Presidential candidates square off in debate

    Candidates for the A.S. presidency convened in Price Center Plaza on Thursday to tackle impending undergraduate issues for the upcoming 2002-03 school year. While the event was billed as a debate, there was little dialogue or confrontation between the candidates due to the format implemented by the elections committee.

    Lyon Liew
    Guardian

    In the debate, candidates were each allotted one minute to answer the question presented to them by mediator Kyle Biebesheimer. Once every candidate replied, they were each permitted an additional minute to respond to answers given by their opponents.

    The debate format was intended to spark some confrontation between the contenders, Biebesheimer said. The response round was employed so that a candidate had the opportunity to politely disagree or even lambaste another candidate’s stance on an issue.

    “”The elections committee wanted to mix up the format a bit to try to get some direct debating between the candidates,”” Biebesheimer said. “”Unfortunately, the new format was not as effective as we thought.””

    For the most part, the debaters shied away from this opportunity to challenge their opponents and stuck strictly to informing the audience of their thoughts and ideas about the issues. Candidates did begin to respond directly to statements made by their opponents as the debate progressed, however mildly.

    Another facet of the debate format provided that candidates were given the debate questions prior to the event. According to Biebesheimer, candidates were given the opportunity to research the topics so that the event could run smoothly without candidates struggling to find answers.

    Some debate attendees found the candidates’ statements to be too rehearsed and lacking the spontaneity they wished to see.

    “”It was almost like [the candidates] were reading up there,”” said Jason Korniski, a sophomore at Earl Warren College. “”They should know the issues off the top of their head if someone was to just come up and ask them, so why should this debate be any different?””

    Nonetheless, the five candidates — Jenn Brown of Students First, Dave Hansen of New Wave, Phil Palisoul of TOGAA, Colin Parent of Action, and independent Sam Shahmardi — took the stage at Price Center Plaza to address the crowd that was in the area eating lunch. Slate members were in the audience, donning colorful slate T-shirts and wielding noisemakers and poster boards.

    Topics presented to the candidates included the right to freedom of speech on campus versus the hate-free UCSD Principles of Community, funding priorities, possible methods to further promote spirit within the campus community, the athletics fee referendum, the undergraduate parking dilemma, and Housing and Dining Services’ controversial “”one-rate”” plan.

    Brown used the forum primarily to voice her support for student organizations.

    “”Student organizations are the heart and soul of this campus,”” she said. “”As president, I will continue to fight for these student organizations at UCSD.””

    Brown, who currently serves as vice president internal on the A.S. Council, suggested that a Price Center expansion via a fee referendum would help add valuable office space out of which student organizations could operate.

    Hansen, who plays on the UCSD golf team, stressed the need to support intercollegiate athletics.

    “”Some people say, ‘Oh, I don’t want athletics [at UCSD], it’s going to ruin the academic integrity,'”” Hansen said. “”Well have you ever heard of schools named ‘Stanford’ or ‘Duke’? As far as I know, they do pretty well in athletics, and they are pretty good academic schools too.””

    “”Big Wave Dave,”” as his campaign advertisements read, shared his ideas of a Greek housing task force and a more financially accountable A.S. Council.

    Palisoul made the debate an opportunity to display his outspoken personality and his desire to liven up the campus experience at UCSD.

    “”What this campus needs is an asshole,”” Palisoul said. “”We need someone who is willing to fight for the students 24-7, day in and day out. I am that asshole.””

    Palisoul introduced the audience to “”TOGAA’s contract with the students of UCSD,”” a list of 10 actions he promises to carry out if elected. Among the provisions included in the contract are the lengthening of Sun God to a three-day multicultural festival of arts and music. Palisoul is also opposed to freshmen resident parking privileges on west campus.

    Parent, who currently serves as the A.S. commissioner of services and enterprises, introduced a platform that includes expanding Triton Taxi to run from Wednesday to Saturday nights, creating voting spots on A.S. Council for “”at-large”” representatives of student organizations, and the backing of the impending “”antibias initiative.””

    “”‘Our campus is divided.’ Those are words. Action is doing something about it,”” Parent said. One solution he mentioned was the creation of a student summit next fall, where members of organizations could share ideas among themselves as well as with other students.

    Shahmardi, also known as “”Sam I Am,”” embraced the fact that he is running for office without the backing of any slate or A.S. Council experience.

    “”The A.S., in my opinion, isn’t supposed to stand for ‘Associated Slates’,”” Shahmardi said, “”but Associated Students. I, as a student, think we need to upgrade this campus in many ways.””

    Shahmardi reiterated throughout the debate that a good student government needs to represent students’ needs on an individual level.

    “”No one should be punished just because they’re not involved in a student organization. Funding should be available for everybody.””

    By and large, all five candidates advocated the need for more support for athletics, both financially and in spirit from the campus community. The candidates also unanimously opposed the implementation of “”one-rate,”” Housing and Dining Services’ plan for mandatory uniform meal plans for all undergraduate residents.

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