Debate double-play for WSGA candidates


Photo Mark Feuerborn

The candidates for the Washburn Student Government Association president and vice president met twice for debate and discussion on campus issues; the Washburn Review conducted their second annual student-run debate moderated by multimedia editor Mark Feuerborn on Mar. 9, and instructional librarian Sean Stacy hosted Mabee Library’s annual “Great Debate” on Mar. 13.

The campaign parties of Alexis Simmons and Scott Weinkauf, Zac Surritt and Jim Henry, and Victoria Toothaker and Sarah Arriaga began both debates by introducing themselves and the general plan of their platforms.

“[The] best way to give back to the university was to make it a better place like students before them have done.” Simmons and Weinkauf said.

Simmons also noted that the seven years of combined experience between her and Weinkauf make them strong candidates for the offices in question.

Surritt wants his platform “Communication, Cooperation and Coordination,” to carry on throughout his administration if elected.

Toothaker and Arriaga said that they were running because they’re ready to get to work early in their school career.

At the Review’s debate, the campaigns touched on their first acts if they were to be elected as president and vice president. Toothaker and Arriaga announced their plans to start a diversity week.

“We will be setting aside a portion of our budget to craft a week-long celebration on what it means to be diverse,” Toothaker said. “We will continue to do what we’ve done during our campaign. We will reach out to student organizations and administrations and make sure they are meeting student needs and that they know what student needs are.”

The first issue Simmons said they will tackle will be related to teaching students on campus carry policies.

“[We’re] hitting hard and fast with education and voluntary training for concealed carry holders,” Simmons said.

The Simmons-Weinkauf campaign also hopes to create a registry that could be accessed by WUPD, counseling services and residence halls.

Simmons tackled a question early on in the debate that challenged her plans to create a voluntary registry of students carrying firearms. She believes the university would not technically be held responsible for lawsuits related to this registry.

“It’s not impossible to create the registry. The bill that would have prohibited is very likely to be struck down,” Simmons replied. “The state has already limited the education and training so if the other groups have better ideas that follow the guidelines, I’d love to hear them. It becomes an issue of creativity because we though this issue was solved.”

Surritt took up Simmons’ offer and discussed his campaign’s plan to handle the issue of guns on campus.

“We have talked with Dr. Farley, Dr. Grospitch – the vice president of student life – and Captain Enos and we’re all on the same page,” Surritt said. “It is the position of this campaign that we can provide informational forums about state policy and Washburn’s policy about carry laws. The university can also provide limited training about gun safety and how to avoid violating carry laws.”

Arriaga brought up that their campaign’s original plan was to create campus safe zones where guns would not be allowed, but after realizing this was prohibited and there were too many loopholes, the Toothaker-Arriaga campaign also have championed expanded gun safety education.

The Simmons-Weinkauf ticket questioned if Surritt and Henry’s approach to sexual assault would change any current policies or improve Washburn’s issues.

“It is important to inform, but those programs are already happening,” Simmons said. “The problem at hand is processes during reporting.”

Elections for WSGA officials are currently taking place and will end the evening of Mar. 16. Students interested in voting can watch the debate on video at, then visit and click on the tab that reads “WSGA Elections Vote Here” The election results announcements will be made Mar. 17.