Candidates discuss involvement, specialty seats

Steven Brittain

Discussion about off-campus student involvement in the university, expanded opportunities for minority students and the future of CyRide dominated the second Government of the Student Body executive-slate debate Wednesday morning.Wendell Mosby, member of the GSB election commission, moderated the debate. Mosby, senior in apparel merchandising, design and production, said the debate was not geared to focus on the candidates’ platforms but how they would address specific concerns of the student body.To open the debate, Mosby asked the candidates what they would do to make off-campus students feel more included in on-campus activities.The presidential and vice-presidential tandem of Jeff Mayes, junior in animal science, and Stephanie Vinton, sophomore in public service and administration in agriculture, said off-campus students have to want to get involved.”GSB isn’t holding the off-campus students back,” Mayes said. “These students can start small with departmental clubs and work up to more involvement.”The other three pairings of Andy Tofilon and Charlie Johnson, Bing Howell and Zach Eakman and Matt Welk and Shelley Smith, said GSB needs to take steps to reach out.”You shouldn’t be expected to go to GSB,” said Tofilon, junior in journalism and mass communication. “GSB should come to you.”Howell, junior in management information systems, said students need to be shown first-hand exactly what they can do to get involved. Howell and Eakman, sophomore in psychology, have proposed the formation of a group called Your Voice. Your Voice would be a committee consisting of 20-30 people who would attend various group meetings and hold monthly forums to hear the worries, concerns and needs of student groups.Welk, junior in exercise and sport science, and Smith, junior in animal science, said cooperation is the key. “The executives need to be willing to cooperate with other groups,” Welk said. “Executives need to trust the senators to bring the input of the off-campus students to back to them.”Candidates were also asked to address the needs of minority groups on campus and the necessity for specialty seats on the GSB senate.Johnson, junior in political science, said it is important for GSB to have the specialty seats because everybody deserves equal representation. “I really encourage the voters to vote against the amendment to remove specialty seats from the senate,” he said. “It would be harmful to this campus if we were to lose the voices of those students.”Welk and Smith also said they are in favor of retaining the GSB specialty seats. “The mutual benefit that people receive from diversity is immeasurable,” Welk said. “It is our willingness to learn from each other that makes us so important to one another.”Mosby also introduced a question concerning the future of CyRide and the potential for an increase in student fees if the fare-free referendum passes.Mayes and Vinton said they are opposed to the referendum, because they don’t think it’s fair to students who don’t use the CyRide service. Mayes said the plan is “big business working against the students.”The other three tandems supported a fare-free CyRide, and each of these three groups said the referendum could turn CyRide into a greater convenience for the students.Tofilon said the fees are under student control.”Where that money goes, is where we want it to go,” he said. “It just makes sense for students to have better routes, more buses and an overall better service.”