Who will you vote for?

Kevin Gareau

USS hopefuls outline why yours should go to them at open forum

Candidates for executive director of USS Katie Hale and Preston Mitchum debate at the forum held at the Rathskeller last night. Elections will be held tomorrow.

Caitlin Prarat | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Tensions were often high at last night’s Undergraduate Student Senate forum in the Rathskeller.

All candidates were given the chance to state their platform and answer questions from both the Daily Kent Stater editorial board and the audience.

Katie Hale and Preston Mitchum, candidates for executive director, began the forum.

Hale defended accusations of inexperience, saying she has been active in several organizations, including USS.

“Being an administrative assistant for USS has given me everything I need to know about this organization,” Hale said.

Speaking quickly and deliberately, Mitchum countered that an executive director needs to have the experience of actually being a senator. Mitchum has been a senator for two years.

Another issue the candidates discussed was the referendum to expand the role of USS — which Hale supports and Mitchum personally opposes, although he voted in favor of allowing the student body to decide.

The debate between Hale and Mitchum was often filled with tension. During the audience question-and-answer session, Hale called the mention of a private conversation with Mitchum that was brought into question, “irrelevant and inappropriate.”

April Samuelson, candidate for student relations senator, defended her goal of making the campus more accessible for students with disabilities. She said she often sees the needs of such students go unaddressed. Elizabeth Eckels, her opponent, said while she admires Samuelson’s goal, she doesn’t think it is the student relations senator’s job to make campus more accessible.

Not all the debates were as heated, however.

While admittedly uncomfortable with public speaking, candidate for governmental affairs senator Annah Trunick got her points across. She said being a freshman could actually work to her advantage, as she would be around to see any changes made to her position implemented. Opponent John Wetmore said while he thinks Trunick has a future in USS, it is important to be able to follow the example of past senators.

Candidate for student advancement senator Theodore Trimm also showed grace when opponent Megan Lynn, who was not feeling well, began coughing mid-speech. Trimm left the stage to get her a glass of water.

Many of the candidates expressed similar platforms, such as Hale and Mitchum’s shared goal of expanding the hours of the Student Center.

Alicia Weaver and Kali Price, candidates for academic affairs senator, both discussed extending the hours of the library.

Price said she would like to start small, extending the hours during midterms. Weaver argued that overall library use by students is not enough, and she would like to see more programs hosted there.

Jonithon LaCross and Nikole Keslar, candidates for university affairs senator, agreed that University Orientation classes are important. Keslar said students need orientation information they can really use, while LaCross proposes seminars to inform freshman what USS is all about.

The two unopposed candidates, Andrew Ljubi, candidate for business and finance senator, and Jonathan Bey, candidate for community affairs senator, also had the chance to say why students should still vote for them.

Michael Hammond, candidate for research and development senator, spoke unopposed when his opponent, Bethany Taylor, did not attend the forum. Hammond wants to work with ACPB and the Center for Student Involvement to bring better concerts to campus.

Students said the forum was very important in helping them decide whom to vote for.

“I think it’s definitely a must,” said Doug Hite, sophomore English major. “Students should be able to see the candidates in a debate atmosphere.”

Lisa Caryer, junior integrated health sciences major, agreed.

“It allowed me to see all the candidates at once,” she said. “I got to see who’s serious and who’s just saying what we want to hear.”

Contact news correspondent Kevin Gareau at [email protected].