Q&A for candidates of senate president and vice president gives insight into future direction of the body

45 minutes of the April 2 Senate meeting were occupied with a Q&A run by Ben Pontz of The Gettysburgian for candidates running for Senate President and Vice President.

Candidates for vice president, Pat Custer ‘19 and Marisa Balanda ‘21, both cited Senate’s active involvement with the Hanson mold situation and President Frigon’s determination to make senate ‘an activist body’ as their motivations for running. Mr. Custer’s platform largely focuses on student outreach; when questioned about how he would address problems that exist on campus but may not get as much publicity as the mold situation, he stated: “for us to make a change we have to hear the student’s concerns.”

Ms. Balanda spoke at length about her idea for a First-time/First-year senator training program, which may not necessarily be mandatory, but “Why wouldn’t you [the future senators] want to?”. She cited her own experience as a First-Year Senator, having to learn acronyms and processes on the fly as the year went on. In response to the question of campus issues with little publicity, she suggested one-on-one talks with Senate Executive Board Members, which she found helpful in advocating for issues that she cared about to be discussed by senate.

Mr. Custer and Ms. Balanda, when questioned about their votes on the James O’Keefe issue the week before, both said that they felt uncomfortable with the lack of discussion on the issue. Mr. Custer abstained from the vote, and Ms. Balanda voted no; both said they would most likely vote no when the issue is next discussed.

Similar themes were heard in the Q&A session with Presidential Candidates Haley Gluhanich ‘19 and Anna Burns ‘19.

Ms. Gluhanich emphasized her opinion that the President’s function in the Senate was to keep things flowing smoothly and hear all opinions from all students, again maintaining the ‘activist body’ theme. This was reflected in positions such as a harder penalty for clubs not filling out the correct paperwork after they have used Senate funds, keeping in touch with the rest of her Exec board to make sure they are all keeping up with the work in their specific areas—and a statement that if it is necessary to stand up to the administration she will “tell them whatever you guys want me to say”.

Ms. Gluhanich also proposed post-event reflection forms on how the event actually played out versus the club’s expectations. These forms would be used to keep clubs actively thinking about their programming, and as reference for BCM budget recommendations if the same event is ever held in the future. Another proposition was a suggestion box, making it easier for students to voice their concerns. At the moment the only way Senate hears students concerns is during the Student Concerns portion of the meeting, at the end.

Ms. Burns emphasized her desire to hear from more diverse voices throughout Senate, from a wider range of majors and a wider range of clubs who do not necessarily come to Senate, such as Greek Life organizations. Ms. Burns also proposed cutting Senate meetings down to twice a month, one reserved for passing budgets and one for other discussions and business.

She mentioned her desire to listen to different points of view several times throughout the Q&A session, discussing the possibility of setting aside specific time for minority and cultural clubs to speak during Senate meetings. Ms. Burns also stated that when representing the entire student body at meetings with administrative bodies, she would try to be unbiased in her own opinions and honest if there was a student split.

On the issue of James O’Keefe, both candidates voted ‘Yes.’ Ms. Burns cited her belief that if people take issue with a speaker, they should bring it up with the speaker, not prevent a voice from being heard. Ms. Gluhanich said that even controversial speakers spark conversation, which is a good thing. Both also that they would use the Presidential Veto if they felt a danger was posed to the student body.

Both candidates also pushed the idea of president office hours, which would make them more accessible to the student body.

Voting closed Friday at midnight.

LASA, BSU and SMuT all received their entire requested budgets. President Frigon asked anyone with laundry machine concerns to stay after and talk to him, in order not to drag the meeting out.

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