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While President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney squared off in New York, another important debate was happening on the CU campus Tuesday evening.
The fall student government election is looming, and candidates from the two opposing parties, Inspire and Pulse, discussed university-related issues in Humanities 150 at 7 p.m. CUSG’s election commissioner, John Michael Thistle, served as the moderator.
Pulse was the victorious party in the previous election and hopes to maintain control of various student government posts, while Inspire is newly-formed.
Candidates vying for the position of Representative-at-Large in the Arts and Sciences Student Government (ASSG), a section of CUSG, began the debate. The Inspire team consisted of Coco Wham, Katherine McManus, Tyler Hallmark and Ashley Prince. The Pulse team’s candidates were Magnolia Landa-Posas, Melissa Mac Farlane, Jerome Castillon, Anthony Veiller and David Zimmerman.
Thistle, whose job before, during and after the election is to oversee the campaigning and results, outlined the debate’s format: three-minute answers to the initial questions, with two-minute rebuttals from the other party and two minutes for closing statements from each. His first question to the candidates was a general one: What did they think was the most important responsibility of the student government?
“To advocate for a large student body,” Pulse’s David Zimmerman said, adding that the promotion of diversity was also a priority.
Fellow Pulse candidate Jerome Castillon’s response was a reflection of Zimmerman’s.
“To listen and hear what all students have to say, especially those who are underrepresented,” Castillon said.
Inspire’s platform has three main components, according to Wham, McManus, Hallmark and Prince — to inspire transparency, safety and affordability.
“At the end of the day, we want a better CU as a whole,” Inspire’s Ashley Prince said in response to Thistle’s question of how the party would handle working with members of the opposition. “Compromise is very important.”
The ASSG candidates had trouble distinguishing themselves, with both parties agreeing on the importance of student groups and utilizing cost-efficient funding methods. During the time used to make closing statements, a period Thistle referred to as “open season,” they struggled to define their parties. Coco Wham said she hoped that Inspire would help “send [students] out into a world they’re prepared to live in,” and Inspire’s Tyler Hallmark said that safety would be emphasized, specifically passing a resolution to install more lights on the Hill — a major part of the platform Pulse ran on last election.
Pulse cited the “creation of more student groups” and the ticket’s “history as underdogs” as elements for potential success in student government. While neither party made much of an impact, the ASSG candidates set the stage for what would be a measured but intense exchange between the CUSG candidates — Harmann Bajwa, Chelsea Miller, Antonio Bricca, Martin Miramontes and Benjamin Leeds for Pulse, and Wesley Montag, Alexis Scobie, Lauren Kuhn, Maddison Saavedra and Nate Wallshein for Inspire.
The most heated moments of the debate regarded the allocation of student fees. Inspire stressed their desire for lower student fees, going along with a better allotment of funds and resources. Pulse stated that though they want to cut overall costs, they don’t want to cut down on the funding of cost centers and student groups; they accused Inspire of wanting to do so and were met with a rebuttal.
“We’ll be looking to find inefficiencies in the cost centers,” Inspire’s Scobie said.
Later on, Montag highlighted the importance of finances as a part of the Inspire platform, citing the allocation of money as their number one job.
“This isn’t about social issues,” he said. “We are a student body government.”
Darcy Urban, a 21-year-old senior art history major, attended the event with an open mind.
“I think both sides make good points,” Urban said. “They both want to serve the school, but they have very different ways about doing it. I think it’s a little hard, because Inspire is a newer ticket. Since Pulse has a background, I feel like they were more prepared, because they have prior experience.”
Jared Willey, a 22-year-old fifth-year senior ethnic studies major, was undecided about who he felt won and expressed concerns that many questions were not getting answered.
“Both sides actually sounded like they were talking about the same things,” Willey said. “It’s a little hard to tell if there was an exact winner. When certain questions were asked, I didn’t feel like there was ever an answer. There was a little bit of a villainization of the opponents, and that doesn’t really prove a point.”
Thistle considered the debate a success and was impressed by the performances of the candidates from each side.
“The candidates shined,” Thistle said. “This event was full of substance. For both sides, there was continuous proof that each of these candidates is suited right now to be a great student leader. Whoever wins will deserve to win and they started to make that known tonight.”
The CUSG Fall 2012 elections will take place from Oct. 22-26. For more information on the upcoming elections and CUSG, visit cusg.colorado.edu. For more information on ASSG, visit http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/assg/.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alyx Saupe at Alyx.email@example.com.