Presidential candidates squared off on tuition, student fees, instant runoff voting and other topics at Wednesday night’s Minnesota Student Association presidential debate.
All seven candidates agreed tuition is an important issue for students.
Candidates with prior MSA experience said their connections to University administration will help them control tuition hikes.
“We have proven results,” Tom Zearley said. “We have knowledge and experience of how this University works.”
Mike May said his experience working to reform University Dining Services has showed him what it takes to get things done at the University.
“If you can work with the housing administration, I think you can work with just about anyone because they are difficult,” he said.
Both Zearley and Ashley Sierra said increasing the number of lobby days is essential to controlling tuition costs.
But Bob Gindorff said people are faulting state government when they should focus on the University.
“Funding has not gone down, it has gone up,” he said. “We need to blame administration, not legislators.”
Jason Will referred to his campaign platform for how he was going to stop tuition increases.
“Student participation is key; I think it is the gold key,” he said. “It will make a lot of these problems seem a lot easier.”
Fighting rising tuition begins with MSA representatives talking to students to determine what issues are most important to them and then taking the issues to the administration if necessary, Thomas Rupp said.
Brian Adamovich said he will work against tuition increases because they are a priority for students. He said what he lacks in experience he will make up with hard work.
“Jimmy Carter went from being a peanut farmer to being president of the United States,” he said in his closing statements.
Student Services Fees were also a hot topic for many candidates.
Gindorff said he would put a cap on student fees as MSA president.
Sierra said she would reform the fees process so all student groups eligible for fees could receive them.
Approximately 50 students attended the debate held at The Whole in Coffman Union. Most were grouped in various corners of the room, supporting a particular candidate.
First-year computer science student Katie Lazar was disappointed by the turnout.
“I think it really showed that students aren’t voting based on issues and only on who they know,” she said.
Besides the MSA presidential election, other student government positions will also be on the ballot, along with an instant runoff voting constitutional amendment. If the referendum passes, it will be take effect next year.
Proponents of the system, which enables voters to rank candidates in order of preference, said it allows for a true winner when no candidate receives more than half of the vote.