Student Senate Debates

A national presidential election year means that politics are making headlines everywhere, but there’s another election happening closer to home. The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Student Senate is holding a political race for a new president and vice president of the student body.

Matthew Castelaz, junior software engineering major and Reece Paper, freshman general engineering major are running against Chris Patterson, senior mathematics major and Rachel Hopkins, junior business administration major. On April 7, each team had a chance to debate against one another at the Pioneer Crossing in the Markee Pioneer Student Center.

The debate was ran by members of Student Senate, but students in attendance were allowed to ask the candidates questions as well. One audience member asked about how the candidates would make students and those in the Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community feel safer with the current situation of posters indicating Doyle Center safety zones being ripped down.

Both tickets provided their concern about the situation and ways they are going to make students feel safer with the current issue.

“What I would like to see happen is to work with the Doyle Center to not only supply them with ideas, but to work together to execute them. Some of the things that have been brought up for next year is creating a database for those that have safe zone training, so if there is a specific area being targeted we can automatically start our investigation in that area,” Patterson said in terms of what he would like to see happen with the current poster stealing situation.

“I think it starts with education. Work towards educating our student body about why it is important to be supportive of our LGBTQ community on campus. We have great things in place including the Doyle center, but that clearly is not enough.” Castelaz said.

He then went on to state that with the current UW-Platteville setup it is going to be hard to find the person ripping these posters down, therefore, the only way to fix the problem is to “nip it in the bud” and solve it before it gets worse.

What the candidates believe the largest challenge facing UW-Platteville right now, excluding budget cuts, was another debated topic.

“I think one big issue is both academic advising and registration policies on campus,” Castelaz said. “If students are getting that good academic advising experience to understand what those polices are, there really is no way as students we can own our academic experience. This is something both Reece and I want to address if elected.”

Patterson and Hopkins recognize the academic advising issue as well, however, they chose to focus more on the things going on outside of academia.

“There is a lot of underrepresentation on this campus, whether it be gender, race, or sexuality and a lot of those things don’t come up until it is too late. That is why I chose this year, as director of diversity and inclusion, to prevent this from happening on UW-Platteville’s campus and be as proactive as possible to make sure students are represented in these discussions,” Patterson said.

The debate also included a discussion on how each set of candidates would handle a situation where a student wants guns to be allowed in all places on campus and making sure that student’s voice would be heard even if they do not have the same ideology or believes.

“You can’t let someone else’s viewpoint that is different from yours be shut down. That is the whole point of democracy, so you can voice your own opinions and others can learn and grow from them. I would encourage that student to voice their opinion at the senate meeting because that is an opinion that everyone needs to hear,” Hopkins said as a response to how Patterson and herself would handle this type of situation. Hopkins also mentioned how this is an important issue happening right now in Wisconsin and would also encourage this student to the state and local legislators.

Castelaz rebutted by discussing the wide variety of students on the UW-Platteville campus and how all students need to be listened to as well as educated on the current policy at hand.

“At the end of the day it wouldn’t matter how Reece and I feel about a certain policy [opinion] and if elected, we are going to be representing all of you [students] and are going to be [fighting] each and every day for what you [students] all wanted in order to do what is best for campus,” Castelaz said.

Other debate topics included: leadership, collaboration amongst governance groups and how to represent Platteville in the public eye.

The debate ended with closing arguments for each group highlighted their campaign slogans, as well as stating why they were the superior candidates. In addition, each ticket had to explain how they believed their opponents would do if they were elected instead of them. However, when answering this question, the debate became a bit more heated by discussing time and dedication of the opponents.

There were about 30 people that attended the debate to support Student Senate and the student student voice on campus.

“[Student politics are important] because we have to have people who represent us, [students]. Student Senate is a group of dedicated [people] who come together to represent this campus,” Lydia Sigwarth, junior English major said.

Patterson and Hopkins are running under the campaign slogan of “A New Voice,” while Castelaz and Paper are running under the campaign structure of the “three c’s: commitment, collaboration, communication.”

Whichever pair is elected, will be replacing the current President Sydney Bend and Vice President Joe Sigwarth in Student Senate next semester.

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