MSA candidates debate issues before elections

Amber Kispert

The Minnesota Student Association entered into the world of political debate Thursday.

MSA presidential candidates Mark Lewandowski and Mark Nagel met in Blegen Hall to argue their positions on the issues of their campaigns.

It was a relatively empty house and included mostly acquaintances of Nagel and Lewandowski, as well as All-Campus Election Committee staff.

“It’s really unfortunate that more people couldn’t be here,” Lewandowski said. “Getting people excited about the election is a must.”

Aerospace engineering junior, Melissa Hausmann voted in last year’s elections and said voting in the elections is an important thing, but it’s hard to get students interested.

“It’s important for people to vote,” she said. “But kids will do what they want to do.”

Not having voted last year, kinesiology sophomore Beth Huber attended the debate to learn more about the student government.

“I wanted to know what the debate and MSA are all about,” she said.

Lewandowski and Nagel took different approaches when delivering their opening statements. Where Nagel gave a metaphorical overview of his feelings about MSA and the University, Lewandowski opened with the issues of his and running mate Alicia Smith’s platform.

The debate consisted of two portions: preapproved All-Campus Election Committee questions and submitted audience questions.

The candidates’ visions for MSA led off the debate.

“MSA needs to have more of a purpose,” Lewandowski said. “Students don’t necessarily know what MSA does.”

Lewandowski also touched on the possibility of developing new programs for MSA, but didn’t specifically name any.

Nagel raised the question as to why Lewandowski wants to develop new programs when the Minnesota Programs and Activities Council already does a successful job at it.

“I’m wondering why you are trying to spend MSA’s money and time on things that are being done elsewhere,” he said.

Nagel’s vision for MSA is to take the opportunity to enact change.

“It is our responsibility to change the world the way we think best,” he said. “When I look to the future of MSA I see unlimited opportunities.”

Nagel and Lewandowski have different tactics as far as how they want to better serve the undergraduate student body.

Nagel vowed to meet with four student groups a month in order to keep them informed.

“Our undergraduate student body is as diverse as it is large,” he said. “It encourages relationships between groups and breaks down walls.”

Lewandowski said he and Smith are willing to be put into a corner and answer any question students have of them. The answers will be published in a biweekly newsletter.

Nagel raised the concern of whether Lewandowski and Smith will have the time to complete all of these promises throughout the debate.

“Yes, we’ll find time to do it because we really care,” Lewandowski said in response.

During the debate, Lewandowski questioned whether Nagel has the necessary experience and is prepared for the job of president.

“I don’t know if you are prepared if things don’t go your way,” he said.

Lewandowski and Nagel did agree on one thing, however; they both admire the past MSA administrations.

“I really appreciate the dedication of the current administration,” Nagel said. “They have flexibility when things go wrong. They turn a defeat into a victory.”

Lewandowski went one step further and said he wants to take the traits of past administrators and move further with them.

“I really liked that they got people excited about different ideas,” he said. “I think I can take from those traits and really use them.”

Elections for MSA president and vice president begin Monday at 8 a.m. and last until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“It’s up to you to vote,” Nagel said. “Our student body needs to stand up with me and help with the opportunity to decide our future.”