Education VOICE, FUSS square off in first Student Senate Presidential debate By The New Political Posted on April 1, 2013 6 min read 0 0 375 Ohio University Student Senate Presidential candidates squared off in the first Presidential debate of the 2013 Student Senate Party election season Monday evening in Baker Center’s Bobcat Student Lounge. In the debate, the candidates discussed issues affecting Ohio University, with a focus on the role of student senate in being an arbiter between the students and the school administration. Ongoing issues like the proposed guaranteed tuition model and impending tuition hike dominated much of the conversation. In their opening statements, the candidates outlined their philosophy on what they thought were the major challenges affecting the University. Matthew Farmer, current president of the Resident’s Action Council and FUSS party presidential candidate, focused on broadening the role of senate. “A lot of students don’t care about student senate. We’ve been reelecting [the] same core of students year after year. We need a change,” Farmer Said. Farmer referred to senate as a “suggestion box” government, saying that the impending risks of the guaranteed tuition model and subsequent tuition hikes were great. VOICE candidate Nick Southall began his remarks by focusing on viable and feasible plans for improving senate. He said that the core team of leaders that Farmer criticized are a vital part of his party’s success. “I believe we need this core of leaders to pass legislation and get things done next year. We know how to get things passed. We have the experience to get things passed,” Southall said. With regards to the guaranteed tuition being pursued by administrators, Southall said that he and his party did not yet have enough information to take a direct stand on the issue. Farmer and his running mate Jacob Chaffin have been public opponents of the model. Farmer criticized the election cycles of senate for never electing any students from outside the body, saying that it denied the body fresh perspectives. Southall responded by saying that fresh faces were added every year to the senate body, and that many of them eventually became executives. A major topic of discussion among the candidates was outreach to students. When asked what the most important part of their party’s platform was, Farmer said it was including students in the governance of Ohio University. “It comes down to pursuing shared governance for students. I think that there are some parts of their platform that don’t accomplish this,” Farmer said. Farmer said one major item in this push was further pursuing the earning of Ohio University student trustees the right to vote on the Board of Trustees, a measure that both candidates agreed on. Southall criticized Farmer’s outreach to students, saying that if Farmer wanted increased dialogue with students, he should increase FUSS’s presence by tabling and talking to students to garner support. VOICE has been selling shirts and campaigning outside of Baker University Center since the beginning of the campaign. “We need to stand with the right people before with the right issues,” said Southall. Southall said VOICE would pursue student organization liaisons to increase senate’s presence amongst students. Farmer criticized this argument, saying that this has been attempted in previous years to no particular success. “Many ideas are recycled each year. Each year we say reaching out [to] organizations is a priority. Why hasn’t that been done in the past?” Farmer said. Southall attested that his party’s platform included both ambitions and plans for achieving those goals. “We [Farmer and Southall] both have lofty ideals, but the difference is that we [VOICE] have plans for each of our bullet points,” Southall said. More debates are planned to be held in the weeks leading up to the student senate election on April 18.