USG candidates debate, take questions from students

Alissa Widman and Alissa Widman

With the March 29 election week approaching, Undergraduate Student Government candidates are making their positions known and encouraging students to vote.

Presidential candidates Kevin Basch and Clayton Stewart and vice presidential candidates Dan Caldwell and Brandon Double addressed their positions on important issues for the upcoming school year at a debate Tuesday in the Union Theater.

The concerns highlighted, in front of about 50 attendees, included USG marketing, student advising and class registration and voicing student opinions concerning housing.

Stewart and Basch differed in their positions on student advising and class registration, an issue that inevitably affects all students on campus.

Basch proposed a revamped registration process that would allow students to register for classes semesters in advance to give faculty a more accurate prediction of how many classes will be necessary.

“This will alleviate our problems with waitlisting, and not getting the classes you need,” Basch said.

Stewart criticized Basch’s stance, saying he believes it will overwhelm new students, and suggested getting to what he called the root of the problem — poor academic advising. He said students should be allowed to evaluate their advisers in the same way they evaluate professors.

“We want to emphasize that by allowing students to critique and review their advisers right after meeting with them, [students] will have the evidence to prove that an adviser needs more training,” he said. “This helps the students, and it improves the students’ ability to schedule classes.”

Junior Amanda Dotson said she personally related to the USG issue of student input on housing because of concerns she faced this past year. She said she was supposed to live in now-demolished Rodgers, and therefore the candidates’ discussion of building deconstruction and renovation impacted her.

“I think both of the candidates were really well-spoken tonight,” Dotson said. “I think [the debate] definitely brought some things to think about, and I hope that whatever happens is for the best.”

Another prominent concern addressed at the debate was how USG markets itself to University students. Both presidential candidates said they felt more needed to be done to help students become involved and interested in USG. They also said USG involvement with other on-campus organizations is a priority.

Stewart and Basch said change needs to be made, but were divided on how to achieve a positive result.

Basch emphasized the importance of utilizing The BG News and senators to communicate with students; Stewart disagreed, and said more direct forms of communication, such as “Stall-Talk” style newsletters, would be more effective to get messages out.

“It’s our job to help students stay informed so they can make educated decisions to help themselves,” Stewart said.

Lacy Allen, sophomore and USG Offenhauer senator, said she is still in the process of deciding who she will vote for in the upcoming election. The debate is one of many ways she will educate herself on the issues as she continues to “keep looking.”

“I know both candidates’ positions and I’m friends with both candidates, and I think they both represented themselves really well tonight,” Allen said. “It’s always good to hear their own ideas and their opinions on other people’s positions, too.”