MSA vice presidential candidates share their visions for the U at debate

by Bryce Haugen

WCORRECTION: Friday’s Daily incorrectly identified the person who asked a question about Robert’s Rules of Order. Former MSA Forum speaker Marty Andrade, a Daily colulmnist, asked the question

With less than a week left before the election begins, five vice presidential candidates for the Minnesota Student Association debated Thursday in St. Paul.

More than 40 students attended the event, moderated by Amelious Whyte, assistant to the vice provost of student affairs.

During the 90-minute event at the St. Paul Student Center, candidates questioned one another and fielded questions from Whyte and the audience. They also mapped out their vision for next year’s undergraduate student government.

“It’s time to get new minds in (MSA) and new ideas,” said Katy Tagudin, one of the candidates.

Vice presidential candidate Alex Newman said his main goal is to change the fees process so students could choose whether to give student groups money.

“We think the students should decide where their money goes,” he said.

Vice presidential candidate Colin Schwensohn said his campaign is focused on curbing tuition increases through legislative lobbying. Other priorities include creating a bus pass for all students, he said.

Much of the debate focused on getting more students interested and involved in MSA. Several of the candidates said their campaigns reach out to a wide variety of students.

But when MSA Forum speaker Kevin Wendt submitted a question about Robert’s Rules of Order – the accepted rules of meetings the Forum uses to keep order – vice presidential candidate Luis Garcia said insider questions such as that say a lot about the organization.

“It’s exactly that type of mentality that excludes people from MSA,” said Garcia, who said his campaign will focus on tuition, transportation and expanding student involvement.

Adam Engelman, a co-commissioner for the All-Campus Elections Commission, said he was pleased with the turnout. The commission brought the debate to St. Paul to increase voter awareness, he said.

“A lot of times, the St. Paul students are overlooked. So we tried to bring something to their neck of the woods,” Engelman said.

At the end of the debate, Whyte tried to lighten the tone by asking candidates to name their favorite superheroes.

Schwensohn said he prefers the Incredible Hulk.

“He was always calm and collected on the surface, but when he cared about something a lot, he busted through his shirt,” Schwensohn said.

Students will elect new MSA leaders Wednesday and Thursday through online balloting. The Minneapolis Television Network will replay the MSA vice presidential and presidential debates Sunday and Monday from 10 p.m. to midnight.