Courtesy of Lauren Sullivan

Picking a president

Student government candidates prepare for elections, showcase their platforms at debate

BY LAUREN SULLIVAN

 

The candidates for president and vice president of student government showcased their platforms and rallied to win votes from the student body at the Spring Election Debate in the Johnson Center March 30.

The Q&A-style debate gave each of the candidates, who are looking to be elected for the 2017-2018 school year, two minutes to answer each question followed by five minutes of open debate among all the candidates. Many topics were covered, including academics, university services and school spirit. A major theme the candidates discussed was open communication between student government and the student body.

Currently in the running are government and international politics major David Kanos, a junior from Nigeria, and junior integrative studies major Kelley Dugan, who are running for president and vice president, respectively.

“We epitomize unity. We come from different backgrounds and organizations but come together to listen to students’ concerns on the ground,” Dugan said.

Their campaign slogan is “Transform Mason,” and their goal to hold student government accountable, according to Kanos.

Kanos/Dugan’s platform revolves around advocating for overlooked students, such as international students, students with double majors and transfer students. They also said they want easier access to scholarships and increased inclusion for diverse students.

Of their goals, Kanos said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I came from a third world country and I am a fighter.”

Kanos added that one of their ideas for holding student government accountable is to hold an open house at the beginning of the school year for students to be informed of student government’s initiatives for that year and to give feedback, such as suggestions to fix the issues discussed at the debate.  At the end of the school year, there would be another open house to inform students on the status and implementation of those initiatives.

“This will create transparency between student government and the students,” Kanos said.

Another issue the Kanos/Dugan campaign addressed was the stipend that the president and vice president receive. They want to make sure that money can somehow go back to the students, specifically through scholarships.

As for their opposition, junior government and international politics major Hannah Carse is running for president with running mate and junior government and international politics major Greg Warren for vice president. Carse said that together the two have a combined six years of experience in student government.

“Our campaign is designed to execute what the students want,” Warren said. “We promise to address all concerns, and if they can’t be fixed, at least we can try to find out why and communicate that to students.”

The Carse/Warren campaign touched on slightly different topics from their opposition. A major platform for them was implementing a traffic light near the St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel on Roberts Road. They said this traffic light would be useful for the Catholic Campus Ministry when students going to late-night mass walk in what Carse called a dangerous intersection.

They also mentioned at the debate that they want to offer free LSAT tutoring for pre-law students who plan to take the test within a year of the free tutoring.

“This will help in finding relief for students hoping to take the next steps in their careers,” Warren, a pre-law student, said.

Along with these initiatives, they said they want to have more tailgating and free printing for students, both of which are very attainable goals, they added.

As for the comparison to Kanos/Dugan’s campaign, Warren said, “Both tickets have similar angles, but different approaches.”

For example, both campaigns want to implement a suggestion forum for more open communication with students. Carse/Warren want to create an online suggestion box, while Kanos-Dugan want to put physical suggestion boxes in the Johnson Center and the Student Government Office.

Despite the differences in their policies, both parties agreed on extending Fenwick’s hours.  All of the candidates expressed this as a major concern among students because 90 percent of the library closes at midnight, they said.

Due to time constraints, the audience Q&A did not happen.  However, each presidential candidate was allowed three minutes of closing statements.

“We need to focus on how to move Mason forward.  No matter one’s political views or religious views, we are all students. We want an environment for all to feel loved, secure and safe,” Kanos said.

“We have the abilities to create the positive changes that the students want,” Carse said.   

Election results will be announced on April 10 at 12 p.m. in the JC Atrium.

Update: David Kanos and Kelley Dugan won the election.