At a debate held on Tuesday in the Student Activities Center, executive candidates for the next academic year’s Undergraduate Student Government expressed viewpoints largely party-driven, but ones also putting community and teamwork as a high priority. The event was sponsored by The Speech and Debate Society and The Statesman.
This year saw the emergence of two parties in USG, the Seawolves for Change Party and The After Party. Seawolves For Change wishes to continue to concentrate most of USG’s spending into club stipends, while The After Party wants to broaden the areas of its spending to include an expansion of services such as PASS tutoring, along with addressing tuition increases and the quality of campus dining.
Starting with the treasurer ticket, each candidate took a brief interval to introduce themselves, their experience and their administrative plans for the future. They then answered questions posed by the student body, selected at random by the election administrative board.
One question for the treasurer candidates asked for an explanation of the Faculty Student Association (FSA) fee, which is paid to the clerical faculty who have auxiliary roles in USG. Both treasurer candidates, Wesley Hawkins (SFC) and Brian McIlvain (TAP) said they would better familiarize themselves with the fee to make sure it is being allocated in an appropriate way, though neither candidate elaborated on what constituted their notions of appropriateness.
A major issue for the VP candidates Ryan Heslin (SFC) and Mallory Rothstein (TAP) was protocol and decorum during senate meetings. Heslin, who read the definitive conference guide Robert’s Rules of Order “twice, cover to cover,” would hold meetings under his jurisdiction to a high standard of order, while Rothstein espoused a less strict approach: “As long as I’m doing my job well,” she said, “the senate will want to abide by my rules.”
The three Presidential candidates, Adil Hussain (TAP), Yiufat Lam (independent) and incumbent Anna Lubitz (SFC), spoke last. Although their long-range focuses and goals differed, all three candidates extolled the value of the community, both as an end and as a tool to achieve ends.
Hussain, who called the current USG suite “unwelcoming,” wished to revamp the organization in a way that would bridge the gap between the student body and its presiding government.
Lam said multiple times that he would “keep an open line of communication…raise awareness, keep everything out there.”
And Lubitz, who repeated the phrase “collaborate and communicate” multiple times throughout the night, said that “commuter and resident assistants should communicate, east and west campus should come together; we are one community.”
Nevertheless, tensions were evident in the rhetoric employed by the candidates. Heslin repeatedly expressed disappointment in the current USG senate, citing its bureaucratic inadequacies and lack of good priorities. He also cited “thedraconian budget cuts and poor decisions of those in charge.”
Wesley Hawkins, a treasurer candidate and SFC representative, mocked the TAP motto, “who would you rather party with?” by imploring the audience to instead pick the person who they would prefer to represent them. “When going to parties, people make stupid decisions,” he said, “let’s not make stupid decisions with whom we elect.”
Anna Lubitz, responding to a query about efficiency in student government, said she would “not mislead and misinform you of USG procedures, like someone I know,” prompting murmurs in the audience, which mostly comprised current USG senators.
USG polls open on SOLAR today and continue through April 15.