Students given chance to speak to candidates directly
The students at Friday’s UCSU Representative at Large Debate got a good show. Tough questions from audience members and a few verbal clashes among ticket members made the debate a lively event.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of passionate candidates,” Hadley Brown, a senior English major who is currently one of the UCSU Tri-executives, said in reference to some of the bickering among the candidates that occurred on stage.
The biggest moments of confrontation centered around Chance Heath, a candidate on the Action ticket who served on the Legislative Council last semester. Heath was accused by Rise ticket candidate, Medhat Ahmed, of being indecisive and having a hidden agenda. The accusations were in regard to Heath’s support of a UCSU bill proposed last semester that would have shut down student cost centers if UCSU failed to recognize the Greeks.
Jarvis Fuller, a sociology and theater major who is also the UCSU liaison to Student Affairs, said that one of the major functions of a debate is to see how candidates behave under pressure. Fuller said he felt Heath overreacted and lost his cool during the debate.
Heath said he believes that the comments aimed at him reflect the true nature of his opponents on the other tickets.
“I think that it shows that my opponents are scared,” Heath said. “The point of the debate is to spark healthy discussion and not single out individuals.”
Heath was confident that Action said what it needed to say and will do well in the elections this week.
“We just have to go out there and reach out to as many students as we can and we’ll be okay,” Heath said.
The BUFFS ticket also got exposure from the debate. The ticket consists of three sophomores, John Slota, Bryan Browne and Uller Doetsch. None have previous experience in student government, but they don’t think that’s a problem.
“We’re hoping to break in and get the experience we need,” said Sean Phoonswadi, a sophomore international affairs major who manages the Buffs campaign. “We have a strong drive to succeed.”
One aspect of the debate that Phoonswadi was critical of was the audience questions at the end of the debate. He feels as if the BUFFS were challenged directly by a question regarding the diversity and make-up of the various tickets and said the questions should be aimed at all the tickets instead of the audience being able to attack individual tickets with answer-specific questions.
Fuller said he feels as if the Buffs entry into this race might be a bit premature because of their lack of experience.
“I feel like the BUFFS have a sense of drive, but I don’t think they have a handle for what politics is all about,” Fuller said.
Brittni Willis, a freshman psychology major who is running on the Rise ticket, says the BUFFS lack of experience clearly shows in their presentation.
“The BUFFS came off like they were reading off a paper,” Willis said.
Brown supports the Rise ticket, and said he admires the diversity of the group. The candidates are mostly minority students and come from different levels of education and work experience, including a professional student and a graduate student.
“It’s important that UCSU continues to have the broadest representation possible of the student body,” Brown said. “They’re the most representative ticket by far.”
John Ali Sharza, a senior political science major and UCSU director of diversity affairs and campaign manager for the Rise ticket, thought that overall the candidates were more outspoken than in previous years.
“It was an actual debate,” Sharza said.
Contact Campus Press Reporter Rob Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.