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Candidates determine platforms

Ken Fowler | Monday, February 4, 2008

When it comes time to decide what projects will receive support for funding in his administration, Cooper Howes has a simple – and egalitarian – answer.

“Our platform is just going to be using a magic 8-ball or drawing names out of a hat,” Howes said.

Howes is running with Daniel Rimkus on one of the six tickets to become the University’s next student body president and vice president.

His answer to the funding question may be the most straightforward, but it is not the most popular.

Robert Reish, who is running with vice presidential candidate Grant Schmidt, wants the student body at large to determine what programs and events receive student activities funds. To do that, Reish is proposing a student census.

In fact, Reish’s platform includes a proclaimed desire to replace the LaFortune arcade, which he says is not used enough to merit its location in the building. However, he refuses to promise any changes to the arcade as part of a Reish administration.

“That’s just my opinion,” Reish said. “But if no one else cares about the LaFortune arcade, then maybe we should invest our time in it.”

One thing he will promise, however, is the creation of free DVD rentals. He said student government owns the DVDs that the Huddle Mart used to distribute. He plans on having the on-duty secretary take charge of the rentals in student government’s second-floor LaFortune offices.

“There’s no funding at all,” Reish said, “which is great.”

Maris Braun, the current student body vice president, argued that a census or survey is not always feasible, especially when a program incurs unexpected costs. Furthermore, she said, many students are busy and fail to complete or submit incomplete online surveys. Braun said the current administration, led by student body president Liz Brown, hasn’t needed such surveys.

“We had no shortage of feedback,” Braun said. “We were constantly connected to the student body.”

Braun, who is running with vice presidential candidate George Chamberlain, said her administration would first ask how a program affects the “quality of student life” to determine whether it deserves funded.

William Ehrlich, who is running with vice presidential candidate Michael Roscitt, agreed with Braun.

“I think the best thing is to talk to people when you’re walking around on your own time,” he said, “… from different rounds, too.”

He argued that people filling out polls say they will use more things than is true.

“I would say the thing of sending out a survey doesn’t get it done,” he said. “No one gives a [hoot] when they’re filling out the survey.”

The most costly platform goal for both the Braun and Reish campaigns is student legal services. Braun said that even if an administration could convince local alumni lawyers to offer advice – not representation – at a significantly discounted cost, she would probably still suggest a small fee for each consultation, in order to minimize costs.

Even with a nominal fee, a subsidized plan would benefit those students who need the legal help and simply be an added cost to those who do not.

Rick Hollowood, who is running with vice presidential candidate Alex Tomala, said such disparities are inevitable.

“A lot of things do benefit one group, and in a lot of senses you can’t really avoid that,” he said. “… You try to just hope that it evens out.”

Still, Howes wants the hat lottery to decide what projects and events receive student activities funding. And he wants to open up funding to each student’s desires – that is, that every student could submit a proposal for student activities money.

“There’s that whole business with the stuff that’s illegal, but other than that, I don’t think we’d be preventing anyone from submitting,” he said.

The only mandate is that the winners must be chosen from a top hat.

“But, you know those propeller beanies?” he said. “Those would be good, too.”