STUDENT GOVERNMENT GUSA Rep. Candidates Cancel Election Debates By Amanda McGrath Hoya Staff Writer

Scheduled debates that would have provided a forum for candidates in the running for positions as GUSA representatives have been canceled.

“They were canceled at the request of the candidates,” Election Commissioner Meg Kinnard (SFS ’02) said. “Some cited more time to do door-to-door campaigning; others said they felt attendance wouldn’t be worthwhile.”

Kinnard said that although debates have been canceled in the past, the move was unexpected this year. “It’s happened in the past with rising seniors but this year even the freshman said they didn’t want to debate,” she said.

Freshman candidate Joe Almeida (COL ’05) said he thought the cancelation was a good idea. “I feel the debates, given their location [in Walsh], the fact that they weren’t publicized very well and the fact that generally the only people to attend are those already supporting certain candidates, the decision to cancel the debates was the best one that could’ve been made,” he said. Almeida also said he would have supported the debates if they had been held in Sellinger Lounge, a location he said would draw more students.

There are currently 21 students running for GUSA representative positions: eight from the class of 2005, six from the class of 2004 and seven from the class of 2003. Four representatives will be elected from each class. Kinnard said that the campaigns thus far were satisfactory. “It’s going very well so far. Obviously [these] elections aren’t as contested as the presidential elections,” she said.

Kinnard said the debates would have been useful to both candidates and student voters. “[The debates] are a good opportunity for people who feel they are uninformed about a candidate’s stance on a topic to get a good feeling about that.” Kinnard said she is happy that the candidates who believed going door-to-door would be more beneficial to their campaigns voiced their opinion.

GUSA president Kaydee Bridges (SFS ’03) said she was disappointed that the debates had been canceled. “I think the debates are very necessary. They’re a good way to prepare the candidates for the role that they’ll play,” she said. “It’s also a great opportunity to see what candidates are the best, seeing them grilled on questions an how they act on their feet. You can’t tell if they are qualified through just putting up flyers.”

Bridges said that while she considers the debates a vital element of the campaign process, she doesn’t think their cancelation will heavily impact the election itself. “The effect will be pretty minimal,” Bridges said. “I think they have potential but unfortunately nobody really goes to watch them.”

Sophomore representative Anthony Marinello (COL ’04) said there were no debates last year either. “We had planned on having debates aired live on GUTV. Most reps came, but a few didn’t and no audience came. We ended up not having any interviews,” he said. Marinello said debates were held the year he ran for freshman representative.

GUSA elections have seen a rise in voter turnout this year. Voter turnout for the GUSA presidential election held in February, in which 45 percent of the student body participated, was nine percent higher than the previous year. “It’s important [that students vote] because there are a lot of people on this campus who don’t,” Kinnard said. “The elections are going well and I hope everyone will vote Monday.”

Voting in the most recent presidential election was not a flawless process, however. “We had problems during the presidential elections with ballots being sent out late and with e-mail addresses,” Kinnard said. She said GUSA is currently working with registrar’s office to correct the problem for the representatives election.

On Monday, three separate e-mails will be sent out, instead of one single e-mail through SAXA server, as has been done in the past. The e-mail provides an individual ID number for each voter and a link to the location of online voting. Students can vote for four candidates.

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