and his running mate Jacob Speck, David Yanagi and his running mate Ryan Roper and Matthew Norfleet and his running mate Desmond Miller were questioned by moderators Katrease Stafford, Editor-in-Chief of The Eastern Echo and Mary Larkin, the program coordinator for the LGBT Resource Center.
The candidates were asked to name one specific idea they were focusing their campaigns on and the answers varied.
Norfleet and Miller said if elected, they plan to lobby Dining Services and work with purchasers to lower prices at campus convenience stores. Lowe and Speck said they would focus on fixing the roads around campus, namely N. Huron Drive. Yanagai and Roper plan to bring the campus together by creating marketing solutions for EMU organizations, namely by adding information kiosks around campus.
The candidates answered questions throughout the two-hour debate on many topics such as how they think students perceive their leadership styles, to what they would do first if elected, and what they think the most challenging aspect of being Student Government president/vice president would be. The most challenging aspect, they all agreed on, would be working with the administration and building up communication between the student body, Student Government and the administration.
The candidates were also asked about a hot button issue with most EMU students; the perpetual problem of parking prices and availability. Roper said he and Yanagi would push for a second parking structure to be built and provide AATA bus passes for students at a reduced cost. Norfleet responded by saying that he and Miller would push for free AATA bus passes to be paid for from student fees and lower parking fees. Roper disagreed with Norfleet feeling that the cost of bus passes shouldn’t be added to students’ tuition and fees because many commuters wouldn’t use bus passes. Lowe said he and Speck would try to get the cost of parking tags lowered back to a more affordable price.
The debate took a more personal turn with a question about what the candidates thought about the inclusiveness of EMU regarding the LGBT community. Lowe and Speck said they were proud of the inclusiveness of the EMU campus and talked about how much they enjoyed the LGBT Pride Prom that had been held on campus earlier this month.
“EMU is a safe campus because of our diversity,” Yangai said.
It was for Norfleet that this question was the most personal. He became emotional while sharing that he was a member of the LGBT community. He told the audience how he had came out as a homosexual when he was 15 years old.
Norfleet said when he transferred to EMU from Henry Ford Community College, he immediately felt welcomed.
“EMU has been great,” he said.
Lowe was the next candidate to face a personal and difficult question, this time from an audience member, about his “abrupt” departure from student organizations last year. Lowe replied that the word “abrupt” was not accurate. He explained that he had to leave the senate because of a heart condition and had been told by his doctor to drop a few things.
Lowe stressed though that he is ready to get back to work.
“I’m capable,” he assured the audience.
Miller, the youngest candidate, was questioned on whether the fact that he was a freshman with limited leadership experience would be a hindrance in office.
“Students shouldn’t judge me on my age,” Miller said.
He went on to talk about the many meetings he had sat in on regarding issues like Wi-Fi and parking issues. He also reiterated that statement his running mate had made earlier about how he had completed the most projects of any senator.
The next question was aimed at Yanagi who was asked whether the fact that he was a commuter student would hinder his serving as Student Government president if elected. Yanagi answered that as a commuter, he would have a point of view that a resident student would not. He also went on to refute that being a commuter would be a hindrance by saying that he gets to all his classes on time, goes to work, is an active part of his fraternity and still maintains a high GPA, so he could handle the duties of president.
At the end of the debate, each pair of candidates made their last statements on why students should vote for them. Norfleet said he and Miller intend to make EMU a better place for students, commuters and residents.
“We will do our best to fulfill our promises,” he said.
Roper said that he and Yanagi see a need for constant improvement in Student Government on campus.
“We will represent the students if elected. We need to reclaim our campus and take charge of our education,” Roper said in closing.
Lowe and Speck said if elected, they would be accessible and approachable to students and would work on their behalf. Lowe closed by urging students to get out and vote.
“Please take part in the voting process, even if you don’t vote for us,” Lowe sad.
The Student Government president/vice president election takes place on Wednesday, March 28 and Thursday, March 29.