April 19, 2013

Slate, liaison candidates face off in SG debate

Tiffany Tan / The Chicago Maroon

Candidates for slate and liaison positions in the upcoming SG elections debated methods to increase student influence on the Board of Trustees, the accessibility and effectiveness of student petitions to the administration, and the recently publicized allegations made against Ignite slate’s presidential candidate, second-year Yusef Al-Jarani, last night.

Before the slates discussed their platforms, Elections and Rules Committee (E&R) moderator and third-year Hope Yao offered the slates two minutes to respond to a recent Maroon article that discussed the allegations of election misconduct against Al-Jarani. Yao said that, following the responses, the Maroon article would not be brought up again during the debate.

“The response to the information in the [article] has opened doors to personal attacks that take away from the issues that I want to talk about today,” Al-Jarani said. “The fact that there has been no penalty [from] the E&R speaks to the strength of the allegations.”

Second-year Raymond Dong, UChicaGOLD candidate for vice president of student affairs, said that he and Al-Jarani had been roommates and best friends for the past two years and that he would not do anything to “defame the morals, campaigns, or platform” of Al-Jarani. He also said that he did not agree with the Maroon’s decision to write the article and that he tried to stop the article from being published.

Impact presidential candidate third-year Michael McCown chose not to comment on the issue.

Moose Party candidate first-year Jacob Silverman said he did not care enough to form coalitions with other candidates, and that the other platforms cared too much about SG. Because of this, he claimed that the Moose Party is the “most honest slate.”

UChicaGOLD and Ignite slates stressed the importance of increased collaboration and communication between student groups. Ignite proposed weekly meetings with RSOs with a special focus on major issues on campus, while UChicaGOLD proposed increasing student representation of houses, RSOs, fraternities, and sororities within SG as opposed to individual meetings.

“We want to hear more from the average members of the student body, and adding representatives would make that easier and SG more transparent.” Dong said. “Adding representatives would be more efficient than us as three people having to go to each RSO meeting every week.”

Although both Ignite and UChicaGOLD expressed a desire to improve student awareness of petitions to the administration, McCown questioned the value of student petitions and their ability to sway the administration.

“I see the petition as a way of SG officials avoiding taking a position on major issues. It shows you don’t care about issues and that you are relying on students to take a stance,” he said.

The Moose Party, composed of three representatives from Delta Upsilon fraternity, campaigned for increasing funding for shuttles that would fit through drive-thrus, “suns out, guns out,” the No. 1 Left Behind initiative, and jet skis for students traveling across Lake Michigan.

After an hour of debate among the slates, the five candidates running for liaison positions were given time to speak.

Second-year Brendan Leonard, third-year Joanna Kadieva, and first-years Thomas Remissong and Holly Rapp all discussed the need for more open communication between the Board and students.

Third-year Rohan Manthani, the incumbent liaison, said his past experience working with members of the Board of Trustees and his current relationships with members could not be substituted with other experiences.

First-year M.B.A. student Navin Manjooran, the only candidate for the graduate liaison to the Board of Trustees at the time of the debate, said that the biggest issues graduate students faced included health care and funding.

First-year Christina Dong, the only candidate for community and government liaison at the time of the debate, stated her intention to introduce office hours for SG representatives, days of service that would bring various community service RSOs together, and campus-wide socials at Logan.

SG elections begin Tuesday at 9 a.m. and end Thursday at 5 p.m.