The Great Debaters

Kelly Metz and Kelly Metz

Undergraduate Student Government presidential and vice presidential candidates, clad in suits and ties, stood in front of over 70 students ready to debate the issues and platforms for the 2009-10 school year last night. Rob Emmelhainz, with running mate Enoch Wu, and Sundeep Mutgi, with running mate Kevin Basch, came prepared with a five-minute opening statement, in which they listed their platforms and told last night’s crowd in 111 Olscamp why they would be best for the executive USG seats. ‘We are very familiar with USG and the transition would be almost non-existent, so we are ready to hit the ground running and work on tangible issues when we’re elected,’ Mutgi said. ‘We need to be a representative of the students both on and off campus and make sure the student voices are heard,’ Emmelhainz said. The candidates were each given two minutes to answer questions posed by moderators Lindy Bobbitt and Stephanie Zeller of the Procedures and Appeals branch of USG and Kyle Reynolds of The BG News. Emmelhainz and Wu’ were very concerned with the student voice being effectively communicated to USG senators and executive board. ‘The student voice should be the focus of USG in general and it’s when that voice is heard when we can get things done through the administration,’ Emmelhainz said. ‘Any decision that might go through USG should go to students first.’ ‘ They also noted the student voice when faced with the question ‘What challenges do you think students will be faced with next year and how do you go about confronting them?’ ‘A lot of money goes into the University and it should be up to the student voice to be represented and say where it’s going,’ Wu said. ‘Students are represented,’ Basch said. ‘It’s called USG. You either voted or didn’t vote to make sure we voice our opinions and represent you. We need to make sure students are motivated on all the issues because the only time they are up in arms is on the big ticket issues.’ Emmelhainz said students weren’t effectively informed about the Stroh Center ‘shy;- something that should have been from the start. Mutgi agreed he would have marketed more when the Stroh Center debate first appeared on the USG floor, but stands by how USG handled the situation. ‘We could have put a couple more senators on the ground floor and done more marketing and asked what students really thought,’ he said. University and community collaboration was another issue both candidates said need worked on because the students make up a large portion of Bowling Green. Mutgi said fireside chats could be held weekly to educate students on the government goings-on and Emmelhainz said placing banners around campus and tri-weekly updates would educate students. ‘We will work out of our pocket to have USG publicized if we have to,’ Emmelhainz said. ‘We can hold events such as The Big Event as seen at Texas A’amp;M to speak to the community through service,’ Mutgi said. ‘We don’t want to hit the student three times a week because they can only hear something so much before they stop listening.’ How the candidates would help increase enrollment and retention rates was the final question before closing remarks, in which both candidates held a firm stance. ‘The Building Dreams Campaign ended in March,’ Wu said. ‘That is good because there is more money for scholarships and those scholarships will bring in students. We need to market that money.’ ‘We need to focus on retaining students,’ Basch said. ‘We need to get them involved in organizations like Greek life, UAO, Dance Marathon and so on so they can bond with people and do more than sit in their dorm room … We need to encourage them to make connections and give them a home here.’ Once closing remarks were over, in which the candidates reiterated their platforms and thanked the audience, some in the audience felt better and more in sync with USG. ‘I wanted to hear what would stay the same and what would change next year and I feel like I did,’ senior Sarah Kersey said. ‘More students showed up this year to the debate because USG did a phenomenal job this past year getting more students informed and interested.’ Junior Caitlin Keelor showed up to the debate to show support for’ her candidate of choice and also to show that she cares about even the smallest issues. ‘It’s important to show up to these things because students are up in hoops and hollers about an issue like the Stroh Center, but they need to be informed and actually take action. USG is about more than just one issue.’