MSA hopefuls square off

Upwards of 150 students attended the presidential candidates’ debate Thursday evening.

Raj Chaduvula

Thursday night’s Minnesota Student Association presidential debate brought in a crowd over tens times larger than the previous two All Campus Elections Committee debates.


MSA presidential hopefuls fielded questions in front of an audience of nearly 150 members at the Molecular and Cellular Biology Building, a far cry from the less than 10 attendees at the Council of Graduate Students’ event and the 13 audience members at Wednesday’s Professional Student Government debate.


Cameron Holl and Nidhi Khurana faced off against Abeer Syedah and Samantha Marlow as each side presented their platforms and goals for MSA and the student body in the upcoming academic year.


“We are committed into growing [MSA] into a representative, productive, inclusive, collaborative and very healthy body of student leaders,” Syedah, MSA’s current vice president, said during her opening statement.


Holl and Khurana presented themselves as bringing a new perspective to MSA. Holl, a two-term College of Liberal Arts student senator, cited his experience outside of MSA in greek life and as an orientation leader as an advantage.


Khurana highlighted her work under Gov. Mark Dayton and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.


“I think that kind of experience is going to be beneficial with Cam’s internal MSA experience and my external connections,” Khurana said during the debate.


Mental health was the biggest overlapping issue in  the candidates’ platforms. When asked what the three most important issues concerning students’ welfare were, both presidential candidates said mental was at the top of their list.


“This is the crisis on campus that needs to be fixed,” Syedah said.


Holl emphasized that sexual assault prevention and tuition are other pressing issues on campus, and are priorities that he and Khurana would address.


Aside from mental health, Syedah and Marlow drove home the importance of social and physical wellbeing for students, covering topics such as infrastructure and safety.


MSA’s presidential elections will be held from April 6 to 8.