Candidates Debate

By Tracy Zupancis Hoya Staff Writer

GUSA presidential and vice-presidential candidates participated in a debate Thursday night, answering questions posed by representatives of the student media.

Each pair opened by briefly outlining their platform and ideas key to their respective campaigns.

Write-in presidential candidate Tawan Davis (COL ’01) said that he and his vice-presidential candidate Jacques Arsenault (COL ’01) are focusing on “thinking outside of the box” and taking a different approach to addressing issues such as housing, diversity and academic reform.

Presidential candidate Joe Morrow (SFS ’01) and running mate Andrew Katz (COL ’01) said that they are running because they have witnessed many people both in and out of GUSA struggling to improve Georgetown and that they see themselves, orrow said, as being able to “bring the most to students in their day to day lives.” The ticket highlighted a need for better efficiency when examining housing, diversity and academic issues.

Presidential candidate Jamal Epps (COL ’01) and Jeff Burns (COL ’01) stressed the importance of opening lines of communication between students and administrators. The pair also said that GUSA should focus on developing a better campus community with the increased student space which will become available when the Southwest Quadrangle is completed.

Presidential Candidate Ryan Erlich (SFS ’01) and Keavney Klein (NUR ’02) both spoke about the importance of putting a student representative on the university’s board of directors. “It’s going to happen,” said Erlich. The pair reiterated the issues raised by other candidates, such as diversity and housing concerns.

A strengthened relationship between students and alumni was stressed by presidential candidate Catie Sheehan (COL ’01) and running mate Meg Troller (MSB ’01). “We want to make a difference,” said Sheehan, who pointed to increased funding for student activities as imperative to the community.

Hector Lopez (SFS ’01) and vice-presidential running mate Marc Valadao (SFS ’02) explained their formulation of a working agenda and encouraged students to contribute their opinions about GUSA on their campaign Web site.

“We want to make sure kids have a good time here again,” said presidential candidate Paul Stroka (SFS ’02), emphasizing that he and running mate Dan Ryan (MSB ’02) are not of the typical GUSA mold.

Ryan DuBose (SFS ’02) and Brendan McIntyre (COL ’02) explained that their platform rests on making the entire community happy through a constant supply of chicken fingers. In this manner, they say, students can gather as a group in lines for chicken and form a cohesive community. “Chicken fingers every night, hell yeah, that’s all right,” the pair chanted.

The first question posed to the candidates concerned the effectiveness of the SLRG era in GUSA and the referendum passed at that time.

Klein said that the referenda highlighted many concerns that have come to the foreground in this particular campaign, such as diversity, but that there remains much work to be done.

Davis set forth the opinion that if the referendum had been successful, groups such as the Georgetown Solidarity Committee and the Georgetown Unity Coalition would not have been necessary because GUSA would have already addressed the issues in an active manner.

Both Sheehan and Lopez agreed that the GUSA diversity committee should not exist merely on an ad hoc basis but should be a constant voice for the group in diversity issues. Lopez emphasized that his role in the Unity Coalition had shown him the need for a constant dialogue concerning diversity on campus.

The candidates were asked to comment on a hypothetical situation involving the ramifications of students storming the court after a basketball victory.

Stroka responded by noting that his role in leading Georgetown students onto the court at MCI Center at a Hoyas basketball game in February had caused no destruction of property but was instead the first time he had seen such an impressive display of school spirit. “No candidate would support destruction of property,” Stroka said.

Answering a question concerning the recent disputes over GUSA rules, Epps and Burns explained that they want to review the many different GUSA constitutions and mold them into a cohesive unit so that the organization can run more smoothly.

Klein said that the structure of GUSA can work, but that the group should be willing to expand and foster dialogue with student groups such as InterHall. She added that GUSA representatives and executives should also listen and communicate with the students.

In answer to the question of how to best distribute funds for student groups, Davis explained that groups should have control over their guest funds. Funding, Davis explained, should be spread among many groups. “We shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket,” he said.

Morrow and Katz said that funding should be decided on a case by case basis and considerations for fund allocation should include examining which groups have other avenues of funding available. They noted the possibility of GUSA sponsoring incentives for independent fundraising by matching funds independently raised by student organizations.

All candidates agreed that GUSA-administration communication must improve and lamented the lack of funding and space for club sports.

Candidates were asked to respond to the accusations posed by fliers posted on campus, which criticized GUSA for not taking action on the housing issue, the firing of the Protestant chaplains, the lack of funding for African studies while Australian studies was supported and the apathetic response to university relations with the Fair Labor Association.

Davis agreed that GUSA has as of yet done “little to nothing” about these issues, and promised change in these areas and concrete action. Morrow and Katz agreed and stressed the necessity for GUSA reach out to students. Epps and Burns noted that cohesion on such issues needs to be fostered by a strong executive pair, while Erlich said that all the issues raised by the flier “include one thing: money.” Erlich explained that he and Klein have been supporters of more active undertakings on such issues in the past and promised that they would continue to fight. Sheehan noted the importance of faculty, alumni, student and parental support of GUSA in order to address complex campus issues. Lopez said that the same ideas were being recycled by each of the candidates and stressed the need to work with, not against, the administration.

DuBose and McIntyre led the crowd in a cheer in support of chicken fingers.

Candidates were asked a closing question of whether or not they considered themselves politicians. Stroka and Ryan said they see themselves as a part of the community more than as politicians, and Lopez and Valadao said that they have tried to stay away from politics. Troller says that she does not consider herself a politician, while Sheehan said that she and Troller just want to do a good job in office. Klein and Erlich said that if being a politician involves a desire to bring the community together, then they are politicians. Burns said that by running, each candidate is at least in part a politician. Morrow said that he dedicates himself to whatever he does, political or not, while Davis said that every other week of the year but this one he is not a politician.

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