Elections preview: candidates prepare for first debate
With student government elections less than a week away, students can look forward to hearing candidates for Student Senate outline their platforms during debates, which will be held today and tomorrow.
Debates for the positions of student body president (SBP) and vice president (SBVP) will be held on Monday from 6–7:20 p.m. in McConomy Auditorium, and debates for student body vice president for finance (SBVPF) and student body vice president for organizations (SBVPO) will be held on Tuesday 6:30–9:30 p.m. in Rangos 3.
Polls will open online March 28 at noon and will close April 2 at 6 p.m.
Two tickets are running for student body president and vice president. Junior biology major Lindsay MacGillivray and sophomore social and decision sciences and philosophy double major Peter Masters are running together; junior mechanical engineering and engineering and public policy double major Thomas Healy and junior business major Caitlin Jones run on the other ticket.
Neither pair has submitted an official platform to the student government elections website.
The candidates for SBVPF are sophomore statistics major Jalen Poteat and sophomore psychology major Joshua Swanson.
While Poteat has not submitted a formal platform to the official elections website, Swanson stated, “One of my first priorities would be to immediately find out how students feel about the various activities offered on campus. I want to know what you want to see more or less of, how you think your money should be allocated, and what groups think about the process involved with applying for, receiving, and using funding.”
He went on to state that he hopes to improve communication between the Joint Funding Committee (JFC) and organizations during the activities budget approval process.
The candidates for SBVPO are sophomore business major Susanna Park, sophomore economics major Radowan Khan, and junior psychology and decision science double major Corinne Rockoff. None of these candidates has submitted a formal platform.
The VPF debate will begin at 6:30 p.m. while the VPO debate is scheduled to begin at 8:00 pm. During these events, the moderator will present candidates with presubmitted questions and give them a limited time to respond.
Additionally, the candidates will have a period where they can openly discuss issues among themselves without restrictions on speaking order or individual time.
Finally, there will be a period where the candidates will accept and answer audience questions.
To run for an executive office, a student must obtain signatures from at least 100 current undergraduate or graduate students.
Candidates for Student Senate must provide a petition with at least 25 signatures from members of their college.
According to the official position descriptions, the SBP must act as “an advocate for Carnegie Mellon students both on and off campus, and oversees the running of the Executive Branch of student government.” The president is assisted in this job by the vice president. The SBVPF is in charge of the Joint Funding Committee, which allocates funding to Carnegie Mellon student organizations.
SBVPO is “responsible for overseeing, advising, and advocating for student organizations,” as well as serving as chair of the Committee on Student Organizations, which oversees the process for recognizing student organizations.
In response to the elections, students stated that they desire student body leaders who understand the community well in order to accurately represent Carnegie Mellon as a whole.
Senior composition major Eric Dietz said, “I think the most important thing in a student body president is someone who knows the CMU community and can engage with many students across our departments and understand their mindsets. Because if you have a good handle on most everything, you can lead sort of from the inside, and I think that’s an important factor.”
First-year international relations and politics major Ariel Lee agreed. “I think the student body president should be someone who recognizes and fairly represents all sectors of our school—someone who knows about different departments, and doesn’t only have one perspective on the community.”
Lee went on to stress the importance of having leaders who understand the tense academic environment of the school.
“Especially in light of recent discussions about CMU’s stress culture, it would be nice to have a leader who realizes that stress is an issue, and be able to help solve that problem. Because the happiness of students is important not only to maximize on our education, but also to help stimulate personal growth.”