In the final week of SGA candidate campaigning, a debate was held Tuesday night in the Encore Theater for the two opposing parties to discuss their stances and answer questions presented by the student body.
Moderated by Crystal Laabs, the debate revealed that both Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates share many of the same goals and outlooks on what needs to be done on campus next year but differ in approach and style.
For student voters their decision really boils down to preference of style.
For example, while both share the goal of increasing the voter turnout for the 2012 Presidential primaries, Seth Hoffmeister and Shantanu Pai take a more formal and traditional juggernaut approach and Juan-Diego Hernandez and Vince Hucek have a more social “word-of-mouth” blitzkrieg approach.
“The first thing that we have to pace us is the November elections,” Hoffmeister said. “We’ve talked about student apathy and the feeling of powerlessness that goes along with being a college student and we need to debunk that rumor and get students out to vote.”
“I had the privilege to see the voting effort my freshman year in the 2008 Presidential Elections, I loved everything that was going on there. The fact that we had people helping us to register and vote was so helpful, I would have been totally lost then,” Hucek said.
Similarly, Hernandez and Hucek take a fluid adaptable leadership method while Hoffmiester and Pai lean more towards a “lead by example” public servicemen style, but both sides hold strongly that accessibility and approachability are vital to successful leadership.
“We have a saying in (the United States Student Association), ‘step up step back,’ ” Hoffmiester said. “As a leader it’s important to step up but also recognizing that it’s our job to develop other leaders and recognize the potential of younger students so when we graduate they can take our place.”
“It’s important to be on top of the issues, on top of both the facts of the matter and the opinions of the students,” Hucek said. “Obviously you can’t be in touch with every one of the 9,000 students but do the best you can to be in close contact with as many of them as possible.”
“I tend to be reasonable, I tend to be articulate, and the last thing I think leadership should be is comprehensive, you want to make sure every voice is heard and heard in a way everyone can understand it,” Pai said.
“Leadership to me is pretty simple, you are the kind of face of the group you represent and if you fail you aren’t just failing yourself, you’re failing the entire group,” Hernandez said. “I mean, it happens but that’s part of being a leader, and the most important thing is doing what’s best for the group and what the group wants.”
Neither side is for tuition increases, of course, but both recognize that there will be some tough decisions to face as well, such as what to do about differential tuition.
“We pay a very low tuition by the standards of the rest of our state, I believe we are in the bottom 25 percent of four year universities. If we could stay there that would be awesome,” Hucek said. “Unfortunately, the reality is we will eventually have to raise tuition, the good news is it won’t throw us into the top half.”
“Given the political climate in Madison, it’s unlikely that this will be an issue that we’ll have to directly face if elected; however, we definitely need to make sure we are paying close attention to it when it comes up--there are tough decisions to be made but we have to make them,” Hoffmiester said.
Students are reminded that the polls open this Friday, March 30, at 8:00 a.m. and close April 5 at 4:00 p.m. Students will be receiving an email to cast their ballot online; the process will take on average five minutes.