The first Temple Student Government (TSG) presidential debate was presented on April 2, at 5 p.m. on Facebook Live.
Chief judge of TSG’s ethics board, Rofiat Oseni, hosted the debate.
Each candidate was given two minutes for opening and closing statements, one minute and thirty seconds per question, and a 30-second rebuttal.
During their opening statements, Litsinger explained BloomTU’s mission and their three pillars: elevate, thrive and empower.
Crespo of ListenTU spoke about how COVID-19 effects himself and the Temple community, focusing on this issue for most of the opening statement. He then added an explanation of their three pillars: engage, enact and unify.
The debate continued into the question portion, starting with their stances regarding university expansion, focusing on the stadium.
BloomTU and ListenTU both oppose the stadium, with Litsinger bringing up points of noise pollution and gentrification, saying the stadium is “in no way…beneficial to the community.” Crespo added that even though ListenTU is stadium-opposed, emphasized that it has already been approved by Temple, and would have a plan to utilize the arena for “possible community uses.”
Moving on, the two candidates were asked what primary issues they would want the local, state, and the federal government to address.
BloomTU explained how they would work with the local office to have an on-campus polling location. He added how most students don’t know where to vote or are too busy to go. He added that “the ball is already rolling,” with the current administration getting the initiative started, but says he will make sure he continues the initiative.
ListenTU focused on issues concerning accommodations for students affected by COVID-19, saying “we can’t focus on other issues” until things like eviction freezes and accommodating people who pay rent are handled.
Continuing with the topic of COVID-19, both candidates said if they were president as the issue continues into the next year, they would be much more transparent with updates, saying even if they didn’t know what was going on, they would make sure as little as possible is left behind the scenes.
If COVID-19 still continues to affect students into next semester, BloomTU and ListenTU would want to focus on giving students food and housing and make sure they are aware of external resources. ListenTU added they would work to give students free aid and legal services. BloomTU adding they would make sure if online classes continue, to make sure every student has accessibility, keeping people living in different time zones in mind.
The conversation continued into discussing the monthly town hall meetings.
If elected, BloomTU would maintain the monthly town hall meetings, saying they have been effective in directly engaging with students.
ListenTU disagreed, saying they would make the town halls bi-weekly, saying it would be more effective and engaging.
On the issue of Parliament participation, ListenTU says that Parliament doesn’t feel empowered or trained enough to be effective. They would want to make sure Parliament is trained properly and given an Instagram account to recruit and fill the over 30 seats, something that has never been done since Parliament’s implementation, Crespo said.
BloomTU would push for no Parliament reform, saying they were still running successfully, passing to partially reimburse students and calling for election days to be a day off from school.
Sexual assault awareness
Moving on to the issue of sexual assault on campus. BloomTU would push for bars around campus, such as Maxi’s and Draught Horse, to be Safe Bar Certified, which would have the staff be trained on recognizing harassment and ensuring people can be taken home safely, which Litsinger said is “something that will really make people feel a lot more safe on campus.” He added that the administration would work on continuing a relationship with Women Organized Against Rape (WOAR).
ListenTU agreed in working with WOAR, in addition to continuing sexual assault awareness week programs and to continue Walk TU, the annual walk to end sexual violence.
BloomTU also agreed to continue Walk TU, and added that the initiative to give bars the Safe Bar Certifications will be a proactive measure into reducing sexual assaults on and near campus, rather than “dealing with it after it happens.”
On the topic of inclusivity at Temple, BloomTU wants to push for at least one member of every organization on campus to be Safe Zone trained and continue the multicultural caucuses, and speak with student organizations at the caucuses on consulting with them about certain issues.
ListenTU would want to promote multicultural fraternities and sororities, along with continuing to collaborate and promote multicultural galas.
On another note of inclusivity, BloomTU, if elected, would create a Director of Accessibility role and ensure all buildings on campus are ADA accessible.
ListenTU would make sure to collaborate with DRS and speak with students directly affected by the need for accessibility on campus.
On the inclusion of diverse religions, ListenTU has the initiative to create a prayer space specifically focused on those of non-Christian faith, particularly for Muslims to have a prayer space.
Crespo is a resident assistant and got the idea for the initiative after one of his residents told him they had to go to Ambler campus to have a proper prayer space.
Litsinger then added that it is important that all religions feel welcomed in any prayer space. BloomTU also has an initiative stating to provide permanent on-campus prayer spaces.
Crespo rebutted, saying “As a Christian, I am aware a lot of students have places to go. This is why we are catering to non-Christian students because they have been most affected.”
On the inclusivity of the LGBTQIA community, BloomTU would work toward implementing gender-neutral bathrooms, the inclusion of preferred pronouns and names on TUID’s and an LGBTQIA Living Learning Community (LLC).
Crespo opposed the idea of an LGBTQIA LLC, calling the idea “modern segregation.”
With both platforms having many ideas, BloomTU would implement initiative trackers throughout the year, making sure “we are also following through with our promises.”
ListenTU emphasized that they will execute their initiatives within the 2020-21 school year, saying “we aren’t making initiatives that we can’t be held accountable for.”
On the topic of health resources on campus, ListenTU would work to implement a 24-hour student-run hotline if those who are in need of counseling services but cannot get an appointment at Tuttleman Counseling Services can turn to. Crespo said the hotline would be voluntarily run by graduate students. Crespo believes this program would be beneficial for students because it’s more personal to talk to a fellow student. He added that he would work on collaborating with a therapist who has trained Temple student interns to implement this initiative. Crespo added that he has not looked into the legality of this initiative as of yet.
BloomTU said the underfunding of Tuttleman is something they would work to combat, adding that creating the hotline would not be the best idea given the resources we already have are underfunded, especially when there are other hotlines that already exist, Litsinger said.
Moving on, the topic of climate change and community clean-ups was next up for debate.
One of BloomTU’s initiatives is for fossil fuel divestment, asking Temple to re-invest in carbon-free energy, which could further their investment, adding “contributing to climate change knows no boundaries.”
One of ListenTU’s initiatives is for voluntary neighborhood clean-ups, asking student organizations to clean up around campus and ask for off-campus housing units to participate as well. Crespo added that he would work to get the block captains’ contact information to make sure they are held accountable.
In their closing statements, BloomTU emphasized to work on an in-person graduate ceremony and reiterated their platform, with the opposition of the stadium on or around Temple’s campus, continuing to collaborate with the community, improve sexual assault resources and expand LGBTQIA resources like gender-inclusive bathrooms.
ListenTU emphasized that “you don’t have to be of a specific background to make a difference,” and encouraged the representation of the diverse student body. Crespo added that he would continue building relationships with the community, improving mental health resources such as the 24-hour hotline, the implementation of a scholarship and free legal aid.
The second presidential debate will be on April 13. Voting begins on April 14 and ends April 15.