Hopefuls address questions at debate

Each presidential candidate had a chance to debate at Coffman Union.

by Ryan Dionne

All five Minnesota Student Association presidential candidates participated in a debate Tuesday at Coffman Union.

Emily Serafy Cox, Kristen Denzer, Rubens Feroz, Tom Meyer and Amy Jo Pierce were given time to address issues they said they feel are most important to University undergraduates.

After giving their opening statements, the candidates were each given time to answer two predetermined questions, take questions from the audience and address one another

“What, in your opinion, is the biggest problem facing undergraduates here at the ‘U,’ and what can you do, as MSA president, to deal with that problem?” asked moderator Denny Olsen, past adviser for MSA and current senior associate director of the Twin Cities Student Unions.

Answers varied from Feroz’s idea of rearranging the way MSA conducts itself so that it uses its full potential to Denzer’s desire to fund a late-night bus.

Last year, students were promised a late-night bus, and that didn’t happen, Denzer said.

“We’re different leaders, and we’ll have different results,” she said.

Pierce, the current MSA vice president, said finding money for a late-night bus is an ongoing project, but she and MSA President Tom Zearley have encountered a few problems.

Meyer started his two-minute speech with a quote about taking money from one person to help another and relating it to the University’s fees process.

“I really disagree with this principle,” Meyer said. “I think it’s incredibly unfair.”

The mandatory fees process needs to be transformed into a “neutral check-off system” in which every student can choose which group or program receives funding, he said.

Right now, Meyer said, all students pay for what few students use – and the same goes for a proposed late-night bus.

Serafy Cox said she agreed with Meyer that a late-night bus is unnecessary.

“There already is a late-night bus,” she said. “It’s called ‘the public transportation system.’ “

Serafy Cox’s main stance was to help curb increasing tuition, because that is the number one issue affecting students, she said.

Students need to start lobbying for lower tuition and become involved, she said.

Pierce said she has helped students have a voice in the University’s economic issues and future budget.

In spring 2006, student representatives will have some influence in the University’s budget, she said.

Once students begin to contribute and help make decisions, more students will be interested and want to help with economic issues, Pierce said.

Feroz said his platform is based on issues that can actually be accomplished. Currently, MSA is disconnected from the student body, he said, and that needs to change.

The possible absorption of General College into the College of Education and Human Development is an example of the disconnection, he said.

“This is not the right way to approach this,” Feroz said.

Another issue discussed at the debate regarded allowing alcohol in Coffman Union.

All candidates said the issue needed to be explored before any decisions were made.

There are more important issues that should be dealt with right now, Meyer said.

All-campus elections take place April 13 and 14.