SGA tactics diverge
The two remaining candidates in the race for Student Government Association president scored the different paths for progress at Tuesday’s debate in the World Affairs Lounge, University Center.’
The run-off election will determine whether the road will be paved by communication senior Kenneth Fomunung and his grass-roots populist approach, or by psychology senior Alexander Obregon and his commitment to working through UH administration.
‘It is very easy for Student Government Associations to be ineffective at schools, and that is by not working with the administration,’ Obregon said. ‘We’ve established a great working relationship with the administration, so that when there’s a problem, first we contact the administrators and then we do our own research.’
Fomunung said SGA’s power comes not from administration, but from the student body.
‘I disagree when you said we should first contact the administration,’ Fomunung said. ‘While it is important that we have a good working relationship with the administration, the student government is elected to serve the student body.’
Despite their differences in philosophy, both Fomunung and Obregon said they plan to support SGA’s five-point tuition plan if elected. The candidates also agree that the University needs to set a higher standard for campus safety.
‘The administration (says) campus crime at UH is no different than the crime percentage in different areas of Houston,’ Obregon said. ‘That’s unacceptable. We should not hold our standard of campus safety to what it is in communities outside of the University of Houston. When you step foot on this campus, you should not only feel safe, you should be safe.’
Fomunung said students need to do their part as well.
‘Students are left largely uncertain about simple things like walking to their cars at night,’ Fomunung said. ‘I think cops can patrol more, but students have to exercise social responsibility and good social judgment. We can promote the buddy system and group walks.’
As the nation’s economic hard times trickles down to affect the University’s budget, the candidates joined in discouragement of cuts to research funding.
Obregon said UH should focus on gaining flagship status.
‘There is going to be a shortage of money . . . So, what can the Univeristy do to perpetuate this Tier I status without compromising the quality of education?’ Obregon said. ‘We definitely do not need to compromise the quality of education.’
The candidates’ political agendas were as similar as their philosophies on how to accomplish their goals were different.
‘The most important power that we have is something that we’ve established; it wasn’t something that was given to us,’ Obregon said. ‘I can’t emphasize enough that we don’t need to fight the administration, that has proven to be very very ineffective in SGAs. That does not work. We need to coorperate with the administration and’ having that trust that they have given to us is the most important thing that we have.’
Fomunung said the students must come first.
‘It’s time for us to take control of our student government and share our unified goals,’ Fomunung said. ‘Because the voice of 32,000 students staking their claim in unison cannot be ignored.’