Sunday afternoon, The Daily Pennsylvanian hosted the final presidential and vice presidential debate of the Undergraduate Assembly debate season.
The two presidential candidates — Tyler Ernst and Cornelius Range — and the three vice presidential candidates — Dan Bernick, Faye Cheng, and Adam Hamilton — discussed issues surrounding the past year’s student government.
Both Ernst, a Wharton and Engineering junior, and Range, a College junior, cited the lack of communication between the UA and the student body as a failure of this past year’s UA administration.
Although Ernst cited the success of this past year’s “tangible projects” such as the creation of The Late Night — a study space in the basement of 1920 Commons — in mid-November and funding PennApps Labs — a student-run organization that hires undergraduate programmers to develop student-run technologies, he mentioned that PennApps Labs initiatives were not properly publicized to the student body.
However, Range felt that there was a general disconnect between the UA and the student body and said that “student government can be better … the UA can be a mechanism where we united the student body at large.”
All candidates also voiced their opinions about the effectiveness of the new directly elected presidential and vice presidential system that was instituted last year, replacing an internally elected UA Chairman and Vice Chairman for external affairs.
Ernst explained that with this system, “democracy holds [those in UA directly elected positions] accountable” to the student body.
Range argued that this is “the beginning of what it means to be student body president” although he added that in the future, “power can be levied in more appropriate ways.”
Additionally, the issue of the Student Activities Council’s temporary moratorium preventing new student groups from receiving recognition and funding for this semester was debated.
Range, a member of several small student groups on campus such as The Vision, a black-interest publication, and the Memory Team, said “we’re all seeking to continue to pull from the funds that SAC affords.”
However, it is necessary for student groups to be responsible for their spending, he added.
Ernst was more concerned with the UA’s relationship with SAC, explaining that as two separate branches of student government, the UA must “empower [SAC] and make sure they are functioning at a high power.”
At Friday afternoon’s “Community and Honor” debate hosted by Honor Council and the Civic House Associates Coalition, the two presidential candidates addressed why the student body should vote for them.
Ernst mentioned several times that his two-year UA experience “is a valid reason why I … deserve your trust.”
Although Range has less experience, with just over one year on the UA since he resigned in the fall of his sophomore year, he explained that his vision for student government is what drives his campaign.
“Not everyone student wants to be involved in student government, but everyone should be given the chance,” adding that “every student has a voice.”
College senior and Chairwoman of the 2011 Commission on Presidential Debates Ali Huberlie was happy with the increased amount of people at each debate and “was really impressed with all the effort the candidates put in.”Comments powered by Disqus
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