Baruch College’s “USG Debate” questioned Project Now candidates running for the 2018-2019 term on April 19. The questions came from The Ticker‘s staff, students who anonymously submitted questions via a Google Form and students who attended the debate.
Hosted by The Ticker and moderated by News Editor Victoria Merlino, the debate featured Radhika Kalani, the only presidential candidate, Emma Jorgensen who is running for executive vice president and eight other representative senators at the table.
When asked about why there are no other parties running, Kalani stated, “We reached out to a lot of organizations, a lot of clubs and that’s the reason why I think we don’t have competition this year. That’s because we have a team from different areas.”
Kalani and Jorgensen both emphasized that the composition of the team is essential to the campaign and that community building is necessary to keep the table united.
With seven resignations from the USG senate table this year, Kalani said her team made sure that the people they have on the table are reliable and responsible. They plan on bonding by implementing retreats and socials over the summer to make sure they work well together as a group.
“I am a strong believer in — if the team isn’t working well together, then we should all just step out and bond,” Kalani said.
The same question of how USG plans on limiting resignations was then posed to senators, to which Ray Colon, running for chair of Appeals, said that if Goldman Sachs offered him a paid internship, “I’m not just gonna not resign.”
Colon’s response sparked discussion among the audience, leading a student to anonymously direct a question to Colon asking how seriously he will regard his position in USG.
“People see me and I guess they say I don’t take things seriously just by the way I act,” Colon said. “It’s not that I’m not taking things seriously, it’s just that I have a different stance than most people.”
Colon had expressed that he is against bringing back Greek life on campus. Aaron D’Souza, running for vice president of Student Services, was quick to respond, saying, “As you guys can see just now, he was extremely passionate about social frat issues, so I don’t think Ray taking anything seriously should be a question in anyone’s mind.”
Justin Broomfield, running for Chair of Finance, also backed up Colon by saying, “I take some offense to the question because everyone has their own style of doing something and they would not have been picked for this position if they didn’t have the passion and the work ethic for it.”
The support Colon received from the table exemplified their efforts to remain a team.
Some questions were targeted toward other specific candidates. When asked why Julienne Guzman, a candidate for representative senator sitting in the front of the audience, was not speaking at the event, Jorgensen answered on her behalf saying, “She felt uncomfortable and a little intimidated today, so she was nervous about it.” Jorgensen added they will work on her public speaking by the time senate meetings come around.
Daniel Morote, the current vice president of Legislative Affairs originally running for re-election, was also present at the debate but did not speak as he switched out of his position five hours before the debate, giving current Representative Sen. Mark Vilk the seat on the team. Morote stated that the reason for the switch was that his classes next semester would interfere with senate meetings.
In response to why other table members were not present at the debate — which was Project Now’s first official appearance as a team — the candidates explained they are still students and that classes come first.
“We’re gonna prioritize you first, but that’s after we get into office,” Nicole Pung, who is running for chair of Marketing, said.
Other questions prompted the candidates of Project Now to discuss why they were best fit for the position and their goals for USG. The candidates responded with their various leadership positions and the experience they can bring to the table along with positive energy and openness.
Kalani expressed that some of her specific and personal goals include creating a handbook for USG to know what each position is and what events are happening, working on the website to make it more accessible and having a quiz that students can take, which would tell them what club or organization is a good fit for them. In addition, she plans to have more philanthropic events and to be more active with the University Student Senate and other CUNY USGs.
The debate concluded with the candidates addressing the independent campaign members. Jorgensen asserted that, “Just because they weren’t running with Project Now from the beginning doesn’t mean if they get elected to their roles, there’ll be some weird divide.” She added that she was “gonna make sure that doesn’t happen.”
A recording of the debate is available on The Ticker’s Facebook Page.
Students will be able to vote for USG candidates on April 24, 25 and 26.
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