Who’s Fit to Fill the Presidency?

As temperatures outside reached the 50s and melted the snow, temperatures inside Waterman Memorial Lounge last Thursday night heated up for the Student Government Association Presidential Debate. Moderated by Renee Lariviere, the Secretary of Elections, the debate took place just five days before the elections.

The highly contested debate illustrated the strength and diversity of this year’s candidates, who include Adam Crawford, Scott McCarty, Nick Meltzer, Lydia Morin, Ross Nizlek, Kesha Ram, and Christina Wehry. This Tuesday and Wednesday the student body will vote for one of these seven candidates to replace Seth Bowden as SGA President.

Lariviere commented about the race, “I am excited about the range of candidates this year. The campaigns so far have been very competitive. Candidates have been canvassing across campus, walking door to door and using Facebook to get their message out” Lariviere commented.

The slate of questions Lariviere asked was contributed to from concerned students and several SGA Senators. Issues focused around the problems our campus has faced this past year.

One issue all the candidates agreed must be addressed next year is the administration’s current dry dorm alcohol policy, which, Nizlek said, was “extraordinarily rushed.” While all candidates believed that reform must be made, each one offered a different solution.

“It was an extreme solution to an extreme problem,” exclaimed Ram. Alcohol education is what the school’s administrators should be encouraging, emphasized Ram, Wehry and McCarty.

In response to the new policy, Crawford said, “Prohibition didn’t work when we tried it, you know, back in the day. As long as alcohol has alcohol in it, people will be drinking it.”

“It has been the introduction of this new policy that has urged more students to leave their dorms for downtown, increasing the number of problems with the late night bus,” Morin said.

Midway through the debate, Lariviere asked a question that received the most varied response of the night: “What are the biggest challenges and causes of concern for UVM students?”

Meltzer replied that there is a problem of equity. “Students are not getting what they deserve for the tuition they are paying.

The lack in funding for clubs and organizations has been a major issue,” he said. While McCarty acknowledged that tuition is a cause of concern for many students, he also included campus safety, student town relations, the exorbitant price of books and the limited number of hockey tickets as other areas where SGA must make changes.

“Students are dissatisfied with the performance of SGA,” Nizlek said. “They are upset with ResLife and late night transportation. Unfortunately, they cannot communicate their dissatisfaction because there is a divide between the student body and SGA,” he said.

This raised another question introduced by Lariviere, which hap-pens to also be a commonly known group on Facebook, “WHAT HAVE YOU ~SGA~ DONE FOR ME LATELY” and, she continued, “What can you, as president, do to change the image of SGA?”

As an outsider to SGA, Wehry believes she can appeal to the stu-dents. “You don’t have to have years of experience in SGA. It is more important to create new, positive relationships,” she said. Of the seven candidates, Wehry and Meltzer are the only two who have not held positions in SGA. When ssked whether this affects how he will vote, junior David Cahill responded, “I don’t think being in SGA is a necessary prerequisite. It just means they haven’t been caught up in the bureaucratic mess.”

McCarty used this question to introduce his “Open Door” policy. “If I am elected president, students will be able to come into my office and have a discussion about any issue at any time,” he explained.

Currently, SGA does not have a polling committee to research students’ likely choices. However, each candidate in the race has set up a Facebook campaign group with a detailed description of their platform.

With each “friend” tallied as a “vote,” the pre-election tally is as follows: Morin (365), Ram (248), McCarty (220), Wehry (110), Craw-ford (177), Meltzer (86) and Nizlek (76).

Each of the candidates’ plat-forms and their backgrounds have been posted on the SGA web site, http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmsga/, or you can visit their campaign groups on Facebook