USG candidates address students at Open Forum

Sade Hale

The future of Undergraduate Student Government was on display at the Rathskeller Thursday night during the Open Forum, where candidates discussed their plans for Kent State students.

The event started off with a speech by each candidate, then questions from the discussion moderator. The forum ended with questions by students.

Directors and senators were given three minutes for their speech, but the two candidates running for executive director were given five minutes.

The most anticipated speakers of the night were Evan Gildenblatt and Isaac Hadzovic, the candidates for executive director.

Both candidates received the loudest receptions from the audience of about 80 students.

The two candidates addressed the issues of student engagement not only in USG but in all Kent State activities.

Gildenblatt said that he is able to set aside “partisan bickering” and appeal to both sides of the political aisle. He noted that he has been endorsed by the College Democrats and the College Republicans.

“They might not agree on much, but they agree on me,” Gildenblatt said.

Hadzovic also has the endorsement of an important student organization, Black United Students.

According to a press release from BUS, Hadzovic is goal-oriented, diligent, determined and capable of improving the undergraduate student experience.

Gildenblatt said that he has an open-door policy as the director of governmental affairs, and he will continue to have an open-door policy if elected executive director of USG.

Hadzovic stressed his idea to hold Town Hall-styled meetings where students can come and directly ask USG questions once a month. He talked about more effectively utilizing the USG “street team,” which will take time to roam the campus and engage students to get a barometer on what is important to students.

Both candidates seemed to agree that the input of the student body is paramount to the success of the USG, but each candidate had slightly different ideas.

While Hadzovic talked about the importance of face-to-face communication with the student body, Gildenblatt said that the use of social media is possibly the best way to engage busy students.

As for improving student life on campus, Gildenblatt suggested incorporating students’ ideas to guide USG toward making better decisions. He said the campus boasts a lot of talent, and more students should have the opportunity to participate in the everyday decision-making.

Hadzovic said that he had done extensive research on new signs to be put up around the campus. He said all of the signs would cost about $7,000, and would display the time, weather alerts and advertisements for events on campus.

Hadzovic said these signs had the potential to facilitate better attendance at sporting events and other university-sponsored programs.

During the student question period Gildenblatt was asked about the rumor that he wants to raise the pay of USG members. Gildenblatt explained that he wouldn’t have the authority to change the scholarship that USG members receive, but he is considering submitting a proposal to the Center for Student Involvement requesting that the scholarship USG members at Kent State receive be more comparable to student leaders at other public institutions in Ohio. He added that he would propose this in exchange for student leaders being held accountable by an advisory committee that would decide whether or not the leader has fulfilled their responsibilities.

Gildenblatt said that student leaders should be compensated appropriately for the work they do.

Hadzovic said he enjoyed the forum and he once again stressed student involvement.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to come out to hear the candidates,” Hadzovic said.

Students will be able to vote in the USG elections on Flashline on March 6.

Contact Sade Hale at [email protected].