Tuition, athletics on agenda for candidates

Tuition, athletics on agenda for candidates

Ending Northeastern’s dependency on tuition, increasing the quality of services on campus and raising school spirit were the main topics of discussion between the two candidates at the Student Government Association (SGA) Presidential Debate Thursday.

As the sun set on a chilly Krentzman Quad, the two candidates for president, juniors Rogan O’Handley and Allyson Savin, stepped up to opposing podiums to prove what makes them the best person to lead the association during the next year. Dean of Campus Life Marina Iannalfo moderated the hour-long debate, which was co-sponsored by The News.

In the opening address, both candidates said they knew SGA was a “calling” since they first became a part of the organization, which was in 2002 for Savin and 2004 for O’Handley.

When asked why she was running for office, Savin, a business major, said her experience outside SGA enabled her to know what students wanted in a way O’Handley couldn’t. She was former SGA executive vice president for student affairs, a Resident Assistant and president of the Council for University Programs.

O’Handley responded to the question by saying it would be a “disservice” to the student body if he did not run for president, and listed his top accomplishments as current vice president for student services, which include getting approval for a Taco Bell in the Curry Student Center and a Starbucks in afterHOURS, creating a new safe space for the Northeastern University Bisexual, Lesbian and Gay Association (NUBiLAGA) and working to get a new health insurance plan for students.

Throughout the debate, Savin emphasized her visibility as a student leader and the connections she has formed with both students and administrators in her four years at Northeastern.

In response to how she was going to forge a relationship with the incoming university president, she said, “The new president will know my name before I even walk into his office.”

O’Handley also said he had formed important relationships with administrators like Ed Klotzbier, vice president for student affairs, and had “amazed and shocked” President Richard Freeland with his forward approach to creating the NUBiLAGA safe space.

In order to lower the university’s dependency on tuition for 80 percent of its revenue, O’Handley said key components would be energy conservation to save money, and encouraging alumni to get involved and support their alma mater to offset funds that are currently taken from tuition.

Savin countered by saying her goal was to go beyond lowering the annual increase and set tuition during freshman year to remain the same price for the class’ duration at Northeastern. She said the solution could not be found in alumni alone.

“Unless you’re happy when you’re here, you’re not going to give back when you leave,” she said.

As the lights of Ell Hall flickered on and the debate entered the second half-hour, the crowd of about 60 people, many of whom were SGA senators, began to thin due to the cold weather.

Both candidates agreed that the rising cost of tuition was the most important challenge students faced in the upcoming year.

They both also touted the idea of requiring students to complete a mandatory amount of community service hours before graduation to improve relations with the community. The idea was first advanced by former mayoral candidate Maura Hennigan during her campaign last year.

O’Handley emphasized the need for a drastic increase in school spirit at Northeastern and said bringing a stadium onto campus would help increase it.

Savin agreed a stadium would be beneficial, but said students would be “more gung-ho” about Northeastern if they weren’t so “pissed off” at the university all the time and didn’t feel so disconnected when they were on co-op. She said students must love their university in order to have the school spirit.

In her closing statements, Savin reiterated that the student body needs a president who has more experience at Northeastern outside of SGA and who would make students a part of the process instead of “shouting the issues at them.”

“The student body needs a president well-versed on more than just taking a stab at issues,” she said.

O’Handley closed the debate by telling students that, “The heavy weight of your Northeastern problems will soon be lifted.”

He said he would continue to give students what they want as he did over the past year. O’Handley was met with applause when he exclaimed that he would be the first in line to enjoy a Chalupa when the Taco Bell he helped obtain opened.

Iannalfo said she enjoyed the debate, and that both candidates presented themselves well.

“I was delighted to participate, and to have the opportunity to watch two of our student leaders and listen to what they see as the issues,” she said. “From what I heard, they’re both really impressive candidates.”

– Staff writers Hailey Heinz and Ricky Thompson contributed to this report

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