Five candidates from the UNITE ticket and two from the Impact ticket went head-to-head Monday in Walter Hall over what they would do if elected as Student Senate senators at-large.
Each of the candidates gave answers to five questions about the future of Ohio University and how they would help shape it.
Sarah Pinter, Nicole Kromalic, Carolyn Miller, Nicole Schneider and Courtlen Vizzuso represented the UNITE ticket, while Keyarah Newton and Marcus J. Cole represented the Impact ticket.
The candidates were first asked what they thought was the biggest challenge facing students and how they would work to address the issue. The UNITE candidates said lack of awareness, sexual assault, diversity and inclusion, physical accessibility and a lack of communication between students, senate and administration were the top issues.
“There’s no real system for students to go directly to administrators about things,” Miller said. “On our platform, we do something for that. We want to set up connections between students and the administration.”
Newton and Cole from the Impact ticket said diversity and inclusion are the biggest issues campus faces and that Impact would make spaces for students to be able to talk about issues with someone who is trained to help them.
The candidates from the UNITE ticket said that to engage with students, they would be committed to getting out of the office and hearing what students have to say. They want to improve lines of communication by creating a Student Senate public relations team and streamlining email addresses.
Impact candidates said they want to reach out to the student body as a whole. They suggested going to student organizations’ meetings to become a “friendly face” in order to understand what they want from the Senate.
With student safety being a big concern for the candidates, they were each asked what plan they would have for increasing the well-being of students next school year.
Many of the candidates suggested better lighting on campus, increased blue lights and increased student services for students who feel their safety is threatened. Late night transportation loops or online counseling resources would also be provided.
Pinter said the UNITE ticket wants to be not only defensive but also preventative toward student-safety issues and include an anonymous bystander reporting process. Miller followed up with that idea, saying education needs to begin for students at Bobcat Student Orientation.
The candidates were also asked how they would increase Student Senate’s ability to respond to student needs and concerns, leaving many of them to say they would make sure student voices would be heard.
Newton and Cole said it is important to develop person-to-person communication that would allow students needs to be heard.
“We are all college students, we all have very busy lives,” Cole said. “Having a lot of office hours, drop boxes around campus where students can place concerns or questions they might have from Baker to Copeland, or wherever they might be. We need to make sure Senate is always around, everywhere.”
The UNITE ticket stressed their plans to be more accessible to students and hold senators accountable by supporting the judicial panel that was passed this year. Schneider said she also wants an anonymous platform for students to let Student Senate know their individual concerns.
Lastly, candidates were asked what they would look for in a new university president, as President McDavis announced his retirement effective June 30, 2017. Almost all of the candidates said they want a president who will be heavily involved with students and will care about their needs.
However, Vizzuso differed from most students and said he thinks the president should have a good connection with the faculty.
“While everyone was right with the students, I wouldn’t want to hear any of my professors talking badly of the president because that makes the whole university look bad,” Vizzuso said.
In closing statements, members of each ticket encouraged students to continue to educate themselves on their ticket’s platform and vote to “UNITE campus” or “make an Impact.”