Home Education FUSS, VOICE execs clash over rising tuition in second debate

FUSS, VOICE execs clash over rising tuition in second debate

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In the battle to win the Student Senate chair, the second round of debates took place this Monday in Baker Center between the FUSS and VOICE campaigns.

This week the debates included vice presidential and treasurer candidates from each ticket as well as the presidential hopefuls. Continued questions about the role of student senate and its ability to represent students and their interests were raised, as the opposing parties sparred over their respective qualifications for leading the body. Different philosophies about how to address problems afflicting students like rising tuition costs led to butting heads among the candidates.

In the opening remarks, FUSS presidential candidate Matt Farmer displayed his overall outlook of the role of executives of Student Senate. He said FUSS is looking to transform student senate and that he believes that senate has the potential to accomplish more.

“Student Senate has a lot of potential to be doing great things on campus. We’re focusing on going outside the halls of Walter and interacting with students,” Farmer said.

While praising senate’s programming, Farmer said that FUSS is interested in improving social justice issues, working on preventing the guaranteed tuition hike, and finding students who have issues and working with them.

FUSS vice presidential candidate Jacob Chaffin stressed expanding the role of senate on campus through grassroots efforts to organize and collaborate with students.

“How senate presents itself really goes into to organize itself on campus. We need to look toward a different model of student governance,” Chaffin said.

Chaffin argued that senate had the potential to have much more power than it currently did. He cited the University of Wisconsin, where student senate controls the entirety of the school’s general fund.

VOICE touted their experience in senate as the defining factor for their candidates. Vice presidential candidate Anna Morton said that her experience in observing and being in senate roles have made her stand out as a candidate.

“I see the home senate creates for so many students. It is now my responsibility to take care of our home,” Morton said.

VOICE laid out their experience in working with a large budget such as the SAC fund. VOICE Treasurer Austin LaForest described plans to change the outdated rules of the SAC, which is still on the quarter system. The executives also plan to reach out by increasing professional workshops and make connections with more student organizations.

“I’m running to achieve results in student senate through real, concrete plans,” VOICE presidential candidate Nick Southall said.

VOICE said that FUSS has no hands-on experience with the SAC fund and only has an outside observer’s perspective, a position that FUSS said is actually the strength of their ticket.

The parties discussed the role of the senate within school administration, with VOICE arguing that FUSS and, more specifically, Farmer, were anti-administration. They said that the “shouting” method of raising support against tuition issues has failed to produce results. FUSS argued that senate has been too reactive in its efforts to fight rising tuition, and that a proactive effort was needed on behalf of both students and senate.

A question was then asked to both vice presidential candidates to describe the role of their position as an executive of student senate.

Chaffin responded by saying, “We would have commissioners reevaluate the goals and initiatives of student senate members. Being properly trained senators, they will go out into the community to best learn how to work together for a greater good.”

VOICE emphasized the need to know all rules and have a deep understanding of senate in order to be successful.

“You need to understand how senate works. You can ask me any questions and I’ll have the answer. I have all of these traits. It’s something I’m passionate about,” Morton said.

A topic of contention in the debate was the role of experience in senate and whether or not that made a candidate more or less qualified.

“I would never try to run for a position that I didn’t have any experience in. You need to understand how senate works,” Morton said.

Chaffin challenged the notion that individuals outside senate should not run for executive office within senate, saying that their perspective is necessary.

“Let’s address the idea that kind of implies that nobody should ever run for student government outside those who work in student government. That’s a problem, and we need to address that,” said Chaffin.

“In crafting our platform, we talked to students. Affordability; hate to face it, but higher education costs money. We need to take into consideration other concerns of students,” Morton said. “We can’t look at the future too much.”

Chaffin challenged this notion, saying that the way student senate handles student issues like rising tuition is flawed.

“We look at these things one year at a time too often. We need to be setting things in motion and laying groundwork for the future. We can’t afford a tuition hike and we can’t afford guaranteed tuition,” Chaffin said.

VOICE has maintained that it will not take a position on the proposed guaranteed tuition model until it can determine whether or not the system would be harmful to students, a position FUSS criticizes as being too reactive. FUSS has run on the platform opposing guaranteed tuition, a move that VOICE criticized as being too hasty.

Both parties were asked to talk about two concrete plans each had for implementing their platform. VOICE chose sustainability and diversity and used the example of implementing reusable grocery bags at campus markets to promote green living and creating a green event checklist for easier and more organized programming

FUSS said that their party is focused on bringing more inclusivity to student senate, arguing that a party system gave too much power to one group of incumbent senators, leaving challengers without a supporter base. Farmed said he opposed the two-party system currently in place. They also chose the topic of rape culture and sexual assault on campus as a target, saying they hope to use education to fight these issues within senate.

The student senate election is April 18.

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