SG Candidates and platforms introduced through debate

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Student government president and vice president candidates attend the debate moderated by The Daily Texan Editorial Board in the SAC Auditorium Monday night. Candidates were given the opportunity to answer questions posed by Editor-in-chief Viviana Aldous and rebut comments made by the opposing candiates.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Candidates for the upcoming campus-wide general elections introduced themselves and their campaign platforms during a forum moderated by The Daily Texan Editorial Board.

The Office of the Dean of Students. During the first hour of the event, contenders for Student Government University-wide representative positions and the two candidates for Daily Texan editor-in-chief each had two minutes to pitch their platforms. The second hour consisted of a debate between executive alliance candidates.

Some campaign promises were nearly universal among the candidates vying for SG University-wide representative positions, including commitments to promote safety, improve the UT shuttle system and increase student involvement in SG. Manuel Ramirez is running on a single issue — the DREAM Act, a bill that would qualify undocumented students for citizenship.

Candidates for Daily Texan editor Susannah Jacob and Shabab Siddiqui each used a distinctive approach to pitch their candidacies.

Jacob briefly described her background in journalism and offered her vision for how the Daily Texan can have a greater influence on and off campus.

“The Daily Texan is strongest when people from outside of the University have felt that if they did not take The Daily Texan’s opinion into consideration, then they were going to have the wrath of UT students on the main mall,” Jacob said.

Siddiqui addressed the audience in verse. Reading a poem he claimed to have written just minutes before, he said “You may ask why I stand here and simply question, no closer to an answer, not even a suggestion. But the job of the Texan is not to serve solutions on a plate, but rather to host your discussion and debate.”

After Siddiqui spoke, four of the executive alliance pairs took the stage to answer questions concerning how they would influence tuition increases, budget cuts and their stance on the proposed smoking ban.

John Lawler and Terrence Maas, the first pair to address the crowd, said they differ from other candidates by running on specific reforms rather than repackaging vague campaign jargon.

“What we want to avoid as much as possible is just simply relying on the buzzwords,” Lawler said. “Things like ‘transparency,’ ‘safety’ and ‘affordability.’”

Each executive team also claimed to have specific plans and offered unique proposals for how they would carry out their positions.

Candidates Thor Lund and William Brown said UT should have a 24-hour library system. Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara said they would have regularly have breakfast with other campus leaders. Lawler and Maas said they would hold weekly “office hours” at the main mall and would raise revenue for the University by working with the University to start selling beer at football games.

The subject of state funding was discussed by the candidates and each team put forth strategies for interacting with Texas lawmakers in the case of election.

“We will be at the Capitol every day from January to May,” Gardner said. Guevara, his running mate, said, “I have lobbied to the secretary of state and got 6 million dollars pledged to my scholarship fund.”

Lawler reiterated the importance of a student presence at the legislature.

“We will have to, from the moment we get elected, start to lobby the Texas legislature,” Lawler said.

Lund said he would use the power of numbers and mobilize the student body to pressure lawmakers.

“It’s one thing for me to go talk to the legislature, but it’s another thing to get the whole student body behind this,” he said.

After the debate, Lund said he thinks the debate did not really change the campaign.

“It doesn’t change the campaign that much because all these people up here are talking about all these different things,” he said. “What we really need to do is get out and talk to students.”

Lawler said he thinks the debate did impact the race because it revealed more about the candidates.

“I think [the debate] showed who is and who isn’t knowledgeable of the issues, who is and who’s not passionate about fighting for the students, and who has proven results in their background,” he said.

Presidential candidate Yaman Desai and running mate Whitney Langston participated in the debate before rescinding their appeal of a disqualification ruling from the Election Supervisory Board and effectively removing themselves from the race.

Printed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 as: SG debate introduces candidates