SA Presidential, Vice Presidential and Comptroller Candidates Debate

Three teams of presidential and vice presidential candidates debated at the Student Association’s Monday night debate.

Source: SA presidential and vice presidential candidates debate sexual assault and diversity | The Daily Orange – The Independent Student Newspaper of Syracuse, New York

The presidential and vice presidential candidates for the Student Association’s 60th session covered a wide range of topics at Monday night’s SA debate, from sexual assault prevention to improving diversity and inclusion at Syracuse University.

The candidate pairs in the debate included Eric Evangelista and Joyce LaLonde; Charlie Mastoloni and Jessica Brosofsky; and Andrew Brendel and Tom Duszkiewicz. They squared off for an hour inside Stolkin Auditorium, discussing the ideas they plan to implement if elected. Brendel and Duszkiewicz had not made an official announcement for their campaign before the debate.

At the start of the debate, the candidates were asked what initiative they will view as the most important for them to accomplish while in office.

Evangelista said he and LaLonde would work to make the campus a safer place for students, in part by investing $500,000 in a surveillance camera system. LaLonde added that improving safety extends to improving access to resources on campus, such as mental health care.

Mastoloni didn’t offer a specific initiative but, stressing the key component of his and Brosofsky’s campaign, said he hopes to listen to SU students and garner feedback from them in making decisions.

“That’s what Student Association should be about,” he said. “It’s an association. It’s not a government.”

Brendel said the primary goal of his campaign would be to reduce the financial burden on students.

That would include an attempt to get textbook prices reduced to an amount closer to the prices that the SU Bookstore pays for the textbooks, Brendel said.

“Just doing that alone would take away some of that financial burden,” he said.

One of the night’s few contentious moments came roughly 20 minutes into the debate, when LaLonde and Mastoloni disagreed over the issue of diversity and inclusion at SU and how it should be addressed by the next SA president and vice president.

“I don’t like the idea of calling the lack of diversity a problem,” Mastoloni said, before adding that he would look to expand upon the recommendations outlined in thereport released last week by the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion.

Moments later, LaLonde quipped back and said that the lack of diversity is a problem, adding that she and Evangelista would attempt to improve diversity in part by integrating the SU community with the surrounding Syracuse community.

That dispute came just minutes after the candidates debated how they believe SU can better address the issue of sexual violence on campus.

Duszkiewicz, Brendel’s running mate, cited events such as United States Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to campus during the “It’s On Us” week as evidence that SU is fighting back against sexual violence. But, without outlining a concrete plan, he added that SU “needs to go a step further.”

Brosofsky said she’s happy that SU has embraced the “It’s On Us” campaign, but added that she and Mastoloni would also work to ensure that leaders of all campus groups and organizations be required to participate in training under New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” sexual assault legislation.

LaLonde agreed with Brosofsky and Duszkiewicz that SU is taking some of the right steps in addressing sexual assault.

“Syracuse is listening. We’re having a conversation,” she said. “But it’s not enough.”

LaLonde proposed moving the Counseling Center from frat row to a more visible place on campus and using the first-year forum to help students better understand the resources that are available to them on campus.

Evangelista and LaLonde also said they would build upon the initiatives that current SA President Aysha Seedat and Vice President Jane Hong have worked on, such as ensuring that Hong’s proposed bike-sharing program gets implemented.

But the other pairs of candidates said they would look to reform SA, with each saying they believe that the association doesn’t currently do enough to listen to SU students.

Evangelista, a junior, is currently the recorder for SA, while LaLonde has no experience in SA. Mastoloni and Brosofsky have each previously served in the association — Mastoloni on the Student Life Committee and Brosofsky on the Board of Elections and Membership — but neither is currently a member.

Neither Brendel nor Duszkiewicz have previously served in SA.