(Left to right) Amanda Marino, Nick Marotta, Nicolette St. Amand, and Johnny Morabito delivered their platforms during the Student-Senate Debate. Photo by Joseph Lachance.
The University of Rhode Island’s Student Senate presidential debate was held on Tuesday at 5 p.m. between candidates Nicolette St. Amand and Nick Marotta.
The candidates spoke about their platforms to open the debate. The current URI
St. Amand’s running mate is current Student Senate Academic Committee Chair, John Morabito. Marotta’s running mate is Amanda Marino, an at-large representative of Student Senate.
St. Amand has two years of experience on the Executive Committee of Student Senate, having served as the Cultural Affairs Committee chair last spring and currently serves as director of communications. Marotta serves on the Senate as an off-campus representative currently.
Marotta and Marino talked about their plans to advertise more for mental health resources as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes on campus, their plans to alleviate the parking issue and how they will reach out to Greek Life. Marino said that students deserve to know the resources that are available to them on campus.
“We have really significant plans for Greek Life,” said Marotta.
St. Amand and Morabito spoke about lowering textbook costs as well as a different solution to the parking issue on campus. St. Amand mentioned specifically that they had an idea for there to be a lot in Narragansett for students to park in and get bussed to campus from there.
St. Amand and Morabito also have plans on improving mental health services offered on campus.
“We want to push for 24/7 text or call service at the counseling center,” said Morabito.
St. Amand said that she would work with student organizations through advertisement of student organization’s events. St. Amand also said that she would regularly go to organizations to ask them how their events have gone.
Marotta said that he had begun working with organizations through his campaign process by reaching out to student organizations.
“Every time we go speak to a group, they say you’re the first people to speak to us,” Marotta said.
He also said that maintaining a friendly relationship with student organizations would go a long way.
“I’m your friend and I’m here for you anytime you need me,” said Marotta.
St. Amand expressed that time maintenance has never been an issue for her, while Marotta said that he is a student first, but is very passionate about Senate and helping out the University.
St. Amand said that she thinks Senate can make more opportunities for organizations that are not represented by Senate to get help from Senate. Her running mate, Morabito, said that there should be a streamline of communication to alleviate the problem.
Marino said that there is room for improvement in communication between student organizations and .
A person claiming to represent Greek Life from the audience said that they felt there has been a lot of hostility towards Greek Life on campus. The individual asked how each candidate would work on this during their term.
“We pride ourselves on supporting student groups,” said St. Amand.
Marotta, as he has been very vocal in including Greek Life on his platform, said that Student Senate’s policy toward Greek Life has been a lot of talk and not a lot of actions. He said that he plans to work with Greek Life more during his term if he wins.
“We can elevate each other to levels we haven’t seen before,” said Marotta.
In response to a question on how the candidates will handle any scrutiny or backlash from those who do not support them, Marotta said that it is not something he is necessarily going to be worrying about at all. He said that during his term there will be no decision that is going to alienate or annoy a group in a way they won’t see coming.
“Everyone wins big time with what we’ll be doing,” Marotta said.
A question on the atmosphere within Senate that each candidate will establish and maintain received similar responses from each candidate. Marotta said that it was important to make new senators feel welcome and ensure that they are treated as students first. His running mate, Marino, said that the organization needs to work on the atmosphere.
“There is a difference between disagreements and not having respect for one another,” said Marino.
St. Amand said that she would facilitate this by making sure everyone is familiar with each other within the organization. Her running mate, Morabito, said that he would do this by having Senate outings and bringing back the “big and little system” in Student Senate.
In response to a question on how the vice presidential candidates would handle conflict among senators, Morabito explained how his time as a Resident Advisor (RA) has allowed experience for him to handle conflicts.
“The vice president position is similar to being the RA of Student Senate,” said Morabito.
Marino said that mediating conflicts while serving as an emergency medical services (EMS) responder would help her in this role on the Senate floor during debates