The six student body presidential candidates faced off during their second, and final, debate on Feb. 22, in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater. This time, questions were more focused and rebuttals were allowed.
Although scheduled for 6 p.m. the debate was stalled until 6:32 p.m. due to a missing candidate. Assured that he would arrive soon, the five present candidates began their introductions.
Christopher Cano hurried in at 6:38 p.m., just in time to give his.
“I’m running to be your president,” Cano said, lifting up his foot to reveal his deteriorating shoe, “literally.”
After the debate, Cano said he was meeting with student organizations. “I worked til the last possible minute. Time is the one resource we cannot get more of.”
Much of the night was spent reiterating and clarifying stands and ideas mentioned during the first debate.
Sarah Pollei again put an emphasis on sustainability, Brian Goff on being there for the students, Christina Hughes on education, Alan Ethington on his advocacy for an on campus football stadium, Cano on his experience in state government and Omar Rodriguez on transparency and traditions.
Rodriguez said that when freshman come in, they come in with fervor. “We want to instill that into our transfer students,” he said.
Rodriguez said he can do that with his plan to have a speaker system installed into MSC, so that every day at noon the alma mater will play.
“When it comes to transfer students,” Pollei said, “they don’t get that experience of orientation.”
As an Orientation Team Leader, Pollei said she and others make sure freshman love USF by the time they leave orientation and that transfer students should have the opportunity for a similar event. “We need to recognize the population as a whole,” she said.
Goff said he would begin working on a traditions competition as soon as he is elected, so the tradition chosen by the students could be implemented by this fall. When questioned where the funds for this competition would come from, Goff said, “We’d hypothetically draw money from existing funds.”
The candidates also addressed parking this time. Goff, Ethington and Rodriguez all said the key to solving parking frustration is communication.
Goff said this year the Laurel Drive Parking Facility lost two floors of student parking spaces due to the lack of use. To prevent this, he said communicating with students to let them know of alternative parking spaces is necessary.
“It’s not possible for us to fix parking,” Rodriquez said. “It’s about managing your own time and your own life.”
When the floor opened to the audience, a student asked Ethington how his plans for a stadium would affect parking.
Ethington said Greek Village could be used as extra parking.
“Greek life is somewhat limited due to the size of houses,” Ethington said. He said Greek should invest in larger houses off campus in order to accommodate more people, like at other universities.
Rodriguez said he is “totally against getting rid of on campus Greek Village.” He said those students are some of the most involved and many functions are held there.
About the building of a football stadium on campus, Cano said, “Alan, are you out of your mind?”
Cano said the building of a football stadium on campus would hurt USF’s athletics and create headaches. “Let’s play in a world class stadium that’s already there,” he said.
Ethington declined to respond.
“Some people say, ‘You’re too hard on the candidates,’” Cano said. “But this is a debate.”
Pollei does not have experience inside Student Government, like Ethington and Cano, but has a lot of experience with balancing academics, co-curricular activities and everything else she does on campus. “I think we [Pollei and her running mate] pretty much have that in check.”
Since summer of last year, Pollei has been researching SG. “I never go into anything blind,” Pollei said. She added she wouldn’t walk into something if she didn’t feel confident.
A senator for the College of Business, member of the Judiciary and Ethics Committee and Chairwoman of the Impeachment Committee, Hughes has been active within SG.
Every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hughes said she is at the A&S Recommendation Committee meeting. “I’ve been doing it every Friday, and if I’m president I can keep doing it every Friday,” she said.
During the last debate, Cano stated he and his running mate G. Paul McCreary would both take 90 percent pay cuts. Tonight, when asked who would be willing to take a 50 percent cut, Cano was the only one to raise his hand.
Goff and Ethington both said that because they have been financially independent since 18, it would not be feasible for them to take the cut.
Ethington said that half pay would be well under minimum wage at $5.25 an hour, which would not be enough for him live off of.
“I would have to take a second or third part time job,” Goff said. In doing so, he said, he wouldn’t be able to devote enough time as president.
Cano said it’s about what’s right for the students. He also said USF needs someone to vouch for them in Tallahassee. “You need a bulldog in Tallahassee, and I’m him,” Cano said. “Rah!”
After the debate, the candidates and most of the audience moved to MSC Ballroom C for the reception, catered by Lee Roy Selmon’s. Students were able to snack on wings and speak one on one with the candidates.