2013 AS and SMU Elections different than last year

The Associated Students and Student Missionary Union election debates took place on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.


Grant Walter

Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

Julia Henning and Anna Frost

Voting opened online Wednesday at 12 a.m. for the 2013 Associated Students and Student Missionary Union elections.

The AS and SMU candidate debates in preparation Tuesday night in Sutherland Auditorium were different from those in past years, according to senior Amy Howard, office manager.

This year, the debates for both organizations were combined into one event. One of the goals for the election was preventing oversaturation — the elections committee decided that holding separate AS and SMU events would be overwhelming for students, according to Howard.

On Tuesday night, approximately 100 students gather in Sutherland Auditorium to listen to the AS and SMU candidate debates. | Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

Updated debate format

The combined event was meant to draw more people to the event and increase the attendance, according to Howard. This year, 109 people were in attendance when the event started; by the time the SMU candidates were still debating, 77 remained. Last year, approximately 150 people attended the debate. As added incentive this year, AS held a raffle for Mock Rock tickets.

Last year, the AS presidential candidates and vice presidential candidates debated separately. All four candidates were on the stage together at the same time this year, with less time.

Each candidate was given three minutes to state their platform, and then were asked one general question and one platform-specific question. Each party had two minutes to respond and one minute to rebut, and one minute to give closing statements.

Students were not given the opportunity to ask questions. Though after the debate, there was time for a meet and greet with the candidates and senators.

The AS debate was moderated by seniors Matt Fier, AS religious lectures chair, and Richie Gowin, AS vice president of marketing and communications. Howard and SMU assistant controller, Robert Kelly, moderated the SMU debate. Questions were focused on the candidates’ platforms and were as neutral as possible, according to Howard.

AS candidates sketch different solutions to apathy

Junior Megan Beatty and sophomore Cody Nord look to each other to discern who will speak next while sophomore Becky Gallacher and junior Evan Tan await their response. | Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

The Associated Students presidential candidate teams focused on improving relations between AS and the student body. Both teams addresses the widespread student ignorance and apathy concerning AS, though the nature of their solutions differed.

Junior Evan Tan and sophomore Becky Gallacher stressed the importance of fostering relationships between dorm senators and students. Tan wants to help students on the fringe get connected with clubs, in addition to improving AS communication.

Gallacher said she planned to equip senators to provide information to students by meeting one-on-one with them throughout the year. She also noted the importance of senators performing rounds throughout their dorms in order to talk to students and gather ideas for AS. Gallacher pulled from her personal experience as an Alpha West senator this year in creating this plan of actions.

“After this year, I’ve seen the importance of rounds. At first I didn’t do them and then I realized, ‘Oh wow, I really need to be talking to my residents,’ and once I started going door-to-door, knocking, seeing faces, getting to know people, they really have so many ideas. So many people sent me emails about [getting involved]. It was just very important to have that,’ Gallacher said.

In contrast to Tan and Gallacher’s emphasis on senators, juniors Megan Beatty and Cody Nord introduced their plan to make AS more approachable in two ways. They plan to make the AS office an open place with office hours for students, Beatty said, but also to go out into the community. She stated that it is not the students’ job to come to the AS office, but the executive board would instead make the effort to attend dorm all-halls throughout the semester and set up meet and greet tables on campus.

Though Beatty and Nord have less experience in AS than Tan and Gallacher, both say they consider that to be a strong point in their campaign. Beatty, who works on the AS social board, explained her decision to choose Nord as her running mate, saying that he brings nothing but fresh, relevant perspective to the table.

“We don’t think AS needs more AS as it is. We want to bring in outside voices, we want to bring in outside perspectives on how the senators can interact with people,” Nord followed up.

SMU candidates span wide range of missions

Juniors Weston Hancock, Stefan Carlson, and Roddy Garcia listen intently as junior Lucy Harig responds to the moderator's question during the SMU portion of the night. | Grant Walter/THE CHIMES

The SMU candidates each discussed their unique agendas for the presidency. While each were missions-focused, they touched on various foci.

Junior Lucy Harig said she plans to create a way for students to come and explore how to use their passions in order to engage in community. She hopes to have a conference where students interested in missions work can interact with students who have already turned their unique passions into missions projects.

Junior Weston Hancock stressed the importance of using people from every vocation to proclaim the gospel. His plan included a focus on urban missions in cities such as Las Vegas and San Diego, as well as witnessing training to instruct students on how to use their skills for God’s kingdom.

Junior Stefan Carlson spoke about creating disciples, no matter who you are, and said he planned to speak with students to gain a better understanding of where they are coming from in order to engage the student body and get new ideas.

Junior Roddy Garcia emphasized building stronger connections with local churches in order to have a stronger missions program, especially when branching out to global missions. He also wants to partner with departments for integrated missions trips that would allow students to utilize their unique gifts.

Election polls close at 11:59 p.m. Thursday and results are expected shortly after.

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