Backed by black curtains and purple lights, the University Students’ Council presidential candidates took to the stage in the Mustang Lounge yesterday morning. For two hours, the candidates responded to questions from Gazette editors, curious students—and even each other—at this year’s annual media forum.
The forum differed in format from earlier debates, as candidates were able to give a rebuttal or ask a question about another candidate’s response. Candidates were then given a chance to respond to the questions and delve deeper into the issue, something Jon Silver found helpful.
“I think that the debate went well,” Silver said. “We were allowed to respond to each other’s questions, but it was very constructive commentary. You need to have engagement with the candidates to differentiate yourself.”
Many questions were pointed at specific candidates, and although it did open up platform points to criticism, it also gave the hopefuls a chance to clarify any misconceptions.
“I think [it] allowed the candidates to elaborate on certain aspects of their platform which have been either unclear to students or just overlooked,” said Claire McArthur, who addressed the misconceptions about her wanting to implement a fall reading week. She explained that she planned on look into a single additional day off, possibly tacked on to the Thanksgiving break.
When the time came to critique current USC executives, the candidates were divided. Silver and Adam Fearnall both expressed their approval for the job that Patrick Searle, vice-president of university affairs, had done advocating for students. McArthur and Logan Ross both felt Andrew Forgione, USC president, had excelled in increasing student engagement, and thus earned their nods.
Toward the end of the debate, students from the audience were given an opportunity to pose a question to the candidates. Queries ranged from topics of censorship in the Gazette to the candidates overemphasizing first-year students in their platforms.
“It was a great forum for people outside of the USC to be able to voice their opinions,” said Ross. “All students had a voice and everyone was equal.”
To cap off the event, the candidates were each given a chance to pose a question to their fellow presidential hopefuls. Of the four questions, Silver’s was the most notable. After a few general softballs, Fearnall was made to elaborate on his criticism of current president Forgione, and was asked about the steps he would take to be accountable for his vice-president’s actions and decisions.
Overall, the candidates seemed to come out of the debate feeling positive.
“I think it was a good chance for all of us to showcase the things that define us as candidates. I think the questions were fair, and it was good to hear some different ones from the crowd, so I was happy with how everything went,” concluded Fearnall.
—with files from Aaron Zaltzman