Editor’s note: Jeremy Tagliaferre is the president of the IC Greens, a student organization that helps to inform the campus about the principles, platform and policies of the Green Party as well as providing opportunities for students to become politically active. On April 15, IC Greens hosted a debate between the competing parties in this year’s student government association elections.
A new precedent may have been set for future students during this year’s student government association elections for the next executive board. For the first time that anyone can remember, a debate was held for the competing parties.
The IC Greens came up with the idea for an open debate after SGA reopened elections and three more parties joined the race. The idea was to create an event that gave the parties the opportunity to let the student body know their goals and promises. There has always been a gap between SGA and the rest of the student body and IC Greens thought a debate could be a chance to narrow that gap.
the past, the elections are usually won by whichever party has been the
most involved in SGA. While the elected usually have a lot of
experience, they rarely come with new ideas. A debate is a great way to
distinguish one party from another and get parties to think critically
about new ways to engage students and initiate change. Then the
student body would vote based on policy differences rather than
differences in experience.
debate took place on April 15 at IC Square. It started with a
three-minute overview of each of the parties’ platforms from the
presidential candidates. There was then about an hour of debate
moderated by Newswatch 16 anchor/managing editor and senior
television-radio major Josh Craduck. Using a voice that was built for
broadcasting, Craduck fired off questions prepared by the IC Greens and
submitted by students via e-mail and tabling the day before.
like getting students more active in SGA and campus events, campus
safety, sustainability, a campus shuttle, a more open elections
process, and funding for clubs were discussed. After the hour of
moderated debate, the audience was able to ask any questions they might
have. This not only gave students the opportunity to engage in a
conversation with the candidates, but it also let the candidates know
which issues were important to the students.
was very worried that throwing this together at the last minute would
result in a poorly run event that would never be repeated. This was
simply not the case. All the parties were great to work with and we
set up something that benefited both the SGA and the student body. The
80 to 100 people who attended left IC Square with a better
understanding of each party and what they planned on doing for us. I,
for one, went to the debate planning to vote for one party and when I
went back to my apartment that night I voted for a different one. Some
people came in voting for one party and didn’t change their mind. But
now they know why they voted for who they did.
incoming SGA president, Cornell Woodson of the Reconstruction party,
made some good points during the debate that I am excited to see
implemented. He talked about “empowering” the student body. He wants
students to get involved so that they are invested in the projects SGA
works on. One way he plans on doing this is through open committees
that any student can sit on. The other parties had some good ideas too
that need to be brought up in SGA. Things concerning campus safety and
funding need to be revamped and changed around since current systems
don’t seem to be the best solution. The debate was not only a great
way to become an informed voter, it was also a great place to exchange
ideas and come up with new solutions.
in all, I believe the event was a success and I hope to see it again
next year. However, despite how well the debate went and the large
number of students in attendance, The Ithacan failed to cover the
event, even after IC Greens brought it to their attention. If the
campus media does not take an interest in campus affairs, students
won’t either. Most events on this campus are under-attended and
unpublicized. It’s easy to criticize SGA for not communicating to
students. It’s easy to criticize students for not listening. The
Ithacan has been criticized before. But these three groups need to try
working with each other just a little bit more. Hopefully students will
want this debate to happen again next year, and then maybe we will
start caring about the elections.
Jeremy Tagliaferre is a junior integrated marketing communications major. E-mail him at jtaglia1[at]ithaca.edu.