Debate provides chance to make an impression before ballots open

Candidates were able to give campaign platforms and answer questions on Tuesday night before voting began.



A large crowd gathers at the Fireplace Pavilion to watch the Associated Students and Student Missionary Union election debates on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES

Anna Frost, Writer

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the time penalty for McGee/Daronatsy incurred because of their original posting violation in the SUB. We later learned it was because of a second incident. The Chimes regrets this error.

A large crowd gathers at the Fireplace Pavilion to watch the Associated Students and Student Missionary Union election debates on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES

The CrossFit clock’s red, glowing numbers faced the candidates’ podiums, counting the time provided to give opening statements and answer questions from moderators and audience members during Tuesday night’s debate. As each second ticked by, Associated Students and Student Missionary Union presidential hopefuls addressed the attending student body before voting began on Wednesday at midnight.

A phone number posted on either side of the Fireplace Pavillion allowed students to text in questions for the moderators to ask the AS and SMU candidates during the debate.

One AS candidate team broke rank and moved aside their podium in hopes of seeming more conversational and natural, next to the other two teams who arrived with notes in preparation for the question portion of the debate.

“Our platform is connecting with students and so we want to be accessible to the students. It also made us feel more comfortable. Our platform’s in our hearts and in our minds. We think it, we live, we breathe it. It’s not something on paper … we didn’t have any notes, it’s all in our heads,” explained AS presidential candidate and junior business administration major Evan McGee and his vice presidential candidate Laura Daronatsy, a sophomore journalism major.

Posting violations limit platform time allotment

McGee and Daronatsy only received two minutes to state their platform, instead of the standard three, as a penalty for a second poster placement violation. The team had two posters at some locations, a separate incident from the first violation incurred on Friday, Feb. 19, according to AS vice president of marketing and communications Richie Gowin.

McGee explained that he and Daronatsy plan to make the presidential seat more of a servant leader position by making the student body the most important part of AS. The team has already set up a website where students can give input, Daronatsy said.

Though McGee served as a senator for the 2012 – 2013 academic year, Daronatsy has no previous experience in AS. In response to questions about her qualifications, Daronatsy said her perspective as an outsider who has been involved on campus as an resident advisor and former Chimes editor can bring fresh ideas to the organization and prevent stagnancy.

The timer was also only set for two minutes during opening statements due to posting violations for presidential candidate senior accounting major Tyler Hormel and vice presidential candidate junior management major Ashley Panko. The campaign committee learned about an hour before the debate that Hormel and Panko's team had some materials illegally posted in Sigma Hall, Gowin said. 

Hormel and Panko focused on improving school spirit and community through promotion of athletics, increased student feedback regarding chapel and expanded dorm events, as well as better connectivity between the student body and campus administration.

“This past year we have seen a need for this unity … we want to see this attitude of pride really exude and in this way we are united in spirit,” Panko said.

Both also serve as current AS senators and hope to make the most of the pilot partnership between senators and members of the president’s administrative council if it continues next year by keeping students informed about major decisions.

Looking outside campus

Presidential candidate and senior biochemistry major Andrew Bustos and his vice presidential candidate junior social science major Brittany Woods were the only team to see the full three minutes on the clock in the opening statement portion.  Woods and Bustos, who currently serve as Block and Bluff senators, respectively, explained their plan to improve students' experience on and off campus.

Bustos regularly attends La Mirada city council meetings and plans to create relationships between AS and the city council members with the purpose of helping the city make decisions with students in mind.

“I definitely feel like there is a lack of communication and input between the students and the La Mirada community. I know from personal experience that the council does want to hear from us  … they want to hear the student voice so that way they can attend to the needs of the student body while not Biola’s campus,” Bustos said.

Visions for SMU

The two SMU presidential candidates followed AS with a debate in the same fashion, explaining their visions for the future of student missions.

Junior sociology major Rebecca Harlow, the only female running for a presidential position this year, wants to bring social justice to the student body by increasing awareness of how everyday decisions about food or clothing have global effects. Harlow explained how she successfully petitioned Bon Appetit to change from Seattle’s Best to Groundworks coffee, which is fair trade.

Harlow’s plans for student missions have a long-term focus. She hopes to create lasting partnerships with missionaries in select countries instead of going to several different places each semester to avoid causing damage to the community the short term mission trips visit.

Sophomore international business major Cody Storm talked about working within SMU’s existing structure and opening it up to students who often do not participate with SMU. Storm emphasized each person’s place in the great commission to proclaim the gospel, regardless of their career field.

By creating major-specific mission opportunities, Storm said he hopes SMU can be more inclusive of all students. The opportunity to bring students of diverse backgrounds together and give them a voice in SMU inspired Storm, an introvert, to step out of his comfort zone and campaign for the SMU president position, Storm said.

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