On March 23 2009, the student debate for Vice President of Finance (VPF) and Student Body President/Vice President occurred. Running for Vice President of Finance are Robert Piston and Nara Kasbergen. Topics discussed centered on club organization budgets, transparency of club debt, the role of the JFC (Joint Funding Committee) and the student activities fee. Concerning debt forgiveness for club organizations, both candidates felt that debt issues should remain confidential. It isn't other organizations' business to know another's fiscal dealings. Another topic of discussion was the approved 5% increase in the student activities budget for Fall 2009. Both candidates agree that the increase is good. As one candidate noted, while this will increase the JFC budget by $50,000, the amount doesn't greatly affect the overall budgets of school organizations. The main controversy was whether the 5% increase would be adequate. Kasbergen feels that the student activities fee should be further increased. In addition, the clubs should be focusing on responsibility and fiscal accountability. Piston is in favor of keeping with the 5% increase in fees. His main argument is that a further increase is unnecessary -there just needs to be a push for better allocation of fiscal resources.
Both candidates were asked what they had to contribute as VPF. Kasbergen, a two year JFC veteran, would move to make financial counseling to all organizations a reality. Piston, a member of both the JFC and finance committee, would hope to get a more personal image of the JFC. This would include informing students about the makeup and function of the JFC. When both candidates were asked what defines a group's budget, Kasbergen and Piston had similar answers. Kasbergen stated that the size of an organization is a main factor in its budget. While a sports club may require a $50,000 budget, a cultural club may only need $5,000. Piston commented that it's important to decide a group's budget case by case.
Concerning the candidates for Student Body President/Vice President, the choices are Rotimi (Timi) Abimbola / Adam Klein, Sarah Sheikh / Jonathan Hall, and Damian Valdes / Risa Masuda. When asked about their thoughts about student government, each party answered differently. Abimbola responded that the government should be properly represented. With their experience, she and her partner are well qualified. Sheikh and Hall commented that office hours are very important, and therefore they would stress making themselves available to the students. Valdes and Masuda mainly talked about making their mark on CMU. As every President / Vice President contributes something different, they talked about leaving footprints that would be remembered.
In addition, the candidates were asked about the issue of student pride. Abimbola / Klein
suggested that incentive be given to people to participate as spectators at Tartan sports. Sheikh / Hall commented that there needs to be unified school pride. While attending sporting events may instill school pride, they stressed the pride of being a CMU student. Events such as the Tartan Olympics were given as good events to create this type of pride. Valdes / Masuda's response was similar. They added that there really isn't unified campus pride now.
The most discussed issue was government transparency. Abimbola / Klein said that the student government has moved to be less transparent. In order to increase the transparency, they would make good effort to show that the government is working with the students. Sheikh / Hall recognize that a lot of change is needed. Taking advantage of CMU's smaller student population, they would implement on-site office hours to get student feedback. This would help to bring the government to the students. Valdes / Masuda stated that they would hold meetings with House Councils and organizations to increase government transparency.
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