News

Student body presidential candidates debate positions

Watch the Candidates

Justin Berka and Kelly Duncan
Daniel Horbatt and Alan Eaton
Karl Sjogren and Andrea Hamilton

The Debate Addendance

31 people were in the audience. A total of 37 people were in the room in total, including the candidate teams.
Currently, 7997 students are eligible to vote at CMU. The 35 eligible students in the room represented 0.44 percent of the student body able to vote.
30 percent of the people in attendance were members of The Tartan’s staff (11 of 37).
43 percent of people in attendance were from campus media organizations (16 of 37).

Public attention was ironically the theme for the sparsely attended student government forum last Tuesday. The three executive tickets running in this year’s election for student body president and vice-president debated with each other in preparation for the student government elections to be held today and tomorrow.

While only approximately 30 students attended the forum in Hamburg Hall 1000, each presidential and vice-presidential candidate remained confident that he or she would be — and already is — well known on campus.

“People will definitely be able to identify who we are,” said vice-presidential candidate Andrea Hamilton. Hamilton is running with presidential candidate Karl Sjogren.

Kelly Duncan, vice-presidential running mate to Justin Berka, agreed. “We want to make sure we’re a visible presence on campus,” said Duncan. “And people already know who we are.”

The third executive ticket, led by Daniel Horbatt with running mate Alan Eaton, agreed that being accessible and in the public eye are important for the role of executives.

The three executive tickets covered topics ranging from their policies toward public art on campus to whether each voted for the Students’ Bill of Rights.

Eaton summarized the differences between the executive tickets: “The hardest thing is that we’re all driven people. You see the platform and the tickets and you think, ‘What are the differences?’ The differences are subtle.”

Daniel Horbatt and Alan Eaton

Horbatt is a junior in electrical and computer engineering. He is a member of Kappa Delta Rho and has been an active member on the Campus Life Committee of Student Senate.

Eaton is a sophomore civil engineering major. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity and a member of the Joint Funding Committee of Senate.

Horbatt and Eaton stressed that they will mostly continue the work of current president Tom Sabram and vice-president Nicolette Louissaint.

“There’s only so much you accomplish in a year,” Horbatt said. “If you set something up, and the next person doesn’t follow up with that, then it’s kind of a waste of time.”

The ticket plans to attend several campus organization meetings, Graduate Student Assembly meetings, and Student Senate meetings every week.

“This is one of the things we have to do to maintain a finger on the pulse of the community,” Horbatt said. “The faster you find the problems the easier they are to deal with.”

Horbatt and Eaton said that their running platform is generic enough to appeal to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Parking spaces and the activities fee are two issues that Horbatt and Eaton hope to address. The two plan on setting up focus groups and brainstorming sessions to think of ways to address the issues.

“We don’t have a direct solution for any of these right now,” he said. “We’re working with finite resources.”

The ticket also plans to address absenteeism among Student Senators. Eaton said he wants to make Senators more accountable for their actions.

Horbatt and Eaton will unveil their new plan to gather student information along with their issue platform. Horbatt titled the plan “Flash opinion mob.”

In this plan, the pair plans to visit the high-traffic area outside Doherty Hall and offer students cookies if they give their opinions on what they feel needs to be changed on campus.

“I think of any candidate, we’re the ones who tackle things the hardest,” Horbatt said. “We have the best ideas.”

Justin Berka and Kelly Duncan

Berka is a junior Science and Humanities Scholar and economics major. He will be entering the accelerated masters program through the Heinz School next year.

Duncan is a sophomore with majors in physics and math.

Berka and Duncan feel their ticket is the strongest because of experience. “The other people may have a year on us, but we’ve got a lot of experience in many different organizations,” Duncan said.

“We feel we’re probably the most connected campaign ticket. We’re going to be able to get things done,” Berka said. “If you ask people, there probably won’t be many who disagree.”

Berka said that he was most proud of his work as Student Dormitory Council president, as a member of the Carnival Committee, and as a sexual assault advisor.

Duncan is currently an active member of Student Senate and is on the Joint Funding Committee.

At the time of their interview, the candidates did not have their platform finished. Berka and Duncan addressed the most important points of their intended platform, which included facilitating communication with administrators and addressing current plans to increase the student activities fee.

Berka and Duncan said that communication is not open enough between administrators, Senators, and students on campus.

“As a Student Senator you only have so much power,” Duncan said, “and that really bothers me.”

Berka and Duncan said they will work to abolish night and weekend parking fees, as well as get the University shuttle service to run more often for graduate students.

Berka and Duncan also want to address public art on campus and to put minors back onto diplomas.

Karl Sjogren and Andrea Hamilton

Sjogren is a junior majoring in social and decision sciences and human-computer interaction. Next year, Sjogren will be entering the Heinz School as a member of the accelerated masters program in public policy.

Hamilton is a junior in the Bachelor’s of Humanities and Arts program and majoring in ethics, history, and public policy.

Sjogren and Hamilton said they hope to approach the job as president and vice-president uniquely. “Our definition of being an executive is a two-part one: One, having a positive vision for campus, and two, having the ability to accomplish goals on campus,” Sjogren said.

Sjogren and Hamilton’s platform focuses on three main issues: improving campus facilities, increasing communication among students and administrators, and addressing the needs of graduate and undergraduate students.

The running mates said they have been focusing on improving campus facilities through their work on Student Senate.

“I’ve been trying to set up a test trial for TiVos in the dorms,” Sjogren said, “That way RAs could make watching particular TV shows a group activity when everyone has free time.”

Sjogren and Hamilton are also trying make campus administrators more accountable for their actions by requiring them to communicate regularly with students.

The running mates made reference to the administration’s actions concerning public art. “It robs the students of a feeling of ownership of their campus, because they never know what’s going on,” Hamilton said.

The candidates also stressed their desire to strengthen Greek Council. “As a whole, the only outlet that all of the Greek community has is Greek Council,” Sjogren said.

Hamilton agreed, saying, “It would be great if there were a Greek fund instead of just particular house funds.”

Sjogren and Hamilton said that overall, their platform is not about enacting major differences on campus. Instead, the ticket wants to listen to students to see what needs to be changed.

“We will be in touch and responsive to, and responsible for what students want and need,” Hamilton said.