A Lollipop, A Lime Green Polo with the Collar Popped, and Some Freestyling

At two separate times this past week presidential and vice-presidential candidates met in the Billings lounge to answer questions, discuss their platforms, and declare supremacy over the opponents in the sparsely attended SGA Presidential Debate.

A handful of close friends turned out to support each candidate, seriously drawing into question the effectiveness of this tradition. Everyone present, with the exception of the camera man, was there to support a crony running for office, and furthermore most in attendance wouldn’t even know about the elections at all if not for virtue of their friend’s popularity. The main spectacle was not what the candidates said but how they presented themselves. Wildstein was seen sucking on a lollipop throughout the debate occasionally shaking it as he spoke. Poirier, in sorority girl fashion, sported a lime green polo shirt, popping the collar while exposing her midriff.

Cardan seemed to prefer freestyling his answers rather than engaging normal dialogue, often quoting A Tribe Called Quest lyrics. All this is not to be a criticism, it is only to say whether you like the candidates or not they are not lacking personality. Each candidate was asked several questions with the intention of illuminating their stances on certain issues. For example, when asked how he would work with President Fogel’s vision to improve our university, candidate Bent Cardan answered “I want to make sure Fogel’s vision encompasses the students; and I want to make sure that the student center is as cool as it looks in the plans.”

Bent also used the public appearance to push one of the mainstays of his candidacy, the creation of an on campus bar.

Candidate Sarah Poirier promptly dismissed the idea, citing insurance problems and other impediments which have previously curtailed an on-campus pub. Candidate Poirier used the debate to assure students that as president she would “keep down consumption costs and stifle the growth of the student fee’s which are tacked on to our annual tuition” and “maintain our schools tradition’s of green and gold and the ‘UVM’ name abbreviation.” Both Poirier and Ben Wildstein voiced concern over the plight of the current UVM student, forced to pay a tremendous bill for domiciles, student centers, and programs that we will never benefit from. Ben also expressed alarm over the persecution of off-campus students at the hands of xenophobic Vermont residents. These Vermonters are constantly putting pressure on local government and the University to tighten the reigns on the “unruly” student body, and catalyzed policies like noise violation fines and UVM police’s new off-campus jurisdiction. While most colleges have unarmed patrolmen to assist and protect students, UVM officers are forced to stalk through dorms like common RA’s looking to bust kids for even the pettiest of grievances, a job not even the crassest of people would enjoy. These two factors leave students feeling like unwanted prisoners in the very town they live. The last part of the debate, during which candidates were allowed to ask each other questions, proved to be the most entertaining. Provided with a chance to attack each-others shortcomings, candidates pulled out all the stops and went straight for the throat. Candidate Cardan posed this question to candidate Poirier: “Sarah, how do you plan on keeping SGA united when there seems to be this bickering between you and Ben, centering around this petty and…well…insignificant advertisement in the Cynic?”

To which Poirier replied “Actually me and Ben (Wildstein) have a pretty good-natured relationship when it comes to student government.” Bent, in turn, took a shot himself when opponent Ben Wildstein inquired “Bent, having attended no SGA events, how do you plan on accomplishing all those lofty goals, like getting a bar on campus?” To which Bent replied “I am a strong believer that if there’s a will, there’s a way, and I have the will.” While candidates spared no opportunity to undermine each other’s campaigns, the atmosphere was surprisingly light-hearted, and all managed to stay away from the personal bickering which is so prevalent in real-world politics. Each candidate attended to real and pertinent questions concerning our schools future and gave, for the most part, thought-out and intelligent responses. However the question remains for what purpose, when every opinion in the audience was set and each vote all but cast? When students outside the social sphere of the candidates were questioned about their political stances, responses were disheartening. Asked who he was voting for, junior Dan Puskar answered “What election? I didn’t even know there was one. I haven’t voted.” Don’t worry Dan, voting starts tomorrow. Donia Shirley declared “I don’t know. I don’t even know who is running.” Such replies pose a discouraging question: Does SGA matter to the average student, or is this institute just a safe-haven for people who take themselves far too seriously? Retraction: I would like to apologize to Sarah Poirier for the misspelling of her name in last week’s article. I would also like to apologize for printing false information about the president’s decision making clout, the position holds far less influence than I was originally led to believe.