Sunday, Mar. 19, the three candidate teams for Student Assembly President and Vice President came together in the UC Chesapeake rooms for the annual elections debate. Junior Presidential candidate Sean Barker and sophomore VP candidate Constance Sisk, freshman Presidential candidate Cliff Dunn and fellow freshman running mate Matt Pinsker and incumbents junior President Ryan Scofield and junior Vice President Amanda Norris all spent a few hours Sunday night trying to show why they would be the best choice in the SA elections this Thursday.
Overall, the three sounded very similar when it came to policies. They were all for increasing diversity in the Student Assembly, reviewing the Alcohol Task Force and creating better relations with the City of Williamsburg. The methods, however, were what created the real distinction amongst the candidates.
Barker and Sisk criticized the way incumbents Scofield and Norris have worked with the College administration, characterizing them as shills for Sam Sadler. Barker said he and Sisk would not be afraid to stand up for students to the administrators, and that was what distinguished them from the other two candidate pairs.
When asked directly by Professor of Psychology Peter M. Vishton, the moderator for the debate, all three candidate pairs said that they were elected to represent the students and would do that regardless of what the administration said.
Dunn and Pinsker said it would be their duty to “fight for your right to party” if elected President and Vice President. Scofield and Norris brought up examples of times when they had disagreed with the administration, especially with regard to the Alcohol Task Force.
“Sam Sadler made a mistake,” said Norris about the Alcohol Task Force. Scofield and Norris promised to have a review of the policy next year. Barker and Sisk challenged them for not reviewing it this year, and Scofield and Norris said they had just begun to review the policy and would continue that if reelected.
With College-Community relations, the distinction emerged as to methods of interacting with the City of Williamsburg. Scofield and Norris argued that their experience this year in working with city officials made them the best choice for SA President and Vice President.
Dunn and Pinsker took a different tack, saying that they too had similar connections with city officials, albeit in a less professional manner. Dunn is a Williamsburg resident, and has known many of the city and some state officials his whole life, and mentioned that he had been duck hunting with some of them.
Barker and Sisk conceded that they did not have the same connections, but that they would take a different approach to the City and not back down as they asserted Scofield and Norris had. Barker and Sisk repeated their campaign message of “time for change” in describing how they would deal with the City.
The other issue of the night was diversity and how to increase it in the Student Assembly. Dunn and Pinsker said they favored increasing diversity, but not just ethnic and racial diversity. The pair brought up the need to have political and religious diversity as well.
Scofield and Norris discussed how they had worked with the Department of Diversity Affairs to bring the Mosaic festival back in the fall, and had worked with the President’s Council on the Diversity Statement the College is currently writing.
“Constance and I are diversity,” said Barker in response to the diversity question. The two cited their involvement in numerous campus organizations that promote diversity. Barker also challenged Scofield and Norris about the Mosaic festival, saying that he had played a large part in organizing it and pointed out that Lydia Bailey, the current Secretary of Diversity Initiatives who was responsible for the Mosaic festival, had run against Scofield and Norris last year.
Other issues addressed were safe locations for social events on campus, student voting rights and how the candidate pairs would work together. In some instances bits of humor crept in. Barker and Norris both referred to certain staff members of the Dean of Students’ Office as “crazy” when discussing the Alcohol Task Force, and Dunn referred to the diversity of his ticket in terms of his and Pinsker’s divergent social lives.