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SG presidential candidate debate transcript

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Due to an equipment malfunction Eagle News was unable to provide a video of the debates. We were, however, able to record audio and have transcribed the first half of it here. We will provide the second half as soon as it is available. 

6 p.m. UPDATE FROM THE EDITOR: The debate has been transcribed except for one minute of audio that is missing. The missing audio is represented by ellipses. We will have that final transcription up Feb. 24. We profusely apologize for the delay and we are exceptionally grateful for your continued patience. 

8:23 p.m. UPDATE FROM THE EDITOR: The transcription is now completed. Thank you for your continued patience. 

Two-minute introduction by each party

Tyler Brown: My name is Tyler Brown. I am completing my second year here at FGCU. I am a senior by credit even though this is only my third year of college. Through FGCU and through the glorious opportunities that we have here, I have started over two RSOs − I revamped the Financial Management Association as well as the Business and Entrepreneurs Club here. As well as this is my second term as a Student Government senator and as well as being on the Appropriations Committee this year. I’d really like to just jump right in. I’m really excited about what we have to offer for FGCU in the upcoming year and I’d like to thank everyone again for coming out and I hope you have a great night.

(Applause)

Sarah Beth Scott: Good evening everyone, I am Sarah Beth Scott and I am running to be your vice presidential candidate. I am currently a junior, my major is marketing. I am a member of Phi Mu and I am very passionate about leading and all the things that I am involved in. I’m very excited to be here tonight to learn and to grow more as your vice presidential candidate. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: Next, For the Eagles.

Domenic Volpi: Thank you. Hi everyone, my name is Domenic Volpi, we are For the Eagles party. A little bit about myself is I am a senior here at FGCU I will be coming back for my second degree in accounting. A little bit about me, I was an Orientation Leader for two years, I am involved as a Director of Concerts on the Programming Board, I am a member of Sigma Chi, and I am also the marketing director for the Club Management Association of America. Little bit about our party, it’s a little unconventional. We are students for students. We don’t run on a platform built around two people trying to direct the ship. We believe that it is our campus, your campus, and it should be your voice that should be heard. It’s something that me and Corey have both thought together, we have both planned and infiltrated this year. It’s something that we believe in, it’s something we’re very passionate about, is that your voice should be heard. In the past, your voice has not been heard. And some people dictate where the ship goes and this year we want to change it. We want to move toward a more positive FGCU. We stand for the eagles and we are For the Eagles, so please stop by our table this week, this upcoming week.

(Applause)

Corey Mentzer: My name is Corey Mentzer, I am also a senior here at FGCU. I am getting my degree in bioengineering and I am also picking up a minor in chem next year. I was a past Orientation Leader along with Domenic. I’ve been involved in Housing and Res. Life for three years. I was actually the RA of the Year last year throughout housing. Also on the Programming Board with Dom, I was the Director of Live Entertainment, and I have been heavily involved throughout the University and have made many multiple connections. And I believe what Dom and I are trying to do here is very powerful and we’re really trying to stand for the average student here at FGCU and bring change to Student Government. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. Next we have House Party.

Juan Cubillo: Alright, goodnight everybody. My name is Juan Cubillo. First I want to thank all the candidates sitting before me. It’s been a pleasure running against you so far and it’s been great. I want to thank everybody for having me here a second time as your presidential candidate, so far it has been a lot of fun and we’ll continue to have a lot of fun and a lot of respect. I love FGCU and there is nothing I appreciate more than having an opportunity to represent the student body of FGCU for a second year. I like to say that if the walk is easy, the journey is worth nothing. This job is not easy, it’s not supposed to be. However, I am more than prepared to have a successful year − a second successful year − as the Student Body President of Florida Gulf Coast University.

(Applause)

Kaylyn Glenn: Hello everyone, my name is Kaylyn Glenn and I am running for the vice presidential candidate for the House party. I’m actually a freshman, and you know, a lot of people, I’ve heard a lot of different responses in terms of that and I would say that I’m not your average freshman, I’m pretty involved. I’m the treasurer of the Spearfishing Team, I’m heavily involved in the Food Forest that’s a big passion of mine. I see that as not only an opportunity to promote permaculture but also leadership opportunities and to bring the two together as a whole. I really look forward to potentially being your vice presidential candidate and I actually am also a Coordinator for Sustainability in Student Government and the past few months that I have been involved in that I have learned so much and I look forward to being an investment that you can put in me and you know, continue, being a great leader in the University over the next four years.

(Applause)

Moderator: Now we will be moving directly into individual party questions. Candidates, you have two minutes to respond to each of these questions and will be notified when you have twenty seconds remaining.

So we’re going to start with the Action Party. Miscommunication between the executive and legislative branch can cause rifts throughout student government. How do you plan to foster that relationship?

Brown: I’ll take the question. The main thing that we’ve grown around as a party and as a whole is that we’ve met many times, we’ve talked about how much miscommunications that have happened here as far as the legislative branch. I’ll admit, there have been rifts, there have been times where we haven’t been communicating well. But that is the reason why I’ve built a party the way that I’ve built this one with many strong experienced leaders as well as many strong, and inspired new fresh faces that are gonna come and are gonna inspire even more people as they come back on campus.

Moderator: Thank you. For the Eagles: Neither of you has been a part of student government previously. As candidates seeking election for the first time, what experience on campus do you feel will contribute to this role?

Volpi: Thank you. I feel like not being part of student government before really gives the chance to be a blank canvas. What we are is two people that have been very involved in campus. We’ve been Orientation Leaders, we’ve been RAs, we’ve been part of Programming Board, we’ve been part of different RSOs. So to move up into more of that leader role, to be on the same level as any other student − to be able to relate to every other student − it’s a blank canvas for anybody to come talk to us, for anybody to come and share their ideas. It’s not somebody that has their own visions or has their own goals, it’s more the goals of the students. We are FGCU. It’s your campus, it’s not ours. So we wanna empower students and we wanna have students come to us. We want to be the middle man. And I feel like not being in Student Government before really gives you that chance to. It’s a fresh face, it’s a breath of fresh air and it’s a blank canvas for anyone to really share their ideas with us, to really move forward with a powerful FGCU.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. House Party: this question is directly for Juan. Your current term as student government president has been under a lot of scrutiny. If re-elected, what personal leadership changes would you make, if any?

Cubillo: Well, I wanna say that scrutiny is a harsh word. In any organization that has several different branches and different people working together, there are going to be disagreements, there are going to be times when some type of collaboration is going to be necessary. Sometimes it’s tougher than other times, that’s normal. Now, if elected to a second term, there are some things that I think both ends can do different. I think I definitely, there’s always room for improvement, and I can always do a better job of listening and adapting to other people’s personalities. Everybody has a different way of listening and a different way of speaking, so maybe I need to do a better job of understanding and analyzing other people to see how it is that they best understand the message that is trying to be put across. So on my end, I need to do a better job of working with different personalities and on the Senate’s end I hope that we implement the strongest leaders possible that we have on each of our ballots and those leaders understand the same thing, that I just mentioned, that everybody needs to work together regardless of personalities. And if we can all understand that and we can all work cohesively, than we can improve the quote-unquote scrutiny that you mentioned.

Moderator: Thank you. This question is directly for Tyler. Tyler, you are currently on the appropriations committee that created the 2014-2015 budget. Can you explain how the committee funded RSOs for the next fiscal year?

Brown: Absolutely. I am the current Vice Chair of the appropriations committee. I can tell you from where we started, it was a great start. We set a new standard, I believe, and a new across-the-board for everyone to follow. We heavily focused on fundraising this year. We heavily focused on what they’re giving back to the school, and what they’re showing us that they’re producing. I believe that community service was another big issue that a lot of clubs really had to show us as well. I believe that everything across the board was a great and honest and fair process. I also believe that just because there was budget cuts, doesn’t mean that these clubs are going to be hurt. There’s many different ways that we can get these clubs funding. and there’s many different ways that these clubs can come back and show their true morals and their true passion through the budget process, or through the bill process, excuse me, which takes six weeks. And it really lets us delve deep inside of them and see what their inner workings are, whereas the budget process is a fifteen-minute, really quick, by the book, by the numbers. So I believe that we did a great job with it.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. For the Eagles: you campaign on the idea that you are students for the students, and against politics. How exactly do you plan on doing things differently than other candidates?

Mentzer: I don’t know if anyone from the other parties or anyone out in the audience has stopped by our table, but you will not see fancy platform cards. You will not see multiple banners throughout the campus. We have one banner. We are simple, something that a normal student here at FGCU would be able to purchase. On that, you know, an average student or a student leader at the University, they really get discouraged by the amount of money that typically goes into a normal campaign. As a student leader myself, I would get discouraged through it. If it wasn’t for Dom here, you know, talking to me about getting a platform together, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today. And that’s what I’m trying to encourage the future leaders of FGCU to see us and see what we’re doing and not get discouraged to run, but to run, try to make a difference, and make an impact here at FGCU. That’s basically what Dom and I are standing for. We are average students. We have been involved on this campus, yes. But are we any different than any other student here? No we’re not. So we’re open door, we wanna here what the students want, and that’s what we’ll try to echo. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. This question is directly for Kaylyn. Kaylyn: being that you are a young student leader, how are you going to fulfill your duties as student government vice president?

Glenn: As I had mentioned before, I have gained a lot of experience in these few past months. When I came to FGCU I didn’t see it as just a university where I could get my degree. I saw it as an opportunity to grow as a person in totally different directions. And with that, I threw myself into everything I possibly could with all my passion. I got involved with as many things as possible and I was able to gain very strong leadership skills, which are crucial in the position that I am running for as Vice President. And in doing all of those things, I feel like I’ve met so many amazing people and I am, like, the other party mentioned too, you are just an average student. I didn’t join the Student Government just for the perks of it, or for any other reason other than that I wanted to come to this university and really be able to input everything that I was able to so being in this position I know that I can represent the students very well, and I can be able to sit on certain committees and just really, you know, be a strong leader and really step up in my role and, like I said, as well, this is an investment for everyone and I am willing to learn and grow and I’m also a blank slate. I’m fresh, I’m young, and I’ve got a totally different perspective on things, and I’m very very excited as to what this position can bring to me, as well as what I can bring to it.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. We will now proceed with debate questions for all parties. These will be asked in rotation and given two minutes to respond.

What do you believe needs to be improved in Student Government? We will start with Action.

Brown: I believe that on my platform it is clearly stated how I feel about Student Government, the internals, as of right now. I stand on the one platform pillar right here: integrity and student leadership. The very first one says “SG Perks”. We don’t need to spend student money, we don’t need to spend extra money, on someone getting a parking spot. We don’t need to spend extra money, we don’t need to make students to spend extra money, on learning where the financials are. Why does a public records requests need to be costing so much money? Why can’t we design the web so that every single RSO can click one button and see where their funding is, how they’re getting their funding, and how much they have left? So there are big internal things that can happen immediately, and happen under my control, because this is a student government, it’s our own government backgrounds that can be improved. This isn’t even having to work with outside or collaborate with outside − this is improving ourselves in order to help our students. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: Next will be For the Eagles.

Volpi: Can you repeat the question for me?

Moderator: What do you believe needs to be improved in Student Government?

Volpi: I believe the first word in Student Government is “student”. And I feel like that’s what Student Government has lost. I feel like students, three people on a platform, 26 people in a party, cannot dictate where this school goes. It should be the students who share their voice, have their voice. That’s what me and Corey stand on. We are here for you. And the student government − it needs to change. It’s time for a change. It hasn’t been the year past, it hasn’t been the years past, it’s been years that this has been going on. And it’s something that has bothered me, and it’s something that has bothered us. And we want to stand up for you. In order for a student government to change, we need to have a couple of things. We need to have our student leaders on campus come up and stand up. We need to have a little bit of more structure, as far as concerning the budget, and stuff like that, we need a little more structure when it comes to hearings. We need more people to share their ideas and what they want, and me and Corey fight for that. And I feel like that’s what it is that needs to change.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. House party.

Cubillo:  The first thing I can think of, because it’s fresh in my memories, is the budget process. I believe there is no way that we should have eight or nine senators deciding the budgets of 150 plus organizations when they have never ever attended any of their meetings. That is just not right. I don’t think that anybody should have their budgets slashed by people who don’t even know what they do. Every organization has a different passion. They all have a different mission. They all have a different goal, and a different vision to fulfill. And when you don’t even understand what that is, how could you sit there and decide the funds, or the rights of those organizations, that just makes no sense to me. So we need to have a different process where it’s more merit-based and application-based, where every organization can be appreciated for the things they do, not for the things they don’t do. Next thing, I think one of those things I can go off of that is having senators required to be involved with student organizations. Many, I’ve heard criticism before that senators and Student Government overall is mainly Greek life, and that’s true. That’s great. However, if you’re going to sit there and speak on behalf of the student body, you need to be involved with many different organizations. And even if you’re not involved in the council or the exec board, you need to be attending these meetings, participating, and being a part of what it is they do so you can appreciate them for what it is they do. And then, you can be a true representation of the student body, because right now that is not happening. And that is why we have so many problems.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. We’re going to start the next question with For the Eagles. As the student body president and vice president, you are the faces of FGCU. What do you think is the biggest challenge of this role?

Mentzer: Clearly when you’re in a leadership position, everyone looks to you, and honestly, it trickles down from the top. So without integrity, leadership, someone humble, someone that you can approach and talk to and feel like you’re them, it’s very hard to get supporters behind you, and that truly will affect the school I am a very modest guy. I feel like I’m very approachable, I feel like I truly would represent the students along with Dom. And I just feel like that’s the kind of thing that any leader in any position needs − they need to be able to come to coffee. Leave my door open, address their concerns, and as I said earlier, I’ve been in multiple leadership positions. Everyone is different. In every leadership position, you encounter different kinds of people. This campus has almost 14,000 students. There are multiple different students, multiple ideas, and it’s just about touching base with them, staying open-minded, and allowing them to truly express their concerns, and going off of that to try and make FGCU the best it can be.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. Now the question is for House. Do you want me to repeat it? As the student body president and vice president, you are the faces of FGCU. What do you think is the biggest challenge of this role?

Glenn: For me I think one of the biggest challenges is not to lose yourself in the role. Because, I think you can really get to your head. And not saying that our current Student Government has, but I think it’s very easy to. In a position of power, it’s very easy to lose yourself and lose why you even got in that position in the first place. And for me that’s something, even throughout this election process, that I’ve really tried to keep in mind, to check with myself that you are just a student, and you’re not some higher power and I think that that’s a very challenging thing, because you have to put yourself in a place where people respect you but not in a place that they can’t be willing to approach you. So I think it’s finding that balance between the two, but then also being able to be a strong leader and lead the people but also be on the same level as them in certain situations.

(Applause)

Cubillo: I believe that the biggest challenge in my role is very similar to what Kaylyn said, but I would like to add that it’s very hard to keep your sensitivity with individuals, because many individuals can be very harsh. However, I’ve made it a goal of mine this year to make sure that every time an individual comes up to me with an issue or a request or a concern, that I have that same sensitivity that inspired me to run in the first place. And beyond that I think that we’re all students, we have to, no matter how busy we are or how much is asked of us, we still have to become good students, and we still have to remain good students. Because at the end of the day, the quality of the education that we get is what’s going to determine our success that we need at Florida Gulf Coast University. Even with all that the job entails we have to become the best individuals, the most productive individuals −

Moderator: Twenty seconds.

Cubillo: − that we can become for the world after FGCU.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. And now for the Action Party.

Scott: I think that the biggest challenge of being elected into Student Government is being in the spotlight. You have to set a good example, and I think that’s something that Tyler and I both will be able to do to the best of our ability. We will be good leaders. We will lead this school with passion, and we want to impact and motivate all of our students. Being a fresh face to Student Government, I will have a new perspective and I will also bring creative ideas to the table. I know it’s a stressful job, but we have the support of our party and we are looking forward to this next year.

(Applause)

Next question. Every year during elections, students feel there are unfeasible initiatives on each candidate’s platform. Why do you feel yours can be accomplished? We will start with House Party.

Cubillo: I think that experience is something you can’t teach and you can’t buy. I have had the honor of meeting with many university officials with many departments in different areas of campus and they’re not afraid to tell me when things cannot be done. They’re not afraid to tell me when I’m wrong. They’re not afraid to tell me when something could be done. So I’ve been able to see how the University works, how to take initiatives step-by-step. Therefore, I would not offer something that would waste our students’ time, or I would never offer something just to make the other parties look bad. I’m going to offer things that I know could be done, and I’m going to offer things that I know we can work out step-by-step. Even if it takes a little while. I know that there’s some way to get these things done on the platform. And experience is the reason why I’m sure of it.

Moderator: Next will be action party.

Brown: I think this has been one of our main talking points as well. On our platform, we’ve strived to place on tangible, grabbable, you can see them in your mind goals. You can see what we want to accomplish, we’re trying to present you with broad concepts, with specific goals that will come with those concepts later. We want to give you, let’s say we want to offer you a department of veterans affairs inside student government. We’re not just offering more to student veterans, we are going to bring someone in that will take care of them. We will bring someone in that will take care of that broad concept. so the goal is a graspable, feasible, actual initiative on the party. And that’s what we’re capitalizing on this year, is that they’re all graspable and feasible goals.

(Applause)

Moderator: Next will be For the Eagles.

Volpi: Can you repeat the question please.

Moderator: Every year during elections, students feel there are unfeasible initiatives on each candidate’s platform. Why do you feel yours can be accomplished?

Volpi: I feel like the platform we’ve put together is simple, yet unique. And if anyone has approached our table you will know that I always tell people our platform can change at the drop of a hat. It shouldn’t be me and Corey deciding fourteen points and where we should move. It should be the students. And I feel like approaching situations and approaching new ideas as they come when we’re in office, is the best policy. You know, ten months down the road, a student might want something, and we’re gonna try our hardest to make that happen. It’s not my choice to say “everyone here needs healthy eating options”, even though that’s something that I take pride in, it’s something that not everybody would want. But if somebody else wants a rollercoaster on campus, we’re going to try to see if that’s feasible or not. And we’re gonna try, and we’re gonna do something about it. But I feel like that’s the best part about our platform that it could change at the drop of a hat. It’s not solid points. It’s not something that has to happen. It’s something that is a guideline, and it’s something that’s open to change. And I feel like that’s the best part about our party.

(Applause)

Moderator: The relationship between the Student Government treasurer, and the president is necessary for a smooth executive branch. Why is it essential that voters choose your party

Brown: Not only has my treasurer been in student government for more than one term, this is also his second term, he also directed the budget process. He was the appropriations committee. He knows the finance code front to back, like the back of his hand. Not only that, he’s been taking part along with the current appropriations chair in finance code updates and revisions to help our students and to help them grow better in their RSOs. This man has been one of the most passionate people that I’ve ever met. He helped inspire me, he’s picked me up when we were down. He’s helped us grow as individuals and as leaders. And this is the man that I need as my treasurer, and I hope all the students see that as well.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. Next, For the Eagles.

Volpi: Our treasurer candidate is Romel. And I feel like he’s a very calm personality, somebody that’s really listened to the students. I feel like we all have the same focus and the same drive. On the other hand, I feel like it shouldn’t matter who the treasurer position is. It shouldn’t matter who the senate is. As true leaders, you should be able to get along with different kinds of personalities. You should be able to stand up, to really believe in the power of people, you know, where they come.  It shouldn’t be we pick the people, it should be the students as I said before. The treasurer position is very important, at the same time,  but no matter who wins it, we are prepared to work with them. Work side by side, and have one vision, and one motion for the school ahead, and that’s with the students and for the students. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. House party.

Cubillo: The treasurer position is a very important position. And yes, we should all learn how to work with different personalities and characteristics. However, the treasurer position requires certain expertise, and knowledge of budgets and finances and the finance and economics behind Student Government. And we do allocate $3.9 million each year, which has been over $4 million in the past. You can’t just manage that or oversee that with a personality − you need some type of knowledge. Sean Kempton, who is our treasurer, has been a senator for three years. The first year, he helped me when I was the chair of the appropriations committee and we allocated a $4.2 million budget, which by the way, not one student protested. Along with that, the second year, he became the Senate Pro Tempore. He’s dealt with many different organizations, he has stood up and spoke on the behalf of many organizations. And beyond that, he’s not just a senator, he’s a representative. That’s two different things. He goes to the meetings, he sponsors many bills, he had six different bills in one night. And he is able to go there and recognize what it is that we need and he brings it back to the senate room. You can’t teach how to do that − that is what a treasurer needs to know. That is how a treasurer develops a philosophy and develops theories, and develops practice in how to be a great treasurer. And that is what Sean Kempton is. He exemplifies not only a treasurer, but a representative of the student body. That is why I picked him, I would’ve never picked anybody else.

(Applause)

Moderator: Every party seems to have great initiatives to benefit the student body. If elected, what will you incorporate from one of your opponent’s platforms. We will start with For the Eagles.

Volpi: I wouldn’t implement anything, to be honest with you. I feel like every challenge comes as it comes. So if another person’s party has one of their initiatives and they wanted that to happen and they come to my office, I’m gonna try to make it happen at that point. I feel like taking other ideas and other things, is great, and that’s what we really want to do. And we want to take it from every student. So to pick and choose from other people’s platforms really isn’t the way we want to do it. I would say we would take everything, and we would try to move toward that. Completing everything is a different story. Finding out if anything’s feasible, we can definitely do that and work our hardest to try to please our student body.

Mentzer: Just like Dom said, the platforms before you, they all have great ideas. And they probably took countless hours coming up with the ideas that people thought the students would want. We have a table. We allow students to write whatever they would want to add to our platform daily. We keep the paper, we roll it out every day, and as day by day goes on, it increases. We’re increasing our platform , yes. Because why? Students keep coming to us with more ideas. We wanted to sit down and say “these are the ten set platform ideas we want. Oh, they have a great idea, we’ll take that off their platform.” No. Why? Because we want to listen to the students. Yeah, the other candidates beside me are also students, but they don’t speak for the entire student body. And like Dom and I said, we are truly trying to listen to what the students −

Moderator: Twenty seconds.

Mentzer: − want, and we are trying to implement that. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: Next will be House Party.

Cubillo: The one initiative that I could potentially agree on and maybe look for some different ways to do it is parking in North Lake during basketball games. It is an inconvenience to students and students have expressed that to me many times. And I have visited that issue with administration, and while I was told that nothing could be done at the moment, maybe even if we don’t change the issue we can at least offer some type of incentive to the students who are affected by this. So even though they’re inconvenienced, we can recompense them in some type of way, when they’re inconvenienced. So I would visit that issue on the other party’s platform.

Moderator: Next will be Action party.

Brown: Just looking over both parties’ platforms, I know that both of these parties have put in hours of research. I know that their parties, both of them, I know that for example my party and the House party − their senators are what we picked for the representatives of the students. They are what we believe the students want. So that’s what we’re gonna offer them. That’s why we believe that that’s what the students need in the next year. Just from picking out, actually I’m going to pick out two, one from each, I believe that the power generating gym equipment could definitely be something that could be looked at. I believe that there is actually a converter that could be bought for the existing gym equipment instead of buying new equipment. So that is definitely something we could look into as an environmentally conscious school. I believe that there’s a lot of good research placed into that and I believe we could definitely look into that more. As far as For the Eagles’ platform card, I saw “more healthy dining options”. Even though it is on my platform, they delve more into gluten-free options, and other options such as that. I believe that this is a need in our student body. I believe that we all need to recognize all the needs and all of our students’ needs, and all that Aramark can produce for us and all that Aramark can provide. Also, our contract with Aramark is up in the next year. So there’s other contractors that we can look into. So there’s other things that we can always work on. So looking at these platform cards, looking over all the research that the other parties have done, has really helped me just sit down, think, and be humble about all the research that we’ve all done, and all the work that we’ve put into it −

Moderator: Twenty seconds.

Brown: — so I think that those two are what I’d really start capitalizing on my platform.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. Upon election, you will immediately be thrust into a position of leadership. Please describe your own definition of what it means to be  a leader. We’re going to start with the House party.

Glenn: From what I’ve learned in my past, I guess, couple months here, and also in a lifetime, is a leader is not someone who can fix everything that needs to be done. A leader is someone who delegates tasks that need to be done. But a leader is also someone who inspires people, who motivates people to want to be better than themselves. And a leader is someone who doesn’t make himself feel better by the position of power that he’s in, a leader is someone who makes everyone else around him feel better about themselves. And in doing that, you’re gonna create a stronger system, and in getting this position I know I would be able to do that. I know that I would be able to instill confidence in you know, the rest of my exec board, and I know that you know, the students would be able to come to me and recognize that I’m not doing this for a personal gain. I’m doing this because I know that I can well represent the student body, and I do genuinely care, and that I do have leadership qualities that are required for this position.

Cubillo: Success means nothing if you don’t bring other people with you. Every bit of influence that you have, you have to make sure you bring other people up with you. You have to add the trickle down onto others and others have to be able to do the things that they never thought they would. I think a leader allows people to see themselves in places that they didn’t see themselves before. And also, I believe a good leader is a good follower. You can’t take charge in everything − you’re not the best at everything there is to do. So you have to recognize when there are other leaders in different situations, and when there are situations when there are better leaders than yourself, and you have to learn how to follow them. So that’s my definition of leadership.

(Applause)

Moderator: Now for the Action party.

Scott: The definition of leadership to me is more than being just humble. It’s about being approachable and it’s about being a good follower as well. I personally have followed for many years before taking on my leadership roles in Phi Mu and Dance Marathon and a few other organizations that I’m involved in on campus. I’ve been through many failures and many successes. I’ve made multiple mistakes. But through those, I have learned and I have grown as a person. I want to work and serve the students, and that’s why I’m running to be Vice President.

Brown: Just gonna add. I do agree with the last speaker as well. Under my email there is a quote. It’s by Aristotle: “You cannot be a good leader without being a follower first.” It’s the biggest thing that I believe in. You are always behind the students, you are never in front of them. You are their representation, but you are not what tells them what to do. And this is my biggest point of being a leader.

(Applause)

Moderator: Next is For the Eagles.

Mentzer: I believe a leader is someone who students or anyone can look to, can relate to, and that person motivates them. There are multiple leaders across this campus. Many people would look at me, and all my positions, and say “You are truly a leader. You’re in this, you’re in that.” Well I can look at other students and say: “You know what? You’re a leader as well. You empower me, you encourage me, I can relate to you. You strive to make me do better.” That is to me what a true leader is − someone you can relate to, someone who you can put yourself in their shoes, and someone who truly makes you be the best person you can be. I strive everyday to be the best leader I can be. Multiple students affect me daily. Taking that surely only makes you a better person, and that’s what I strive for. Someone that people can relate to me, and And I can relate to others and go day by day hopefully improving each one.

Volpi: I’d like to add on to Corey. A true leader is one that learns every day. A true leader is one that is willing to learn every day. Everyone has something to offer. Everyone has more insights for you to give. As FGCU students, we always learn. We always strive to learn more. I feel like that’s what empowers us as a student body, and as a school. And we are so young, and we are always learning. And as you move on, past FGCU, if you stop learning, you’re never gonna get to the places you want to be. And a true leader is one that always learns. And always empowers others to learn. I feel like me and Corey both have those qualities, and I feel like that’s what leadership is to us.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. What we are going to do now is take a five-minute intermission. Please take this time to submit questions, because when we resume we will do the audience questions.

Intermission

Moderator: This question is for each party. Would you use personal social media accounts to address the students? Action party.

Brown: I think that as a public representative, a Facebook is not a proper and exactly usable term or usable way to convey your messages. I feel that it is totally unprofessional. I feel that only the people you are friends with, and the people you like, can see that and I feel that everyone in the whole student body − you need to make everything available to them. You need to make all your official letters, all your official statements, everything, it can be in the News-Press, it can be in the news, it can be in Eagle News. We have great resources around here. We have great resources everywhere. You can publish them online. You can be much more professional instead of just posting it on Facebook.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. For the Eagles.

Volpi: I feel like using different media outlets is great to get across your message. We are in the twenty-first century. Facebook is a very relevant thing, along with every other social media outlet. On the ways to present yourself through that social media outlet is a different thing. Remain professional, business-like − you are a representative of the University. But using Facebook should not be frowned upon. It should be one other thing to connect with your students. And I feel like people who have used them in the past have connected with their students just fine, and I feel like using Facebook is absolutely perfect as long as you are doing it in the correct way, in the more business way, and knowing you are representing the University, and knowing that you are representing the students here at FGCU. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. House party.

Glenn: I would agree with the Eagle Party as well, that Facebook is a really great message to communicate with students on a very quick basis. Because again, we are students and we’re representing the student body, and the majority of the student body is using Facebook. So if there’s something that you want to address to the students in that manner, where all of them are checking it at that moment, you can do that and I think it’s a great resource. But, I think at the same time we can’t lose our professionalism in using emails and also using things like the Eagle News, but typically that takes longer. So I think we definitely need to use all sorts of media resources in reaching out to students, so I do agree that Facebook is, again, a great resource if used in the right manner.

(Applause)

Moderator: This next question is for Juan. As  you vetoed the first budget, what did you do to work with the appropriations committee to make changes? This is related to attending budget hearings and deliberations.

Cubillo: After I vetoed the budget, the first one, I had a conversation with the current appropriations chair. And he gave me a rough draft of what the new one was going to look like. The numbers were something that we both agreed on. The numbers were something that I believe RSOs would have been happy with, but for some reason, when it was introduced in the Senate, it looked absolutely nothing like what I was introduced to. So I did not attend the meetings as has been stated in Eagle News, because I was given a rough draft and a promise, that I believed in. And then when it came into Senate, it didn’t look anything like it. So that’s exactly what happened, and that’s why I did not attend any of the meetings. I counted on the word of that person, and then it did not happen the way that I was told. And I believe that the students were blind-sided in that senate meeting, and therefore it happened the way it did.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. This question is for Sarah Beth. Why did you drop out of Senate after being elected by the students?

Scott: Last year when I was elected I was also President of Phi Mu and I was also a staff member of Dance Marathon and I was a nursing major. Those three things put together were a huge time commitment in itself. I was scooped up at the very last second to run for Senate last year and I was very grateful for the opportunity. However, I had a lot on my plate at the time, and I didn’t feel that staying on Senate would be good with all of the personality conflicts, so I decided to remove myself from the situation.

(Applause)

Moderator: This question is to all candidates. What do you think of the recent budget debacle, and what would you like to see happen or to prevent it from happening in the future? We will start with House.

Cubillo: First, I believe it is very unfortunate that it ended the way it did. I still stand by my veto and I will not sign the budget, I will not endorse it. It will come into law without my signature, because I believe that every organization that was cut was done so wrongfully, without any explanation or accurate explanation. Therefore, that’s what I believe of it right now. Now to prevent any future problems, I believe it’s important to have a different system. There is no way that organizations should be held to the same rubric, when an organization has different missions and different visions. Why should an organization be penalized for not fundraising when their goal is to promote excellence, community service, or some type of culture − that’s irrational. So the system has to change. It has to become a much stricter, we have to have a stricter finance code that specifies these things so that we don’t penalize people for the wrong things. And then we end up with a budget that cuts academic-based organizations by up to 90 percent. Once we have that defined in a document, then personality conflicts and uninvolved students will stop messing up the budget.

(Applause)

Moderator: Next is Action party.

Brown: Speaking as a member of the appropriations committee, as a proud member of the appropriations committee, I believe that there’s a lot of consistency over the last budget hearing. We followed the rules that we set for ourselves just like every single past appropriations committee has done. They set the guidelines for each and every year. True, it was a culture shock for a lot of RSOs who realized “Yes, we need to give back,” and we believe that you can do that. Yes, we did put community service in that rubric. Every single RSO was held to the same rubric. Every single sports club was held to the same rubric. The budget debacle, or debacle…debacle. It came around during the first reading of the budget, which amazes me. I don’t know why someone comes up to you, and they say that they have a problem with you, and they say they have a problem with the hard work and dedication that you’ve put into such a long and strenuous process, that I know the President has gone through this year, because he went through it last year in the appropriations committee. Yet there was nothing said to us until first reading. There was nothing that we heard from him, there was no communication, and we have open meetings. Open deliberations. Open budget hearings. Every single one of them is open to the public. There was only two other senator s that attended those budget hearings, other than appropriations committee. I think I saw one director. But there was no President, no Vice President, to hear the students when we were doing all of our work. And then they come in to finish the first week −

Moderator: Twenty seconds.

Brown: − of the reading. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: For the Eagles

Mentzer: When dealing with money and budgets it is very hard to please everyone. There’s always gonna be some people who come out on top, there’s always gonna be some people who come out at the bottom. It’s not where they fall in line, it’s how people react and take action for it. It’s about communication, it isn’t about bashing, clashing, it’s about harmony. We are one student body, and we’re trying to do one mission here at the University, to allocate funds. And yes, sometimes, not everyone’s happy, but that’s when communication comes along, and just trying to work it out for the best of the students and the best that the people can.

Volpi: And going off what Corey said, something that I’ve been telling a lot of people that have come to our table, is that the budget kind of needs to change. It needs to be structured. As clubs come in, it’s hard to function as a student organization or department with a fluctuating curve. You can’t get $100 one year, and get $10 the next. It’s impossible to function. So if you come in as a new RSO, and you get a certain set amount, and we watch you grow as a student government and as a population here at FGCU, then each year you should get a raise. You should get something else. If you’re failing to do your obligations as an RSO, we as Student Government should be able to help you and to empower you, to tell you that: “This is why your budget has been cut. These are the steps you can do to take advantage of what we give to you as a student government.” I feel like that is how the budget should be fixed, and that is how we should move forward. It should be students communicating with students, and it should be everyone with a one-love type of personality. And that is how we feel.

(Applause)

Moderator: Juan, as the card states, you promised not to spend any money on the barbershop multiple times, yet still did. Why should the students trust you after blatantly misleading them?

Cubillo: I believe this is an error on Eagle News’ part. When they interviewed me in March, I was president-elect and I had no concrete plan of how I was going to get my initiatives done. All I knew was that I had an awesome idea, and that I had a basic plan of how to get it done. So when I first stated that I would not spend the students’ money, that’s when I had an original plan. Several months later, I believe it was about two months later, when we found the most reasonable idea, I was emailed an invoice by Campus Reservations that I needed to pay for the reservations of the barbershop which is up there by the bus loop. Now this was a one-semester trial, it was not a contract, so I decided to spend that money that went to the University to give that barbershop a chance to come to campus, because students did vote for the Yes party with that initiative on the platform card, so it was worth giving it a chance. Now, the reason it’s not here anymore, we need to clarify that, is because we do have a barbershop in the center of town, in Town Center, Gulf Coast Town Center, therefore it was no longer necessary. However, the fact that I misled students is ironic, because I believe Eagle News misled students by saying that I misled students. So that’s the truth, and I’ve been waiting all year to say that.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. This question is For the Eagles. Does the lack of your party’s size bother you?

Mentzer: The lack of the party size does not bother Dom or I. We are both very hardworking and committed individuals, and no matter the number − three, four, five, six, thirty − I believe because of the much harder-working individuals that we are, that we can do the same amount of work that 25, 30 people are doing in other parties. You see Dom and I everyday setting up by ourselves, breaking down by ourselves, talking to individuals by ourselves. Yes, it is much harder, but we are both up for the challenge, and honestly I love it. It’s more individuals I can meet, more individuals I can interact with, and more ideas that I hear from the students.

(Applause)

Moderator: Tyler, how would you address the fact that a large majority of students feel ignored when they attend the senate meetings?

Brown: When every senator attends, or when anyone attends a senate meeting, they all have at least two minutes in public comment, as well as they can also schedule a guest speaker hearing, where they will receive ten minutes. The problem with everything like that is that it’s all Robert’s Rules of Order. We’re run by a structured set, our agenda is set 24-hours in advance, we’re very structured, we’re very professional in that manner. Anyone can always be allotted more time, anyone can always be heard in Senate chambers. But the Senate chambers, yes, you can speak in public comment, be heard, be recorded, but our senators on our party are the ones I chose to be around all the time. They’re gonna be around the student union. They’re gonna be around RSOs. I picked a diversified party so that every single person can be heard this year. You don’t need to just be heard in Senate meetings anymore. You can come to me, you can come to the senators. You will be heard outside of the chambers. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: This question was actually for all parties, so next will be For the Eagles.

Volpi: Could you please repeat the question?

Moderator: How would you address the fact that a large majority of students feel ignored when they attend the senate meetings?

Volpi: I feel like that’s our whole platform. We are students running for students. And, I mean, we’re not running for Senate, we don’t have senators. I feel like both parties have qualified senators, that’s why we’re really going to be putting together a list ourselves, that we will be taking from the students, if we put together another list. I feel like, me and Corey’s door will always be open, and we will always fight for whatever they have to say. And if we have to go onto that Senate floor, and we have to fight for students, then we will. Because the Senate will make time for us, and our voice will be heard, because your voice is our voice, and we are students running for students, and we wanna empower everyone to have a chance to really make their impact on the school. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: House party.

(Applause)

Glenn: As both an officer in the Food Forest, and the treasurer of the Spearfishing Club, I’ve seen this first-hand, and I’ve sat in during the budget hearings over the past couple weeks ago, and I’ve sat there and first-hand literally poured my heart out and watched other students pour their hearts out and show their concerns, and Senators completely just ignore them and turn their heads to them and are busy with conversations, (Applause) and honestly, as a student, that’s disheartening to see that these people who are making their decisions aren’t even going to truly hear you out for everything that you’re fighting for. And I think that that ties into maybe requiring senators to be involved in something or really sit down with each RSO, because I think this is a problem, and I think this is prohibiting a lot of the process of how we go about things as a Student Government. Because students aren’t hearing their other students in positions of power so I think we definitely need to make a change.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. This question is for Juan, and is read as the card is. In your previous year as student body president, can you explain where you spent your travel budget and why it was more than any other student body president?

Cubillo: I believe the last part on that is false. I have not spent any more than any other student body president, and I have double-checked that with administration higher than Student Affairs, and it has been confirmed by them. However, I would like to share where I spent my travel funds and why. In the summertime, when I first got elected, I realized that presidents before me did not take many people on those trips, which means they didn’t give other directors in Senate the opportunity to grasp the concept of leadership at conferences, or at meetings that the student body president attends. So my intent was to take cabinet members and senators to come to those leadership conferences so they can bring back to the University, more to their position and they can inspire others and work better in the position that they’re holding and that they’re appointed to. So I had the same amount of trips as previous student body presidents, I just took more people to get more out of it. Now, some specific meetings that I went to − NACA, which is a conference that every student government goes to every year, it’s a four-day conference where we work with student body presidents, senators, and leaders from all around the country. Then I have FSA meetings, which are quite often, in Tallahassee and different universities around the state. I am required to be at these meetings to represent FGCU at a state level. If I don’t attend these meetings, then the student body of FGCU will not be represented at a state level. So when FSA decides to have a meeting in the state or even in Washington D.C., it is in our best interest for me to be present to advocate for us, so that the state looks out for us and doesn’t forget what it is we need. So yes, I do travel. And yes, I have traveled to conferences and FSA meetings. But that is not one of my requirements of the job of student body president.

Moderator: Twenty seconds.

Cubillo: It is no longer, I’m sorry, it is no different than previous student body presidents, I just had a different intent.

(Applause)

Moderator: This last question is for each party. How does each party plan on fighting tuition increases? We will start with For the Eagles.

Volpi: I believe the real solution to fighting increases in tuition is finding corporate sponsors, finding people that could donate, finding alumni that can give back to our University. One thing that causes tuition increases is that we get cut from the state. The state budget is decreasing every year, and each year they give us less and less. In order to combat that, we have to go be proactive, we have to go out into the community and really find those people that love FGCU just as much as we do, who want to give back, who want to see future leaders in America, who want people to have a better life. And if we don’t do that, then we’re going to keep getting our budget cut, and RSOs are going to keep getting upset and tuition’s going to keep rising. So in order to find the corporate sponsors, we as a student government need to go out into Fort Myers, into Naples, into surrounding areas and Sarasota. We need to show them why FGCU’s important, and that FGCU is our home. We need to show them that FGCU could be their home as well. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: House party.

Cubillo: The previous speaker’s answer was great, however, I believe that private donors or community donors and tuition have nothing to do with each other. I think that, also another statement that was said that I would like to clarify, is that every year we do not get cut by the state. Actually, this past year we were restored by $300 million. The higher education system in the state of Florida had $300 million more that went into it, which is why we were able to not cut programs, and not cut staff this year. Now, that is due to the great efforts of the administration of FGCU, and the great leadership of the student government of FGCU. So to begin answering your question now, I believe that the solution is first, we need to continue strong leadership and strong advocation in Tallahassee, so that they do not cut our funding like they have in the past. Now, if we can do that successfully, which we have, because we have done this before, then we don’t need to increase tuition and when it comes now to the board of trustees meetings, in the summertime or April, I’m sorry, then no tuition increase has to take place, because we did our job in Tallahassee and they support us, so students do not have to pay tuition to compensate for that lack of funding. So it all starts with effort in the beginning, so that we can enjoy the benefit of no tuition increases in the end.

(Applause)

Moderator: Action party.

Scott: I think that in order to fight tuition increases, we need to lobby in Tallahassee, as well as Washington D.C., to lower tuition not only statewide and at our University, but also nationwide to help out students, because we are learning to grow as individuals and lead the next legacy of this nation. I do agree with what For the Eagles said, as far as reaching out to the community to create more scholarship opportunities for students, as well as alumni. They have money that hopefully they would be willing to donate to us to help better our university and our students and their education.

(Applause)

Brown: Just to add on, I would like to re-clarify as well. As what For the Eagles was also intending to say. We need donors, FGCU, outside, anyone can help us. Anyone can help with scholarships. Anyone can help with tuition, not as far as real rates. But they can help us with students in the community. They’re the ones that are gonna provide more students with more real opportunities to come here. More real opportunities to come here for free. To come here because of the merits of their scholarship. That’s not a traditional look, but I think that’s what they were going for, that’s what their platform is, it’s not a traditional look. So I think that’s a clarification for the House party.

(Applause)

Moderator: I would like to thank all the students who submitted questions, and tell you if you did not have a chance to get your questions answered, please see the candidates when they are campaigning.

(Applause)

Moderator: We’re now going to have our closing statements. So we’re going to start with the House party for three minutes each.

Glenn: I would really just like to thank all of you for coming out. I mean, I am so passionate about this position and I really cannot wait to represent you as student body vice president, and I really hope that you see that we are truly trying to look out for your best interest. And I hope that again, if you have any questions, we are here all week long, and I would just really love to meet every single one of you, and again I really look forward to having this position.

Cubillo: It has been a pleasure so far serving my term as your student body president, and I believe that there are a lot of things that we can improve, that I can improve as a person and as a leader, and I’m ready to move on into my second term to continue the success of Florida Gulf Coast University. Thank you for being here tonight.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you. For the Eagles.

Mentzer: I’d like to first say, looking at Dom and I, we are just normal students, and that’s what we ran off of. As you see, we have one banner that cost $240. That is our budget for our campaign. I cannot say the same for the two competitors at either side of me. But, for us, we believe the average student cannot spend thousands of dollars on a campaign. That is not realistic. The average student sees that, and honestly, it steers them away from running. Because they cannot afford that. Dom and I, we can’t afford that. We’re truly trying to change how student elections go, how campaigning goes, and how student government is run. We are standing for the eagles. That’s why we call ourselves For the Eagles. Because why? We’re trying to truly represent the students here at FGCU. Thank you.

Volpi: I’d like to add onto that, I’d like to thank both parties for running. It’s been a pleasure running against both of you. I thank you the student for coming out, and everyone coming to our table. Going on what Corey said, we’re here for you. And I can’t beat that, say it enough, as students for students, because we truly believe that. There shouldn’t be a divide. There shouldn’t be a president or vice president. We are just average people that have a voice, that want to have a voice. We  want to stand for you. I am an eagle. I will always be an eagle. And I want everyone to have an impact on this school, just as I have been given the opportunity to. There is no way, anyone should ever, ever be scared to voice their opinion. Everyone has great ideas here at this campus. Everyone can make a difference. And that is what really we run on. Everyone −

Moderator: Twenty seconds remaining.

Volpi: −Everyone’s ideas should be brought to the table, because no matter what, as I stated earlier, we keep learning. And as students, we will always learn. And from what Corey says, from what Tyler says, or from what Juan says, I have learned today. And I can take everything I have learned −

Moderator: Thank you.

Volpi: − I am a better person from this. Thank you.

(Applause)

Moderator: And now for the Action party.

Scott: First of all I just want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. I encourage you all to be informed, to get out there, to come to each table and read over each platform this week and next week as we campaign for ourselves. We are always open for suggestions, so if you have anything you would like to add, or hope that we would consider, please voice your opinion. We want to hear what you have to say. I hope that you believe in us, because we want to bring change to this University. Thank you.

(Applause)

Tyler: I would just like to thank everyone for coming out tonight, for listening to us, for giving us all these great questions, I know that hasn’t happened before, but I really enjoyed them all. I’d just like to say, we are here for results. We’re not here to promise you things that we’re not going to be able to fulfill. We’re here to give you tangible, real items. And that’s what we’re here to represent you about. You have a question, we’re at the table. You don’t like something, we’re willing to discuss it with you. We’re willing to talk to you, we’re willing to have our door open. I’d just like to, just to wrap it up, I’d like to thank Eagle News for their very accurate reporting throughout the past year, and I’d like to thank everyone for coming out tonight, and I only hope that you guys all go out to the polls on February 25th through the 27th, and vote Action.

(Applause)

Moderator: Thank you all. This concludes the student presidential debate. We would like to thank all of you for attending. Please come out and vote this February 25th through the 27th.

 

About The Author

Nina Barbero

Nina Barbero is a senior majoring in economics, and has been writing for Eagle News since her freshman year and enters her senior year as Eagle News' Managing Editor. When she is not in the newsroom, you can probably find her swimming at the beach, trying to talk her way out of overdue book fines at the library or hoping the Giants win at least one game this season.

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