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Debate an example that should be followed

Ryan Flamerich

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This past Thursday was a chance for the University to shine, and did it ever. With the eyes of the state upon it, the Capstone showed everyone watching something that we Capstonians already know: This campus is home to one of the leading universities in the nation, and we are working to build a better future for our struggling state.

While the gubernatorial candidates at the debate last Thursday may unfortunately not have come across as very engaging and visionary political personalities, their performance shouldn’t reflect on the hard work many of our students did to make the debate happen. They brought together an excellent venue, a well-behaved audience of other students and spectators, an outstanding moderator, and a spectacular stage.

Viewers at home had reason to be impressed with what they saw.

Aside from football games and winning the BCS National Championship, the gubernatorial debate was one of the most exciting things to have happened on this campus since I began my college experience here last year. It excited students of all types, including those who have never before been involved in politics.

I applaud the student leaders who made it happen, and I thank the University’s administrators for allowing this event to occur. However, I hope that this debate becomes the beginning of a journey full of exciting events, and not the day trip it appears to be.

There are a number of things this University does right: recruiting, fundraising and football.

However, promoting programs that enhance student life has been one of its biggest shortcomings. Look around — there are no sponsored concerts this year, few nationally recognized speakers, and a small number of advertised campus events.

While we were sitting in Coleman Coliseum last year basking in the disappointment of Taking Back Sunday, Auburn’s student body rocked out to the Goo Goo Dolls and UGA mellowed out to Owl City. This year, I am not asking for improvement. I am asking for something, anything, because we have nothing scheduled.

University Programs, the department responsible for supporting such events, does everything it can with what it has. Which is not much.

The University could dramatically enhance student life by allotting more money for such programs. Auburn more than doubled its programs budget last year.

Without more funds, this department can’t take risks and schedule big name talent and world-renowned speakers.

I understand major social events have some risks associated with them, but without risk there can be no success. Look at Alabama football. It was a huge risk to start a football team in the late 1800s. The athletic department had to buy uniforms, build a field and, shockingly, encourage students to come out and watch. Now over 100 years later, this school is known for football.

I wonder if our administration, so focused on minimizing risks, would have approved such a program if it held power during the 1890s.

Alabama may always have the reputation of being a party school, but to challenge this we need events that don’t require a shot of whiskey or a pint a beer to be entertaining.

I hope the University moves forward this year and provides a wholesome alternative to the parties that are too often the only entertainment venue for students. I hope the University goes after big name artists for concerts and comedians for shows. I hope the University goes after hosting huge events like College Jeopardy, but, honestly, my main hope is that the University just does something to enhance student life.

Ryan Flamerich is a sophomore majoring in engineering and a member of the SGA Senate.

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Debate an example that should be followed