Candidates, Platforms Face off in Senate Debate
Zach George, of the REACH ticket, Tony Koehling, of yOU and independent candidate Jared Henderson were given the chance to address questions from both the Board of Elections and audience members in a formal debate setting.
In his opening statements, George said he felt OU had recently turned its back on the traditions that it is grounded in.
Henderson opened with a brief explanation of why he chose to run, namely that he felt Senate should dedicate itself to representing the students, even when the administration does not.
Koehling said that yOU’s platform presented values instead of a “to-do list,” during his opening statements.
Each candidate expressed similar views on the rising cost of education. The recent decision by the Board of Trustees to raise tuition 3.5 percent has been a controversial issue, but each candidate said it was key issue they would like to see addressed. Henderson said that the tuition increase is the issue he feels most strongly about.
“I think that [tuition increase] is a travesty,” said Henderson. “I think that we can probably find areas in this university where we can cut spending elsewhere, because every time we raise tuition, we are making education less accessible to future students from Ohio.”
“I’d have to say that the most important issue pertaining to Student Senate elections is enhancing representation,” said Koehling, who also said his presidency, if elected, would increase the “collaborative efforts between all organizations on this campus, as well as bringing more students from these organizations into Student Senate.”
“There are so many people that are qualified on this campus to be representative of the student body in the Senate form,” said Koehling. Koehling went on to say yOU’s ticket is comprised of people from different organizations, not necessarily affiliated with Senate.
“Those perspectives are going to give us the best Student Senate experience,” said Koehling.
George said he agreed with both of those statements, but that the tuition increase and enhancement of Senate representation is “not hitting the core of the problem.”
“As an institution, as Ohio University, as Bobcats, we don’t know who we are,” said George. “We suffer from an identity crisis.”
“We have this lofty statement of ‘Become the best student learning experience in America.’ But what does that mean?” said George. “We need to stop being a jack of all trades.”
Candidates were asked what they’d like to be their legacy in Student Senate, what direction they see the university in four years and what they plan to be their first course of action if elected.
Henderson expressed that he would advocate for student trustee voting rights and open Budget Planning Council meetings, as students’ money is what mainly funds the university. Though he said he could not guarantee these things, Henderson said he would fight for them.
“We want student interests to always be represented,” said Henderson. “The way to do that is making sure Senators are always going to their constituents.” Henderson said that in his short time in Student Senate, he has always gone to his constituents before taking a stand on an issue. “If we listen to students more often, we are going to be more responsive.”
“It’s about innovating the entire solution,” said Koehling. He stated that his goals for Student Senate are to bring in more innovative programs and events, such as University Programming Council and business fraternities, while encouraging more participation from the general student body. Koehling said he would collaborate with other student organization to bring in more attendance to their events.
“… [students] want Student Senate to be more than just a campaign,” said Koehling. “Students want to see Senate doing programs that help them out during the school year, not just the 30 days of campaign season.”
George said he believes Senate, for a large part of its history, has been a “reactive body,” where Senate members only respond to student issues after they’ve arisen, instead of taking initiative. He said he would like to see Senate become a more proactive body.
“I don’t necessarily agree that the students are being fully represented,” said George.
The debate seemed to lack the personal and controversial jabs of the 2011 election, and the rebuttals remained fairly free of any nasty remarks. George did, however, criticize Koehling’s statement that Student Senate is a hobby, when asked why he decided to run for election. Koehling quickly pointed out that he regarded Senate as a hobby because he loves the work he does.
Candidates closed in a similar fashion to their opening statements, reiterating why they felt they deserved the vote.
Debates for ticket executives will be occurring within the next few weeks and students can vote for their candidate on May 17. Election winners will be announced May 17 in the Baker Student Center first floor lounge.Share