The Great Debate for ’07-’08

Brad Hock

The Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a debate between the 2007-2008 presidential candidates in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) on Tuesday.

The four tickets for president and vice-president, respectively were juniors Eileen Kelly and Malik Wright, Rob Sobelman and Jenny Dorland, Hallie Dietsch and Marisa Bricca, and Dima Tkachev and Bryan Bloom.

All four tickets were represented, but Bricca and Bloom are both studying abroad this semester and could not attend. Elections Commissioner sophomore Anne Redpath began the evening with an introduction to the debate. Junior moderator Marty Pinnes then outlined the structure of the debate: first, a speaker from each ticket summarized his or her respective platform. Second, candidates were to answer questions already prepared by the elections commissioners, from each other and then from the audience.

Kelly was first to the microphone, proposing a system of SGA that will “let the ambitious students come to us.” She would create liaisons with the Greek houses and other groups for funding projects, reform the cruiser system and improve the study abroad program.

Sobelman spoke next.

“Who is the best for Colgate?” he said. “Who has the best vision for SGA? [And] who has the most extensive experiences outside SGA?”

Dietsch spoke third and proposed to transform the apathy of Colgate students toward SGA.

“Our school needs information to support our ideas,” Dietsch said, and separately presented the idea of changing the gym hours because of current overcrowding during select periods.

Lastly, Tkachev presented his Colgate vision.

“Nothing’s impossible because we are here for you,” he said. “We truly care about what this campus does.”

He noted his summer experiences, where he interacted with administrators daily.

The second round gave each ticket equal time to respond to a few questions from the elections commissioners. However, in the third, when candidates were invited to ask one another questions, Wright and Kelly, Dietsch and Tchakev only asked questions of Sobelman and Dorland, effectively giving “Rob & Jenny” the most air time.

When asked to expand on her plans, Kelly, the Communications Director of SGA, mentioned that she wants to “foster more friendship among students” by revising the study abroad program.

Kelly’s plans of revising the shuttle bus schedule were, in her opinion, feasible, a matter only of creating liaisons between campus groups, she said.

Wright mentioned their collective nine semesters serving SGA and how that will help them “get students to sympathize and empathize with SGA.”

Despite agreeing with Sobelman’s accusation that she was culpable for the low voter turnout at Senator At-Large elections, Kelly said that she would make the website work more smoothly once elected.

Sobelman, one of the co-authors of the new SGA constitution, asserted a desire for a metamorphosis of SGA into a more effective organization.

“[We want to] change the system so that it is not merely SGA complaining to the administration and faculty,” Sobelman said. “We’re looking for a paradigm shift that will bring about a big change, not a bunch of little changes.”

A few of his goals are to combat the apathy of students and allow free downloading access for Colgate students.

Dietsch also alluded to the apathy of students, blaming it on a “disconnect between students, faculty and administrators.”

She favored the new representation system for Senators At-Large, whereby 12 students represent an entire class year instead of allocating roles to representatives for each residence hall.

“If 12 people believe in student government, the people who want to serve will run,” Dietsch said.

Dietsch and Bricca have been tour guides since freshman year.

“We have a strong sense of campus climate,” she said.

Tchakev said that he intended to find additional funding from the school for various non-specific initiatives and also to establish integrity within SGA.

“We want the students to be heard on a daily basis, 24/7,” he said. “We will treat everyone fairly and get things done…More efficient decisions need to be made.”

Students can vote on the Portal until midnight tonight. Results from the election are expected Friday.