Walter 235 does not look like an average Ohio University classroom. The U of desks and chairs rises up to create stands for the last debate of the 2017-18 Student Senate elections. Three sets of executive candidates took the floor, answering questions submitted by students and audience members.
The debate began calmly, but at times the candidates became heated, while pointed comments flew during rebuttals.
When discussing whether the candidates thought Student Senate experience is needed to hold a position, candidates from Fight kept true to their platform by saying it is not needed, and throwing off the cycle of “the same people being elected” is preferred.
“We’re running to be consultants, running to change Senate from the organization that has 78 pages of rules and regulations that no one cares about to something people get fired up about,” said David Parkhill, Fight presidential candidate. “This is all so fake. This campaign — when it’s over — who cares if the financial report was filed correctly. People aren’t going to run because they don’t want to get into stuff like this.”
The other two tickets disagreed. Green Light presidential candidate Landen Lama responded with direct comments.
“Green Light thinks experience is essential for the success of student body,” Lama said. “But the fresh ideas are also important.”
Jordan Kelley, Voice presidential candidate, responded to Lama’s statement by citing former Senate President Megan Marzec’s lack of prior experience. Marzec, who was president in 2014, gained national attention over an ALS ice bucket challenge controversy.
“I believe she was well intended when she came here with the group she came in with; she really wanted to make Student Senate accessible to the students, much like Fight,” Kelley said. “However, they had no idea what they were doing when they came in. Because of that, they couldn’t really make real change on campus.”
He also pointed out that Student Senate is governed by the Ohio University Judicial Panel, and violations of the rules and procedures could result in impeachment.
One question from the Judicial Panel asked about the Ohio University Athletics Department expenses. Voice’s treasurer candidate, Dane Hudson, denounced the cost.
“Ohio State is the dominant athletic department in the state, and we need to realize that spending $18 million dollars of student’s money to achieve that goal isn’t an effective use of that,” he said.
However, Fight’s treasurer candidate, Caleb Cline, argued for athletics after seeking further clarification on the question. Cline asked if the $18 million subsidy was the entire budget.
“Athletics is important to our school spirit and morale. Supporting with the extra subsidy is a huge part of what we will look into of where we can cut money,” Cline said. “We need to make sure we do know what that money is used for. If it’s for scholarships — athletics scholarships are important for our students.”
Lama said it was a revenue builder.
“The main thing with the athletics department is that it is our main revenue builder for the university. It is our marketing apparatus, it brings in people for our enrollment numbers,” Lama said. “But the money we give the athletics should not increase.”
Hudson brought in a few facts for a rebuttal, refuting Lama’s claim.
“The athletic department needs that subsidy because it can’t pay for itself. For clarity, there are only 26 colleges since 2015 who have made money from their athletics department, and OU is not one of them.”
An NCAA study from 2015 shows that only 24 Football Bowl Subdivision schools generated more revenue than they spent in 2014.