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2008 Winter Issue 7 (February 22, 2008)

CSA candidate debates launch election

February 22, 2008
By Cristina Sainati

Forty students attended the Carleton Student Association’s debates for Presidential, Vice Presidential, Treasure, and Senators-at-Large Candidates on Wednesday night in Sayles Hill.

Presidential Candidate Ben Barclay ‘09 opened the presidential debate at 7:30 pm declaring that he “is certain that change is in the air.” Reflecting on the earlier Vice Presidential and Senator debates, he differentiated himself, saying that he would not rely on “stubborn decisiveness” in order to get things done. He’ll look toward the last three presidents under which he has served and “combine and mimic” them, he said. Referring to the office hours he held last week, he noted that he would try to be more open.

Barclay stressed his desire for a sustainable campus. When asked after the debate what he thought about the recent disbandment of CRIC he said he thought that the organization was “integral” to Carleton’s sustainability as a campus and that as President he would support students who wanted to reinvigorate it. When asked about the MPIRG Refusable/Refundable fee, Barclay noted that the organization addresses issues that “are not endorsed by the entire student body. Although this is certainly true for several other chartered CSA organizations with funding,” he said, the fund was flexible and students who disagreed could request their refund. In his closing statement, Barclay encouraged students to vote. He said, “The CSA becomes more and more powerful the more people vote.”

Caitlin Fleming ’09 spoke next and declared that if elected, she would represent a wide variety of groups. She stressed her belief in focusing the CSA’s “efforts on a few salient issues at a time, so as to leave room for student opinion and new issues as they arise.” Adding to her platform later in the debate, Fleming explained that “sustainability isn’t the only issue, and we should be mindful of that when we choose which sustainability projects we should be focusing on.” Fleming said that her time serving as a senator reminds her of her time playing Rugby and that the activity would help her mediate and lead the CSA. Both playing rugby and serving in the CSA, she said, were voluntary, hard work, involved listening to diverse opinions. Fleming promised that she would be “willing to bite the bullet, make some decisions, and get things done.”

Marshall McDonald ’09, the last Presidential Candidate to introduce himself, called for a president that is a leader. “That’s what we need right now,” he said. Detailing his leadership style, McDonald took issue with the speaking time limits and the rigid format of current CSA meetings. “That’s great for time management,” he said, but “time management is outdated.” He went on to emphasize that he deals not so much with time but with people, and this belief will influence how he runs CSA meetings. He stressed that he “offers warmth, openness and accessibility.” Furthermore, he “has the courage to listen to challenges and listen to disagreements.”

Before the Presidential debate, the sole Treasurer Candidate, Sam Ritter ’10, and Vice Presidential Candidates Pablo Kenney ’09 and Alex Popper ’10 participated in their own debate.

Facing no competition, Ritter opened the debate by saying that he hoped he could follow the tradition of past treasurers. He wanted to continue to make “students feel comfortable asking for their own money” and make sure that money is not distributed according to the student’s knowledge of the CSA rules but the quality of their requests.

Kenney, opening for the Vice Presidential Candidates, reviewed his issues of importance, which are improving the Wellness Center; monitoring responsible budget allocation to Club Sports; opening up the CSA; and improving the Career Center. “Students should leave [Carleton] with jobs,” he said. While Kenney suggested a monthly town hall meeting for student organizations, he emphasized the difference between just listening and making changed. “What’s hard,” he said, “is to make changes.” He said that together with the President and the Treasurer, he hoped to “create the pressure necessary to get things done.” When asked, after the debate about how he would change the lack of communication between the administration and students, Kenney noted that it was the Senators’ “obligation” to act as liaison, however, “we will not gain anything from the administration by badgering them and, as some candidates have proposed, ‘putting our foot down.’” When asked about his position on the Reusable/ Refundable MPIRG fee, he said that “as long as the students support [it], then I will as well.”

Popper introduced himself by giving out his phone number, stressing his desire to hear directly from students. He also listed his issues of importance, citing getting credit for Club Sports; improving the Wellness Center; facilitating communication between students and the administration; supporting sustainability; and helping student organizations get chartered. Popper said that he felt the Vice President’s “role was to create dialogue.”

In the debate, Popper challenged Kenney over his approach to improving the Wellness Center. He noted that the reviews, which his opponent suggested as a way to make change in the Wellness Center, were a “lengthy” process, and he asked Kenney if he had any “immediate solutions.” Kenney proceeded to describe how he would pressure the administration to give the Wellness Center more money, saying that right now “the Wellness Center doesn’t have the money to make any improvement” even though they want to.

The two candidates also expressed different opinions regarding the budget committee’s shortfalls. Kenney emphasized that excluding himself, and two others, the whole committee was made of new members. He stressed that the budget committee needed people with experience. “I know I made silly votes when I was a freshman too,” he said. Popper disagreed, saying that the committee needed “not so much experience as new ideas.”


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