Students vying for Student Senate executive positions debated in the Gizmo on Thursday to a crowd that was mostly already affiliated with Senate.
Of a mostly full Gizmo, only a handful didn’t already serve on Senate, and only two staff members were in attendance.
Sustainability and Vice President were the only chairs that saw debate Thursday afternoon — the other seven positions went either uncontested or undebated. For President, Sustainability and Health and Wellness, some candidates didn’t attend, but rather prepared pre-made speeches. Some candidates simply didn’t show up.
To attendees, most surprising was the amount of uncontested positions, including Dining Services Chair. In light of recent conflict and forums, sophomore Alex Davis said he’d like to see more competition. The only candidate was freshman Irene O’Meara Stephenson.
“It’s always better to have a competitive election,” said current president Charlie Harned.
He expressed concern about the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s elections. There are two reasons, he said, why people wouldn’t show up to debates or run for positions: They simply don’t care, or they don’t have the follow-through to campaign themselves.
“Obviously I think it’s the latter option that’s true. I think the students here do care,” he said.
The position with most competition was Diversity Chair. Three of the four candidates vying for the position attended the debate: freshman Deena Helm, sophomore Marissa Arrez and junior Courtney Kayiza. Of the three, none attended Senate Diversity and Inclusivity workshops that were deemed mandatory for all club leaders. Presidents or leaders who didn’t attend didn’t receive club budgets for the 2015-2016 school year.
All three candidates cited scheduling conflicts.
The Diversity candidates discussed what diversity meant to them, and what they thought of the recent move to merge Multicultural Student Orientation with New Student Orientation.
“I think it would be ok to merge the two if we merged ideas and outcomes of the events as well. But if we’re just merging just to merge, I don’t like that at all,” Helm said.
Arrez and Kayiza disagreed, and said the orientations should remains separate.
“The conversation still needs to be had,” Arrez told listeners at the Gizmo.
Despite low candidate attendance, listeners said it won’t change the way they vote.
Davis said he’ll still vote for junior Sanna Sepulveda for Health and Wellness Chair, even though her speech was read out loud in lieu of her attendance at the debates.
“The personal connection really helps. … I feel Tevin [Liao] would be a very competent administrator, while it felt like Caleb [Gumanow] was sometimes schmoozing the audience,” said sophomore Sam Klingher. Gumanow and Liao are competing for president, but Liao, a junior, also sent in a pre-written speech.
Gumanow, a sophomore, argued that he’d like to be president his junior year because he’ll be abroad his senior year. He emphasized the importance of starting new projects and challenging precedent.
“Everything that has been in the past has been the same or constant and efficient but it lacks a lot of ambition,” he told listeners.
Campaigning began following the debates, and polls will open next week. Only freshmen, sophomores and juniors will be eligible to vote.
Tevin Liao ’17, Caleb Gumanow ’18
Shannon Caveny ’17, Jacob Brown ’19
Samuel Cohen ’19
Joel Vageese ’19
Elizabeth Jean Mora ’18
Sally Butzer ’19, Morgan Madderom ’17, James Egan ’18
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Sanna Sepulveda ’17, Kelsie Pos ’17
Irene O’Meara Stephenson ’19
Deena Helm ’19, Marissa Arrez ’18, Courtney Kayiza ’17, Eduardo Wence ’19