The Tartan endorses student executive candidates
Endorsements are tricky.
We at The Tartan have read the candidates’ platforms, interviewed each of them, hosted the debates, and worked with many of the candidates within our own organization and through covering student government over the past year. An endorsement of a candidate compiles all of this knowledge and provides an additional, or possibly the only, reason for a student to vote for a candidate.
We have already described in recent issues the lack of general student body interest in student government and the vacancies in Undergraduate Student Senate this year, and we attempted early in the election season to convince you that student government is in fact important and worth paying attention to. Whether or not we have succeeded in these goals, we will now explain our own evaluation of the candidates and the reasons for the following endorsements.
Student Body Vice President for Organizations: Aaron Gross
You might cynically say: Well, of course we should endorse Gross; he is the only candidate running for this position. We would not endorse him if we were not confident that he deserved our votes. Gross has been an active member of a number of clubs and organizations on campus, as well as an excellent leader for Undergraduate Student Senate. He is thorough, meticulous, and organized, and he has a strong and compelling vision for the role of the VPO. Moreover, he is extremely personable and will be easily approachable for all of the varied student organizations that will benefit from his direction next year. All of these things are evidenced in his long and detailed platform. While we likely believe that setting forth 14 different platform initiatives — many of which are large and complex projects in their own right — presents a challenge for a candidate to live up to, if anyone can accomplish most of these projects, it is certainly Gross. We have complete faith that he is the perfect person to define the future for organizations at Carnegie Mellon.
Student Body Vice President for Finance: Eric Wu
With Robert Piston withdrawing from the race, we are left with two remaining VPF candidates to select from: Shanel Buchanan and Eric Wu. While Buchanan and Wu have both served on the Joint Funding Committee, a major component of the role of the VPF, their other work differentiates them. Buchanan’s platform was nearly non-existent; her answers at the debate, while competent, were lacking vision; and she has not solidly pulled from her experience as the treasurer of other organizations. On the other hand, Wu’s experience with Student Senate as well as his clear vision for continuing current VPF Nara Kasbergen’s goals of growing the JFC are well prepared, and we believe he will provide strong leadership for the JFC. We do question his plan to interview JFC reps as a part of the application process, as it is already difficult to find potential representatives. However, we are interested to see how he will work to separate the role of VPF from solely chair of the JFC to a larger student-advocacy role regarding university finances.
Student Body President
Finally, for the role of student body president, we have decided not to endorse a candidate. As described, we endorse candidates whom we believe deserve your votes. Unfortunately, this year we believe none of the three tickets have presented a compelling case for their candidacy. Each of the three has advantages and disadvantages, with none standing significantly above the others.
Casey Brander and Matt Sandler have provided a spectacle we have not witnessed in recent years. They are stark, honest, derisive, and pro-cyborg. While some have attacked them for mocking the process or turning democracy into performance art, they have followed every rule and made their method work within the system. They have brought a fresh perspective to the elections, but they have not shown a clear grasp of the issues or a commitment to the goals of the student body. As much as we actually would enjoy two-ply bathroom toilet paper, we don’t believe their platform or their experience is enough to back them in this election.
Michael Surh and Micah Rosa excelled in the debate. They were well spoken, able to explain their innovative platform, and showed an understanding of this campus as well as student government. However, even with new and creative ideas, we are not sure a website and employment opportunities are what we need student government to focus on over the next year. Their platform and background is different, also in a way we haven’t seen before. It is conservative, fiscally focused, and likely not what the student body is seeking.
Jarrett Adams and Kate Smith should have captured our endorsement easily. With Adams’ student government experience (the only candidate with any) and Smith’s committed involvement in Greek life, the pair seems to be the obvious choice. However, their performance at the debates was weak, their answers vague, and ideas even less clear. Reading their extensive platform is an exercise in double-speak. They want reform but give no examples; they want more lectures, more Greek involvement, more unity, and more transparency, but at no point do they explain how they will achieve any of these goals. They might have the most experience, but they have the least substance.