The candidates running for positions in Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) for the next academic year participated in the fourth annual BSG debates on Monday evening in Jack Magee's Pub.
Students running for the positions of vice president of student organizations, vice president of facilities, BSG treasurer and BSG president all debated on the pub's stage in a question-and-answer format moderated by Seth Walder '11, editor in chief of the Bowdoin Orient, and Amanda Nguyen '11, current vice president of student organizations.
The debate was structured to allow each candidate a one-minute opening statement, a one-minute response time for each question asked and a final one-minute closing statement. Each student answered the same three questions as his or her opponent.
"This was definitely the best debate since we moved it to the pub [from Smith Auditorium]," said current BSG President John Connolly '11. "It was an active turnout...people were cheering, hollering."
Although the debates began 10 minutes late, students filtered in and out of the pub throughout the hour-long event.
Dani Chediak '13 and Michael Yang '14, who are running for vice president of student organizations, faced the first round of questioning from the moderators. Both were asked about their opinions on Charter I and Charter II organizations, the latter of which does not receive funding.
Compared to his opponent, Yang has no college experience concerning student organizations, though he said that his "reckless enthusiasm" would overcome his inexperience.
Chediak, on the other hand, referenced her past work with the A-Team, Burnett House and BSG. Chediak explained that she only jotted down a few bullet points to prepare for the debate.
"I felt pretty prepared already," she said. "When I was considering whether or not to run, I had decided what my platform would be, so I had already figured everything out" before the debate, she added.
The second debate featured Chase Taylor '12 and Sam Vitello '13, who are facing each other in the race for vice president of facilities. Vitello, who currently serves on the facilities committee, cited his work in the successful efforts to ban mass mailings this year.
Taylor proposed several ambitious projects that he would undertake if elected, including extending OneCard access to Brunswick restaurants, adding another SafeRide van to the current fleet and orchestrating a Netflix deal for students.
For his part, Vitello emphasized his hope to expand the gender-neutral housing option. After the debate, he felt good about his performance.
"I think it went well," said Vitello. "Chase and I both knew the issues."
"I really didn't know what they were going to ask, but they were pretty straightforward questions with reasonable answers," said Taylor.
Brian Kim '13 and Alex Takata '12, both running for BSG treasurer—a position that also entails serving as chair of the Student Activities Funding Committee (SAFC)—spoke in the third round of debates.
"The SAFC is a beast...a big monster that needs to be tackled," said Kim, based on his experiences as a current voting member on the SAFC. Kim also serves as treasurer for the Class of 2013, and said that his experiences will allow him to help student leaders.
Though Takata has no experience with the SAFC, he made three proposals: reforming the two-week rule, creating a paperless SAFC and increasing transparency.
During a brief interruption in the debates, unopposed candidates made statements to the audience.
Anirudh Sreekrishnan '12 is running for re-election to his current position of vice president of student government affairs. Although he is running without competition, Sreekrishnan proposed internal reviews of class councils and, like many of his fellow candidates, voiced his efforts to increase BSG participation within the student body.
Jordan Francke '13, the unopposed incumbent for vice president of academic affairs, thanked the audience for the large turnout and discussed his previous work on a plan to lengthen Thanksgiving Break.
The lone candidate for vice president of student affairs, Allen Wong '14 voiced his plan for a discussion series providing "an open and honest environment."
The evening concluded with the final debate beween BSG presidential hopefuls Derek Brooks '12 and Jack Hilzinger '12.
"The editorial control was left completely with the panelists...they had full control over the questions," said Connolly. During the presidential debate, Walder and Nguyen took full advantage of this liberty.
In their last question of the evening, the moderators asked Brooks and Hilzinger what the drawbacks of electing the other would be. However, Brooks and Hilzinger both refrained from saying anything that would cast the other in a negative light.
"Jack is a wonderful person," said Brooks. "I think he would make a great president."
"I feel the exact same way," Hilzinger responded. "This question is not in good taste."
Fellow BSG candidates admired the way their colleagues dealt with the question.
"I was surprised by the last question, but I think both of them handled it really well," said Taylor.
Video of the candidate debates is available on BSG's YouTube channel—www.youtube.com/bsgnetwork—and voting will open online at www.bowdoin.edu/vote beginning at 8 a.m. on Friday and continuing through 8 p.m. on Sunday. All students—first years through seniors, including those studying abroad—are eligible to vote.