Two slates competing in the Boston University Student Government Executive Board elections battled in a debate Thursday night, tackling issues such as student safety, transparency within student government and legitimizing the role of student representatives.
TrueBU and Push to Start, the two competing slates, emphasized the importance of integrating students in the SG decision-making process. The slates also discussed platform issues they had in common, such as reform of the Student Activities Office.
The slates were challenged to explain why they were qualified to represent the student body.
College of Fine Arts sophomore Alexander Golob, the TrueBU candidate running for student body president, pointed to the capability of the individuals working on TrueBU’s campaign.
“We have such exemplary people — and it’s not just our slate, it’s our team,” said Golob, currently the CFA class president.
Members of BU’s Push to Start platform responded to the same question by mentioning the diverse backgrounds of each candidate and the benefit of a slate containing both SG incumbents and outsiders.
College of Arts and Sciences junior Joe Ferme, BU’s Push to Start’s candidate for executive vice president, said he would bring a new perspective to the decision-making table because he has never served in student government.
“Having a fresh face can help solve issues that have been repetitive issues in the past,” he said.
Members of TrueBU said they would attempt to re-establish a student support network for mental health services as well as institute a grant system for funding student groups and startups if elected.
BU’s Push to Start candidates said they aimed to identify how tuition is utilized through conversations with BU administration and to expand career resources for international students.
Both slates touched on the issue of student safety. BU’s Push to Start candidates said they would cooperate with the BU Police Department to expand the security escort service to students living off campus. Candidates from TrueBU said they aimed to establish safe havens by developing an app for students to locate each other during late night hours.
CAS sophomore Richa Kaul, the current SG executive vice president and the presidential candidate for BU’s Push to Start, said the slate was pleased with its performance in the debate.
“We were all really happy to have the chance to challenge their [TrueBU’s] platform and have our platform challenged by them,” she said. “We were able to show everyone … that we know how to get things done, that we have those connections, that experience.”
Golob said he was confident TrueBU conveyed its core messages in the debate.
“We had a very stimulating conversation where we really talked about issues such as building a community and empowering students,” he said. “Our experience shows legitimacy. We need to create a culture and spirit that fosters community.”
Members of both slates said though the format of a debate is not conducive to exploring every issue, students can better understand their platforms through the slates’ social media campaigns.
Students who attended the debate voiced concerns about issues with Student Health Services, financial aid reform and the rising cost of tuition.
Austin Kruger, a College of General Studies sophomore, said he supports BU’s Push to Start due in part to the team’s experience.
“Richa Kaul really understood the whole ideas behind tuition transparency,” said Kruger, CGS class president. “I feel like she’s been fighting for that for a year after listening to what she just said.”
CAS freshman Hamilton Millwee, a senior staffer for the TrueBU campaign, said he supported TrueBU because of their approach to including the student body in SG decisions.
“They gave better specifics and they illustrated how there was a change that needed to happen in student government,” he said. “They continually talked about the community that needs to be fostered, and that’s definitely how to start.”
Caley Van Brunt, a CAS junior, said the debate enabled her to better understand the slates’ policies and become familiar with their members.
“I gained some knowledge on what both slates stand for, and it also allowed you to see the candidates’ personalities,” Van Brunt said. “I don’t think it’s a personality contest or anything like that, but it’s great to see how passionate they are about the issues.”