Candidates square off before final election

  • The two pairs of candidates for MUSG president and executive vice president debated Monday night.
  • The two pairs are John Kristan and Shazia Ali and Henry Thomas and Stephanie Stopka.
  • Kristan and Ali emphasized connecting with students across campus, while Thomas and Stopka stressed the feasibility of their platform.
  • Issues discussed included transparency, student organizations, MUSG and campus dining.

Marquette Student Government candidates John Kristan and Shazia Ali emphasized a proactive approach to leading MUSG, while candidates Henry Thomas and Stephanie Stopka stressed the viability of their platform, in a debate held Monday night in the Alumni Memorial Union.

The two pairs will face off in Wednesday's MUSG general election, to be held at http://musg.mu.edu/vote. Students can cast their ballots online between 12:01 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The new president and executive vice president will begin their one-year terms April 1.

The emphasis of Thomas and Stopka's campaign was that the two had sufficiently researched their initiatives.

"We have concrete solutions and we don't promise faulty ideas," said Thomas, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences running for MUSG president.

Kristan and Ali stressed the need to look beyond issues, and instead at whether the people running would be able to implement the ideas.

"When voting, you're not electing a platform, you're not electing a set of ideas," said Kristan, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences running for MUSG president. "You're electing two people."

Student Organizations

Kristan said his and Ali's emphasis on support of student groups was one of the most significant differences between their campaign and that of Thomas and Stopka.

He proposed improving the Student Organization Allocations process to make it easier for organizations to obtain funding. He would examine the possibility of adding a third club sports funding period and eliminating itemized funding, which would allow groups to be more flexible with how they use SOA money.

Currently, groups can only receive funding designated for expressed purposes like tournament entry fees and hotel costs.

However, Thomas said adding a third club sports period could overcomplicate the SOA process and that itemization is necessary to ensure money is spent according to MUSG rules.

Thomas and Stopka said their platform was bolstered by an emphasis on the importance of communication with different campus groups, particularly with regard to SOA money.

Stopka, a junior in the College of Business Administration, said many organizations still don't fully understand how to obtain SOA funds and that she and Thomas would seek to improve communication in this regard.

Transparency

Kristan and Ali said they would maintain an "executives blog" with weekly updates about what is happening within student government.

They also said they would make an effort to engage students directly, as part of their effort to be proactive.

"We think it's kind of ridiculous that the only time MUSG people are meeting with students is around election time," Kristan said.

Ali, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said this outreach would increase communication with students by "showing we are willing to go to them."

Thomas and Stopka proposed setting up a section of the MUSG Web site for anonymous student comments and suggestions.

Both pairs of candidates agreed they would pursue a much closer working relationship with student media as part of their transparency initiatives, including lifting restrictions on senators communicating with reporters.

MUSG

Thomas and Stopka said they would work to increase the diversity of the Senate's makeup.

"We want to work to let students that are very qualified know about these positions," Stopka said.

She proposed turning to faculty to communicate MUSG openings to interested students.

Kristan reiterated that MUSG needs to make itself more visible on campus by being the ones to approach students, not the other way around.

"It's a matter of the actual (members of MUSG) going out," Kristan said. "We need to elevate the levels of debate on campus."

He noted that as of the time of the debate, none of the Senate seats for Wednesday's election were contested.

"That's a problem," he said.

Campus Dining

Kristan said the main focus of his campaign was not so much the quality of the food — although that is still important, he said – but the "value of your swipe."

He said some meal exchanges at Marquette Place, for example, are clearly not the equivalent of a "meal." He said he and Ali would work to improve exchange options.

Thomas said he and Stopka would evaluate food prices to make sure students were getting their money's worth.

He also said they would continue to work at securing more diverse food offerings across campus.