Contenders answer, pose questions on abilities to make good on promises
Gambrell Hall rang with several Student Government slogan promises to “amplify,” “restore” and “ignite” Carolina during the 2011 Executive Candidates Debate Wednesday night. All seven candidates for executive office were challenged to demonstrate their qualifications for office and outline their plans to follow through on their platforms, given this year’s dramatic state budget cuts.
“We’re looking for who has the most innovative policies that are still realistic,” current Student Body Vice President Taylor Cain said. “We’re just not able to spend a lot of money this year on initiatives. The budget decreases each year, and right now it’s the lowest that it’s been.”
Common issues addressed throughout the debate included student parking, allocation of the student activity fee and the Student Government budget, and alternative ways to carry out SG initiatives without increasing tuition and fee increases.
During the first round of the debate, vice presidential candidates Sens. John Cuenin and Katie Thompson each addressed their stances on parking issues, which they said have incited many complaints from students in the past several years. Both proposed negotiations to reduce ticket costs for students, although neither directly addressed the feasibility of eliminating parking tickets in the Greek Village during meal times, an issue featured on both Cuenin’s and presidential candidate Steve Vereen’s platforms.
Another debated Greek issue was presidential candidate Rohail Kazi’s proposition to commission an additional gameday shuttle running from the Greek Village to the stadium, for which a funding source is unclear.
During the second round, the candidates asked each other preapproved questions about each others’ platforms. Presidential candidate Joe Wright definitively stated that he would not follow opponent James Strickland’s lead in promising to distribute most of the $5,400 stipend among student organizations, stating that this move was unrealistic and that “officers work too hard for that salary.”
In the final round of questioning, Vereen, current secretary of Health and Wellness in Student Body President Ebbie Yazdani’s cabinet, said he had little to show on his initiative to improve bike racks except that they were most needed at freshman dorms. He also defended his “Believe in Steve” campaign endorsements from USC tailback Marcus Lattimore.
The debate closed as the candidates made final arguments for their leadership qualifications and platform feasibility.
“I know without a doubt that every student cares deeply about the university, but I don’t think everybody is ready to serve,” Cain said.