SA hopefuls debate role of executive

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March 24, 2009

5:35 AM

_Click “here”:http://flathatnews.com/content/70347/sa-presidential-debate to view a slideshow of photos from the SA Presidential Debate._

Student Assembly presidential candidates Horacio Carreño ’10 and Sarah Rojas ’10 debated fundraising, experience and accessibility during the presidential debate Sunday. Coordinated by the Student Assembly Elections Committee, the debate was moderated by government professor Clay Clemens.

The candidates’ answers to Clemens’ questions revealed both the similarities and differences in their platforms. Both sides called for more student outreach, SA transparency, increased funding for student organizations, a safer, greener campus, better town-gown relations and greater protection of Greek life.

Horacio Carreño ’10 and running mate Michael Douglass ’11 cited club funding as their central issue, whereas Rojas and running mate Ryan Ruzic J.D. ’11 advocated for diversification of the College of William and Mary community through the building of a multicultural center on campus.

“We really think that [building] the intercultural center is extremely important,” Rojas said. “William and Mary is becoming a school that is putting a lot of focus on diversity, and we want to show prospective and current students that we care about it.”

Carreño expressed his concern over the $40,000 that was cut from club funding this year.

“The budget is getting smaller every year,” he said.

Clemens asked the candidates to consider the feasibility of the proposals given financial constraints, to which Rojas announced plans to work with alumni to bring in larger donations.

Referencing a conversation he had with College President Taylor Reveley, Douglass disagreed, saying he “doubts there will be any alumni money coming in.”

Rojas rebutted Douglass’ statement.

“This is not something we pulled out of thin air,” she said. “Ultimately both of our plans are things we’re going to do a lot of groundwork on. We have the institutional knowledge, however, of how to get things done.”

A theme throughout this election has been the relative advantage or disadvantage of the SA-outsider perspective and questions of SA-culture and experience.

Ruzic offers the SA experience, having served two terms as student body president at the University of Illinois, but some fear that the law student might be out of touch with College undergraduates.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Carreño, has never held a position within the SA, but has been immersed in a variety of other campus activities. He claims that his “position as an outsider” will allow him to “ duly represent all students.” During the debate, Carreño denounced the perceived “double standard” the SA has “for itself and everyone else,” and said that he hopes to make the SA more accessible to the average student.

Those who attended the debate were positive about its outcome.

“I thought that it was a good turnout,” senior class president Kevin Dua ’09, who also serves on the elections commission, said. “I also think all the candidates [were] respectful of each other, but in a competitive way.”

Carreño also praised the debate’s tone.

“It was a really positive debate,” he said. “I would have liked to talk about some more of our issues, though.”

Rojas agreed.

“I think there were a few moments of contention when we each kind of jumped on each other,” Rojas said.

“But overall it was extremely respectful and it was good to see that even though we want to go about things in different ways, we both have a genuine desire to help the student body next year.”

SA Secretary for Health and Safety Katie Dixon ’09 said the lack of discussion on the “the hot button questions” left her dissatisfied.

“Hopefully both candidates respond to the fact that a lot of the huge issues in their campaign weren’t addressed,” Dixon said.

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