Senator, students question candidates at final debate

Just as the time to solidify voting decisions starts this week, a Student Government (SG) senator used the fourth and final debate to surface “criticisms” surrounding presidential and vice presidential candidates.Christopher Biemer, a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, was one of up to 130 students, said supervisor of the SG Election Rules Commission Michael LeBlanc, who attended the last presidential debate on Friday night.Groups of students had the chance to ask each candidate questions for a limited period of time.”I’ve heard some common criticisms of each ticket,” said Biemer, a senior majoring in psychology. “I think it’s only appropriate of a senator to get some feedback on that criticism that’s been repeated.”Biemer asked presidential candidate Daniel Dunn to respond to allegations that his campaign is a “satire to SG” and their “abstract approach” alienates voters.”If you can’t laugh at this, you’ll just have to cry. I believe humor is the most visible form of truth,” said Dunn, a senior double majoringin cultural anthropology and women’s studies.Biemer questioned presidential candidate Andrew Cohen about claims that his platform contradicts his past actions in SG.Cohen, who is also the director of SG’s University and Community Affairs, apologized to those who believe him to be dishonest and said he doesn’t believe he did anything to cause this perception.”The things that (running mate Matthew Diaz) and I have done over the past few years have been for the students,” he said. “To say that we could have done more does truly hurt because we give of ourselves so much.”Presidential candidate Cesar Hernandez was asked if his plans to go to graduate school would interfere with his pending presidency.Hernandez, a senior majoringin biomedical sciences and the chief executive officer and founder of the Seraph Foundation, said he could fulfill both aspects.”I could graduate in the fall if I wanted to,” he said. “If I take the position of presidency, the only difficult class I have left is biochemistry, so I would basically have only three credit hours to worry about.”Biemer said presidential candidate Tim Moore is largelyunknown on campus and his running mate, Jonathon Davila, has been absent during the campaign.”If our biggest criticism is that we’re new and unknown, I want to say thanks. My name is Tim Moore … I’m here to really create a better ‘U,'” said Moore, a junior majoring in business management.Biemer said students have claimed that Christopher Leddy, who is in his second campaign for the presidency, is “only interested in being known and that (he) has a poor understanding of what is or isn’t impossible in SG.”Leddy, a senior majoringin political science and history, said several candidates are promising the impossible themselves.”I am incredibly passionate about putting SG back in the hands of the students … I am not in this for me,” he said. “I can’t emphasize this enough.”Tucker Matias, campaign manager for Dunn, asked the candidates to evaluate their competitors with the question, “If you weren’t running, if you were just one of these people in the audience, who would you vote for and why?”Leddy and Dunn said they would vote for any candidate that is not currently involved in SG.Hernandez said he would vote for Leddy or Moore. Cohen said either Moore or Hernandez because of their past leadership experiences.For Moore, his vote would go to Leddy or Dunn.”I think that some tickets delivered,” Matias said.Richard Castello, a freshman majoring in philosophy, said he didn’t intend to go to the debate but wandered in out of curiosity.Castello said during the course of the debate, candidates were not giving detailed answers.”I know fluff when I hear it,” he said. “If you’re going to say your point, say your point.”For the past two weeks, Student Alliance for a Politically Active Campus (SAPAC) initiated a weekly straw poll on how students would vote.Each time, Cohen and Diaz led the polls.SAPAC President Christopher Bonk said the results are not a clear indicator of which presidential ticket will win.”In order for anyone to win, they have to really rely on getting people to polls,” LeBlanc said. “It’s anyone’s game. Cohen may have won two straw polls, but he didn’t win by an astounding amount.”