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Presidential candidates face off in debates

Amanda Michaels | Monday, February 9, 2004

The four tickets running for student body president and vice president faced off Sunday night in a debate that turned into a battle over the value of experience for student government leaders. “Student apathy won’t be changed unless fresh students with a new perspective come into office,” said Ryan Craft of the Craft-Lynch ticket during his opening statement – a sentiment that carried throughout the debate.Freshmen Mark Healy and Mike Healy defended their youth as an asset, citing the fact that they will have to live under their own policies and face reelection.”Also, we’re not running as freshmen,” said Mark Healy. “We’re running as a voice for everyone. We spent the year in the most important position of student government – as students.”Istvan-Bell stressed the experience they have had outside of student government as necessary in developing the right skills for leaders.”We’ve earned our experience, we weren’t voted in. Experience has become a huge issue, but I don’t see why [our ticket] is so far away from that. It’s about having the best personality as well as the best platform, and we’ve got that,” said Istvan.As the only two candidates currently holding positions in student government, Ebersol and Leito often called attention to their knowledge of the intricacies of the structure and members of the campus leadership.Student involvement in the process of student government was also a main issue, stemming from the Ebersol-Leito goal of putting a student on the Board of Trustees and their open door policy that would give all students the opportunity to become involved in governing.”The biggest complaint is that students don’t have a voice in the administration,” said Leito, defending the idea of a Board of Trustees student representative. “This way, the students can share their concerns with the administration, and the administration can likewise share their concerns with students.”The Healy-Healy ticket also laid out an open door policy for decreasing campus apathy. “We focused our entire platform on student involvement and opening the doors of student government … nothing should be closed to students,” said Mark Healy. He continued to explain his concept of idea boxes to be placed in DeBartolo for students to place questions or concerns about the leadership. They also suggested the formation of student forums to discuss controversial issues that student leaders do not necessarily have legislative control over.After emphasizing communication to students through dorm representatives, Istvan and Bell detailed a policy to get SYRs moved back into the dorms that would require students to sign a pledge promising that they would not abuse alcohol during dorm dances.”Previous efforts haven’t completely voiced the concerns … and if we don’t address the issue now, no one will remember how great the old SYRs in the dorms were,” said Istvan.The Craft-Lynch platform centered on five priority goals, as Craft stated that the most important part of their leadership would be making visible changes to campus life, including the addition of three-hole punches and staplers to every computer cluster on campus.”You can see that these proposed changes make sense. At the end of the day, this stuff will be passed; it’s common sense. Other proposals have definite feasibility issues,” said Craft.An audience of over 50 students questioned the candidates on a variety of subjects, including their stance on gender issues both in the election and on campus.”It doesn’t matter what gender your leaders are,” said Bell in response to a question about her position as the only woman candidate. “However, no offense to any guys, but women are generally more compassionate and able to relate to people.”Each ticket spoke in favor of addressing the topic of gender and sexuality issues.”We are the only top 20 school without a gender resource center, and we have to represent both the half of the population the school was built for and the half that the University has accommodated for 25 years,” said Ebersol in support of the creation of a gender resource center – a stance also taken by the Healy-Healy ticket.”The University needs to get non-discrimination policies in effect in regards to sexuality, and it’s appalling that we don’t already,” said Istvan.As the final question of the evening, each candidate was asked what they would do if not elected. Only Leito answered that he would definitely remain involved in some capacity of student government if not elected.