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UPUA Candidates Debate Student Life Before Wednesday Elections

The UPUA held its final executive debate Monday night, leaving only Wednesday night’s election to determine the fate of the four executive tickets. Throughout the candid conversation, candidates touched on a variety of topics, most centering around student life. The session was moderated by Onward State Managing Editor Zach Berger and The Daily Collegian’s Editor-In-Chief Sam Janesch.

The debate session began with some brief opening statements from the candidates, who thanked supporters and reiterated the main focal points of each ticket’s platform. Berger asked a series of questions to begin, each followed by a rebuttal session. Candidates also answered a number of questions sent in by students following along via Twitter.

The first question struck a personal note, asking candidates what they thought would be their biggest challenges as Penn State’s student body president.

Shannon Rafferty stated that her biggest hurdle would be “getting a full feel of what Penn State students want,” and said that student leaders can receive mixed messages from different sets of students. Emily McDonald then highlighted student apathy as her biggest potential hurdle.

“There are so many students involved on campus,” McDonald said. “But how do you address those students that aren’t coming to your meetings, that aren’t bringing ideas to you?” McDonald’s vice presidential candidate Terry Ford agreed with Rafferty. He acknowledged that it can be difficult to gauge the pulse of the student body, but reiterated the ticket’s connections could “help mitigate those problems.”

The tickets led by Hamsa Fayed and Ryan Belz highlighted outreach as something they’d like to improve upon.

The ensuing question touched on the recent Kappa Delta Rho allegations, a polarizing issue since it struck campus three weeks ago. Candidates were asked how they would like to see the Greek system change as a result of the task force implemented by Eric Barron to re-evaluate Greek life, if at all, which elicited differing responses amongst the candidates.

All tickets endorsed Barron’s decision to examine Greek life at Penn State, while also necessitating that there be “UPUA opinions” on the task force, as McDonald phrased it. Belz suggested that the task force could serve as a model for other universities that have dealt with a host of issues relating to Greek life in recent months.

“We’re not the only university in the recent past that has had issues with certain organizations dealing with fraternities and sororities,” he said.

While the candidates did not hesitate to question each other on certain topics, all tickets agreed that they would work with CAPS more closely to maximize its effectiveness when discussing mental health, signaling that it would be one of their biggest focal points.

Overall, the candidates gave well-informed, thoughtful responses to the questions asked, and left it all on the table as election day looms on the horizon. They recognized the importance of the issues pertaining to student life, and made sure to reiterate their importance in regards to their respective plans going forward.

Remember to go out and exercise your right as a student by casting your vote in the 2015 UPUA elections on Wednesday.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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