In a debate Wednesday evening in the Gowen Room, two candidates and one representative running for 2003-2004 Students’ Association President discussed a wide variety of issues affecting the current and future status of student government at UR.
Students vying for the position include senior Steve Duszlak, and juniors Chris Calo, Noah Kuschel and Matt Strabone.
Two of the candidates will be running by proxy, as they are currently not on campus this semester. Strabone is presently studying abroad in England and Kuschel is serving under a Congressman in Washington, D.C, but will be represented during the campaign period by junior Andy Baukney.
Strabone, a political science major from Jackson Heights, NY served one year as a senator before serving on Cabinet for a year. No representative was present at the debate for Strabone.
Calo, a mechanical engineering major from Denver, Colo. has had significant experience in the student government, serving three terms on the President’s Cabinet. This has given him the grounding for his main platform of setting up a support structure for the SA to bolster communications between all factions of UR – a point highlighted in the beginning of the debate.
“Our main goals are communication and elaboration,” he said.
Calo believes a firm foundation for the SA must be formed before continuing issues of complaint can be dealt with. When the issue of parking was brought up in the debate, Calo alluded to these larger problems.
“I think there’s a deeper problem than [parking] issues right now. What needs to happen is to work on bringing students from various aspects on campus together’- then we can work on issues like parking.”
Steve Duszlak, a geology and history double major from Charlton, Mass., who has served as senator and Deputy Speaker of the Senate, focused his main goals on more student rights in general, and spoke on parking as well as only one of these topics which needs to be dealt with.
“Parking is one of the university’s biggest moneymakers,” he said.
“Changes have to be made and the way it has to be done is non-confrontational.”
Noah Kuschel, a junior political science major from San Diego, Calif., who has served on the Cabinet for 3 semesters, had his platform goals voiced by Andy Baukney, focusing on creating concrete changes to salient problems on campus. This includes the completion of Mallach’s previous plan of moving the Corner Store to Wilson Commons, a large part of Mallach’s platform which never came to fruition.
“Noah favors a plan to move the corner store to Wilson Commons 121 and 122, and this issue has been discussed with Dining [Services],” Baukney said.
Duzslak had other ideas for where the Corner Store should be located. “Wilson Commons can be turned into more of a student center,” he said.
“This can be done by getting rid of the Hive and moving the Corner Store to where the Hive is.”
Calo, a member of the Deans’ Advisory Committee, commented on future plans to renovate Wilson Commons.
“The Deans’ Advisory Committee is looking at renovations for Wilson Commons and possibly moving the Corner Store to Wilson Commons 121 and 122. I’d like to see the Corner Store in there.”
Questions were read by Speaker of the Senate Ashley Conner, beginning with Senate formulated questions and moving later on to audience questions.
The issue of Students’ Association Appropriations Committee funding was brought up in the debate, and candidates had differing viewpoints about the
distribution of funds.
“A better way to decide who gets what money is to see who is most active – what they do for the university community as a whole,” Duszlak said.
“The issue is accountability,” Baukney said. “SAAC is accountable. We need a responsible treasurer.”
Calo looks to creating an umbrella structure for student groups, to better foster the communication flow he seeks, and close the divide which now hinders any possible progress.
He believes base structuring will create a better situation to deal with secondary issues such as SAAC funding.
“I think we need to take a step back,” he said. “If we can make umbrella groups we can decide what to do about funding.”
Duszlak conceded that we are in a budget crunch and must carefully look at the numbers and how funds are spent.
A question was brought up about relations being rough between the student government and the administration and what would be done to smooth things over.
Calo came back to his original platform goals, citing open communication as the best way to resolve the problem.
“I think the problem is always communication,” he said. “The more we have, the better we’ll do.”
Duszlak turned to the creation of the Deans’ Advisory Committee as being at fault for many of the breakdowns in communication between administrators and student government.
“Dean Green has totally overstepped his bounds in creating the Deans’ Advisory Committee by going around student government,” he said.
“In order to justify our existence we have to gain [administrators’] respect once again.”
Baukney commented that Green no longer has respect for the student government, a fact which must be rectified.
The candidates and representative were also asked about D-Day, and Duszlak commented on this, as it was a point included on his platform.
“What we need to do is work with student groups to create more activities during D-Day – instead of drinking students will have something else to do.”
Calo showed support for D-Day as well as the administration.
“The fact is a lot of people are getting sent to the hospital. The university is just trying to cover their bases,” he said.
In regards to the recent referendum to get rid of SA constitution bylaws proposed by outgoing president Lonny Mallach, candidates showed a varying range of approval.
“I’d say I’m all for it,” Calo said. “As Lonny said, no one is following the bylaws anyway. We should scrap them and set up goals.”
“It’s interesting but peripheral,” Baukney said. “You can erase the bylaws but it doesn’t change the fact that no one’s truly involved.”
Duszlak showed opposition to the referendum. “It would take far too long to institute another set of bylaws,” he said.
“The Senate has a bylaw committee – I think the best way to fix the program is through committees.”
In regards to security, candidates felt various amounts of change needs to be interacted. Duszlak felt most strongly security needs to be improved.
“We should create a security roundtable that meets once a month. We need to open a dialogue between students and security – security would be able to work better for them.”
Calo expressed his wish to see more cameras on campus, but Baukney felt this was unnecessary and “ridiculous to assume cameras will necessarily stop crime.”
Budgeting and student spending was also discussed, and the use of power by the student government.
“We have to look at what powers the government has,” Baukney said. “The senate and the SA have the power of the purse. Currently, most of it is being wasted,” he said.
“The senate’s main power is funding – budgeting,” Duszlak said. “We need to start holding groups responsible for their budgets. The power that the executive branch has is as a voice of advocacy for the student body.”
Calo agreed with this sentiment, closing his arguments. “The increase in the SA fee was rejected because [the SA] is not working well. If we increase the power of advocacy we create a more representative voice,” he said.
“There are the same issues every year. We need standing committees, and we need to draw from all facets of student life. We need a better representation of students. The administration doesn’t know where to look for student opinion.”
Voting for the presidential elections begins next week, running from 10 a.m. April 21 through 10 p.m. April 23.
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