Sometimes you need more than ‘engagement': Vice-presidential debate recap
Last night, the five GUSA vice-presidential hopefuls gathered in White-Gravenor to exchange their ideas on how to best serve student interests as well as convince students why they should vote for their ticket. Here are some of the highlights.
In the opening address, each candidate laid out his or her approach to GUSA and whatever major goals he or she hopes to achieve.
Most candidates cited his or her ticket’s experience with GUSA or SAC and echoed the sentiments of Joe Vandegriff (COL ’14) when he called for more GUSA involvement with campus improvement. “GUSA has to be that mobilizing force for all students, so, when the administration tries to take away our rights, we say, ‘no,’” he said.
Questions from campus media representatives followed. Vox asked the candidates to evaluate the administration of GUSA executives Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) and to explain what they would have done differently. The candidates all approved the previous administration, especially for their work changing the evidentiary standard for on-campus infractions to clear and convincing. Robert Silverstein (SFS ’14), like many of the other candidates, said that more should be done to increase the burden of proof for off-campus conduct violations. “Right now, we have two different groups of our community, which are held to two completely different standards. I’m talking about the on-campus community and the off-campus community,” he said.
The next question gave Andrew Logerfo (COL ’14) an opportunity to explain a lot of the unorthodox aspects of his campaign. A representative from GUTV asked Logerfo how we can take him seriously when his platform includes a “Rat Attack Challenge.” Logerfo explained that that aspect of his platform is meant to bring attention to a serious issue in an unconventional way. “[Rats] present a terrible image for our otherwise beautiful campus. After 6:00, don’t go outside or you might get hit by a rat. The real goal behind this is to shove the issue into the face of the administration,” Logerfo said.
The Hoya asked the candidates why they were running for vice president specifically, as opposed to running for president. Maggie Cleary (COL ’14) said that her running mate, Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14), has more direct experience with SAC. “We decided that Jack would be best on the top of the ticket, because he has the most funding experience, putting him in the best place to tackle funding reform,” she said.
SAC funding reform would end up being perhaps the single largest issue of the debate. When GUTV asked what the candidates would do to reform SAC, nearly every candidate had their own plan. Vandegriff reiterated that his leadership of the College Democrats gave him firsthand knowledge of SAC’s problems from a student group leader’s perspective. “The fundamental problem [with SAC] is that groups are going to ask for more than they need, because they know they are only going to get a percentage of what they ask for,” Vandegriff said. “Regardless of what the system you put in place is like, you have to find a way to make groups accountable for what they ask for.”
Cleary called for an extensive reworking of SAC to put it in line with students’ standards. “SAC is still broken,” Cleary said. “After his year as SAC Commissioner Chair, Jack came to the conclusion that it cannot be completely fixed, and the only solution is to rehaul and redo the funding system.”
Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) disagreed with Cleary, saying that SAC can be improved with smaller changes. In particular, Ramadan feels that SAC lacks the specialization of knowledge which makes other funding groups at Georgetown far more successful. “There is no specialization when SAC has 100 plus student groups that have almost nothing in common, all being pooled together under one organization,” Ramadan said.
Silverstein argued that bringing down the costs associated with reserving space on campus would not only leave student groups with more money, but would also make tickets for events cheaper for students.
The candidates could all agree on one thing about SAC though. “SAC isn’t a good name for anything,” Logerfo said, prompting applause from the audience.
Ramadan later answered The Hoya’s question “What is the foremost institutional tension facing Georgetown?” by citing Georgetown’s outdated free speech code. “Rather than have all of campus be a non-free speech zone and have Red Square be the only free speech zone, flip it. Have all of campus be a free speech zone and have 6 or 7 or 8 ‘protected zones’ on campus,” Ramadan said.
Logerfo felt that the biggest area of tension lied in the way the University has poor regard for some aspects of student life. Logerfo said that the meal plan should include more dining options.
The final area of discussion was diversity at Georgetown. The candidates all readily agreed that there are too many “Georgetowns” at Georgetown, divided by race and cultural background, and that more needs to be done to promote interaction between them.
Ramadan devised a proposal to “randomly match up groups together” during service days, which would “start a lot of conversations, which otherwise wouldn’t happen.”
Vox wasn’t able to stream the debate live yesterday but will be working on that for the presidential debate next Monday.
Photos: Miles Gavin Meng/Georgetown Voice