The race for student body president is heating up, with candidates taking shots at each other at last night’s debate.
Presidential candidates Joyce Kim and Gabe Delaney, both College juniors, faced off last night at the 2014 Undergraduate Assembly Presidential Debate in Steinberg-Dietrich Hall . The event was co-hosted by the Nominations and Elections Committee and The Daily Pennsylvanian and was moderated by College junior Fiona Glisson, the DP’s Campus News Editor.
Throughout the debate, Kim, a former UA secretary, mentioned results achieved by her work as a member of the UA. She said that Delaney, the current UA vice president, has not delivered on promises he made during last year’s campaign.
“My job is specifically to be the external [representative for] the UA. And that job I have done very well, I think,” Delaney said. “I have worked on the same projects this year with you, Joyce. ... I’ve been as active as you are.”
Delaney cited his work on a centralized Penn mobile app, which is currently in production, and said that he recommended the mental health task force to Penn President Amy Gutmann, although his original suggestion was based on her presidential commission on student alcohol consumption.
Mental health on campus was a continued theme of the debate. For his part, Delaney said that he would advocate for adding even more clinicians to the Counseling and Psychological Services staff. Following two student suicides early in the semester, CAPS announced that it is adding at least three permanent staffers, but Delaney said that he would like to see between 35 and 40 additional staffers and would like to see CAPS moved to a larger facility.
Plans to move CAPS are already in the works, but its new location has not yet been announced.
Kim countered that mental health initiatives should be “proactive, not reactive” and said she intends to ask those with the most expertise what they think is best for the campus community. She also suggested that “CAPS should be integrated within the College Houses so that freshman have that resource right there.”
UA efficacy was also called into question. During the question and answer session, UMOJA representative and Wharton junior Christina Hardison asked how the candidates planned to make themselves available to student groups so “the UA doesn’t feel like the airport shuttle club.”
Delaney suggested implementing a liaison system that would pair each UA representative with a student group so that students’ concerns are more directly presented to the UA. He also wants to give the UA a more horizontal structure and create more leadership positions within the organization in order to offer incentive to members to bring their projects to fruition.
Kim, on the other hand, emphasized having concrete foundations.
“Honestly, I think it comes from this: We campaign on promises that we can’t deliver,” Kim said. “That’s why I’m running on issues I’ve already worked on. I’ve proven results.” She mentioned her work both with administrators to save Multicultural Scholars Preview when it was nearly eliminated and her ongoing work on the creation of a separate “space” for international students.
Kim also criticized Delaney’s campaign focus on internal UA structure and culture. “There’s another name for that position — it’s UA Speaker,” she said.
“I don’t want to engage in the attack stuff,” Delaney responded. “I don’t want to focus on what I’ve done or what you’ve done, but on what we can do together.”
In her closing statement, Kim told the audience that they should have faith in her because of work she has already done. “At the end of the day, my work speaks for itself,” she said.
Delaney encouraged audience members to vote for the candidate they feel is most enthusiastic about representing the student body to administrators. “I live by a certain phrase. The phrase is ‘Purpose is power,’” he said. “At the end of the day, you don’t vote for plans. You vote for people.”
Voting will open on Monday, March 24.