Baxter holds College Council debate

CC presidential candidates (L to R: Tyrone Scafe ’17, Frankie Mork ’17, Jonathan Linen ’17, Michelle Bal ’17 and Caitlin Buckley ’17) participate in the CC/Record debate. Grace Flaherty/Photo Editor.

Yesterday at 7 p.m. in Baxter Hall, approximately 50 students attended the College Council (CC) Record Debate. Students leaned over the railing of the second floor to watch from above as the candidates of the upcoming election presented the specifics of their platforms.

Before the candidates for CC president responded to questions about rele-vant issues on campus, those running for the vice presidential positions had the opportunity to speak. Allegra Simon ’18, running on a split ticket with Alex Besser ’17, who is currently abroad, presented the pair’s candidacy for the position of vice president for academic affairs. She expressed her commitment to expanding the Free University catalog, transforming the add/drop period to resemble a true shopping period, revising the Exploring Diversity Initiative and rethinking parking policies.

Benjamin Gips ’19, who is running for vice president for student affairs, focused on how his experience streamlining the listserv system and working with the Deans’ Office to clarify the College’s code of conduct have demonstrated his commitment to accessibility and transparency with respect to the communication between students, faculty and staff. Michael Rubel ’19, the candidate for vice president for operations, expressed the need for the internal administration to run smoothly and declared his commitment to communication and transparency within CC.

While Rubel, Gips, Besser and Simon are running unopposed, the candidates for the positions of vice president for community and diversity and vice president for student organizations are not. Wendy Suiyi Tang ’19, who is running for the position of vice president of community and diversity, stressed three ways she would fill the role: accountability, inclusivity and constructive change. She pledged to make CC a “vehicle for grassroots movements” that produces “social justice and equity.” Chinonso Anokwute ’19, running for the same position, spoke to the importance of “helping improve diversity on campus and bringing forth the change students want to see.”

In the race for vice president for student organizations, Maryanne Masido ’19 emphasized the need to maximize the benefits garnered from the College’s endowment, whereas the split ticket team of Ava Anderson ’18 and Chetan Patel ’18 concentrated on increasing student participation through improving clarity, formalizing intramural sports and increasing access to club information.

CC presidential candidates Michelle Bal ’17 and Caitlin Buckley ’17, Frankie Mork ’17 and Jonathan Linen ’17 and Tyrone Scafe ’17, running with Jonathon Burne ’17, who is studying abroad, sat on stage as moderator and Editor-in-Chief of the Record Zoe Harvan ’17 explained the debate format. It consisted of two-minute personal introductions and three-minute responses to three questions. Subsequently, each ticket was allowed to ask a question of another candidate, eliciting a two-minute answer.

Bal and Buckley aspire to bring about a partnership between Frosh Council, Sophmorientation and CC. They proposed a plan for a new wellness organization on campus as well as an active online portal for student idea submissions. Bal and Buckley advocate for increased dialogue between Campus Safety and students along with increased transparency of CC action.

Over the course of the night, Mork and Linen emphasized the need for campus-wide participation in student government.

“People need to be less apathetic and more engaged,” Linen said. “We truly believe that this campus is full of a lack of understanding; people need to be willing to engage in conversation and listen to opinions that are not their own.”

They asserted that their “excitement, passion and strong work ethic” would make up for their lack of CC experience and that face-to-face interactions and transparency would be crucial elements of their plans moving forward. 

Scafe discussed plans to connect three bodies of student government (CC, the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and the Minority Coalition) in an attempt “to use collaborative methods to reach practical goals.” When asked about the most pressing issue on campus, he addressed the need to change the way mental health is addressed. He also described the need to combat the lack of institutional knowledge of CC as a governing body, proposing accessibility through a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

Though the histrionics associated with the U.S. presidential debates of the 2016 election cycle were absent from Baxter Hall on Monday night, the candidates still drew a sizable body of potential voters to hear their plans for the upcoming semester; most seating in Baxter was occupied. Platforms varied from candidate to candidate, but all were unified in encouraging students to vote. Polls open at 4 p.m. on Thursday and close at 8 p.m. on Saturday.   

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