Student government executive ticket debate outlines issues, confirms support from students

The University of Miami Student Government held its annual executive ticket debate Feb. 13. Members of the two tickets, “Empower U” and “The Switch Up,” presented their platforms.

They also explained specific initiatives that deal with issues such as mental health, student employment and academics.

The debate, moderated by The Miami Hurricane Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Goddard, took place in the UC Lower Lounge in front of a crowd of students Wednesday night. Throughout the event, both tickets explained their campaigns and said they will continue to push for changes even if they are not elected as the leaders of the student government.

The “The Switch Up” ticket includes presidential candidate Dewayne Washington, vice presidential candidate Justin Grauer and treasurer candidate Julia Lynch, who was on her way to an interview in New York and therefore absent from the debate.

Washington said his ticket’s main focus is on creating a student government that represents all UM students.

Washington also said he plans to raise the minimum wage to $10 for student employees because he feels that too many students are unable to make ends meet.

Additionally, he said he hopes to make campus more secure by creating a new gate on Dickinson Dr. similar to the one on Stanford Dr. The goal of this project is to prevent freshman from walking from the gate to their dorms late at night.

The “Empower U” ticket includes presidential candidate Emily Gossett, vice-presidential candidate Millie Chokshi and treasurer candidate Jason Kaplan.

These candidates discussed improving mental health resources for students by extending the hours of the counseling center, creating an online appointment system and establishing an emergency absence system for mental health similar to the one that exists for physical illnesses.

Additionally, Gossett detailed her ticket’s pre-career initiative, which will include the implementation of an alumni job fair during homecoming week. Alumni and students will be “able to connect one on one,” she said.

The debate was intended to introduce the candidates and provide students with the information needed to make an informed voting decision. The candidates’ experience levels was a frequent point of discussion.

“What really stood out to me was what ‘The Switch Up’ was trying to bring to student government by having candidates that can truly relate to the student body and who weren’t groomed by student government,” said Choudhary.

But member of student government and sophomore Randy Fitzgerald said he appreciated that the “Empower U” candidates have a long list of student government experience.

“Where others try to divide, the student leaders on the ‘Empower U’ ticket get results that unite us.”

However, although some students said the event helped them decide which ticket had their vote, other students said they were disappointed with the style of the debate.

“I thought the debate was not much of a debate,” said senior Viraj Kulhari. “It was more so a place for candidates to answer already established questions. I really wish they also would’ve opened up the debate for question and answer.”