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With the final bang of a gavel, the debate portion of the Undergraduate Assembly elections came to a close.

Candidates for UA President and Vice President squared off Tuesday evening in the bottom floor conference room of 1920 Commons, answering questions from UA Steering and other members of the crowd.

“I think this was very substantive,” said Devin Grossman, Chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee. “It’s great to see how candidates approach issues in a setting that promotes a lot of dialogue."

The candidates for President — College juniors Aidan McConnell and Jane Meyer — focused on the student body's most-discussed issues, including minority representation, mental health and sexual assault. While the two agreed in principal on most issues, their methods of solving some issues differed.

McConnell talked at length about student working groups, his initiative to create small groups sponsored by but independent from the UA to work on a report and present it to the administration directly. He identified this as an effective way to bridge the gap between the UA and its constituents.

“We can democratize the process to make sure everybody’s voice is heard in the best possible way,” McConnell said.

Meyer addressed this issue through the idea of more effectively conveying to the student body what the UA does and how the UA impacts students. She also said a solution would be to send members of the UA to student groups to get ideas and feedback rather than placing the onus on the groups to come to the UA.

“As President of the UA, I want to strengthen those communities, and I want to make sure your voice is heard,” Meyer said.

The Vice Presidential Debate focused more on the relationship between the UA and the UA Steering Committee, which consists of representatives from many clubs on campus. The UA Vice President chairs this committee, and the candidates— Daniel Kahana, Meyer’s running mate Ray Clark and McConnell’s running mate Bill Ding — each discussed their experiences working with various student groups.

The event itself was attended by over 50 students, many of them members of UA Steering. Those in attendance did have to battle the background noise wafting from nearby Starbucks, forcing the moderators to encourage people to speak up on multiple occasions.

“We recognize that [the crowd in attendance] doesn’t represent everyone,” Grossman said. “That’s something that we work toward every year… and that’s something that we’re going to work for in the future.”

Voting opens tonight at midnight. For more on the candidates, check out The Daily Pennsylvanians Candidate Center at

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