Hello there, Wes-folks. This is your main man frostedmoose, bloggin’ the WSA Presidential Debates live from Usdan University Centre. Now, I don’t particularly care about any of this shit (I’m going to write-in my vote for Kanye West, in the hopes that if he indeed does win he will come all the way here to Middletown, CT to person the office himself like a mon-stah), nor do I care for any of you meat-bags we here at Wesleying call readers. But I don’t have much work for the week, and my workaholism necessitates me to busy myself with something. So here it is.
UPDATE: This is your other main man, A-Batte. Because there aren’t enough good things on this campus I’ve had a chance to ruin, I’ll also be liveblogging in this post. Collaborative editing is going to be…difficult. Huzzah!
This post will update itself periodically after the jump. Yuhhhhhhhhhhh.
Disclaimer: We here at the Usdan table (frostedmoose and A-Batte) are heavy-worked under the pressure of the candidate’s rapid-fire and largely muffled speech, as well as our inability to translate sound from ears to movement of fingers. Also, because we’re so damn lazy, we’ll keeping edits at a minimum. But if the candidates who are reading feel that they are overly misrepresented (and we don’t think you are at all), shoot an email over to staff(at)wesleying(dot)org. We’ll review your appeals, and make the appropriate changes after a staff review.
The Candidates, from left to right, audience perspective:
- Joe O’Donnell ’13
- Melody Oliphant ’13 (veep: Grace Zimmerman ’13)
- Zach Malter ’13 (veep: Meherazade Sumariwalla ’12)
6:34 pm: [frostedmoose] Debate hasn’t started yet. I appear to be staring at the back of Micah Feiring ’11‘s curly head.
6:39PM: [frostedmoose] The front of Micah Feiring’s head speaks! Coerces the candidates to introduce themselves. Can’t hear Malter tho.
6:42PM: [A-Batte] Joe O’Donnell’s opening statement. He says “thank you.” No one says “you’re welcome.”
6:43PM: [frostedmoose] Oliphant goes for the big word: “Transparency.” Her running mate, Grace Zimmerman, walks imposingly around the room displaying her shirt “Vote or Die.” I don’t know about you, A-Batte, but she intimidates the shit out of me.
6:44PM: [A-Batte] Zach Malter is now speaking, after Melody “Not That Intimidating” Oliphant finishes her opening statement. He loves fighting for students! I also love fighting, so he seems solid. On to the questions…
Questions and responses
6:46PM: [frostedmoose] Micah Feiring begins by masturbatorily listing down the numerous reforms his WSA has done. Actual Question: What specific thing has Feiring has set up in the past couple of seasons will they change or do differently?
- Joe: Calls the Matisyahu show the “biggest fuckup” by the WSA this year and a “shitshow of a concert”. Proposes more transparency for concert.
- Melody: Also proposes increased transparency to avoid the Matisyahu fiasco. Did something happen last Tuesday?
- Zach: Diverts from the first two by addressing the lack of action by the WSA surrounding the Affirmative Action bake sale. He’ll do a lot of things (regularly!) to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
- Joe’s rebuttal: Got cut short. First time call of the night
- Zach’s rebuttal: Mentions Joe missing two meetings about the aforementioned concert. Zing!
- Melody’s rebuttal: Transcends the Joe/Zach binary to speak to the shared concerns of the candidates and student body: transparency and accessibility. Heard of those before?
7:03PM: [frostedmoose] Question:
If members of the administration proposed a decision that you disagreed to, how would you bring that up to the administration? That is, how would you react?
- Zach: References his work on the Housing Policy. He organized students and protested the policy together. (See Beta-Gate?) “The key there was organizing students. Rally them around issues.” Also notes that the goal is to include students beyond the WSA, roping kids who aren’t typically part of the issue.
- Melody: Oliphant presses on breaking down stereotypes the administration has on students, promoting for a Habermasian-style coming together and discoursive action. It appears that she’s establishing a theme here: Taking students as full individuals and respectable adults, so on and so forth…
- O’Donnell: Micah nearly forgets O’Donnell (A-Batte: Micah screws up everything! Did he just get Melody’s name wrong twice in a row?) O’ Donnell begins by reciting many infarctions the administration has been responsible for in the past two years or so (Franzia shout out!) He, like Zach, advocates for action, pressing for more rally action so on and so forth. Once again, presses for inter-group communication – “actually reaching out to students.”
- Zach’s rebuttal [A-B]: Housing policy WSA meeting was something of a success, since Roth made a somewhat apologetic blog post after the meeting. Joe wasn’t there. :(
- Joe’s rebuttal [A-B]: “People like [Zach] and Andrew Trexler [are] taking [the people who did the hard work’s] credit from them.” Roth had already agreed to change the policy before Zach’s campaign.
[Editor’s note: HOLY SHIT IT’S SO HARD TO HEAR AND THE INTERNET CONNECTION SUXXXX]
7:06 PM: Guest asker: Lowell Wood. [No mic up in this shit.] What issue or policy will be your number one priority as president next year?
- Melody: [frostedmoose] “Sustainability is important to me. It’s a larger issue – Wesleyan’s image is reflected in our actual reality of things.” Oliphant highlights a project she’s working on over the summer – the building of a greenhouse with Bon Appetit to produce foodstuff to supply Usdan with. She makes a note of spreading the issues across a wide range, including internet connections, financial aid, etc. In addition to that, Oliphant appears to be transcending the whole ad hominem dimension of the debate by putting forward a multilateral approach to campus politics.
- O’Donnell [fm]: “The biggest issue as I see it is the WSA’s poor communication.” Joe raps on the WSA’s poor performance as a tool over the semesters. Calls Wesleyan students charismatic, strokes our egos. I think there was a point to that, but I can’t quite hear his muffled voice. Really pushes for opening the lines of communication with the student body. Advocates that the WSA should embrace all voices.
- Zach [A-B]: “Could not agree more with Joe about the importance of communication with students”. Also cares deeply about Financial Aid / access to education. Negotiated with the administration over a proposed increase in the Student Contribution (a portion of financial aid). Comofortable with saying finaid is his number one priority.
- Joe [A-B]: Hasn’t been working on Zach’s financial aid committee because he’s the chair of a different committee. By way of metaphor, fighting for financial aid is not that important because we all do.
- Melody [A-B]: It’s about relating to people on campus. We’re all gonna work hard! Yay!
- Zach [A-B]: Stands behind what he said. People are still struggling even though everyone is “in support” of financial aid.
[Editor’s note: can’t wait to read what I’ve been writing and be confused/regretful/amused.]
7:21 PM: Question: What question would you like to be asked in the debate, and please answer it?
- O’ Donnell: “Why haven’t you guys been bashed over the head with typical WSA election propaganda from me?” O’ Donnell presses that students don’t like being bombarded with campaign propaganda before an election (frostedmoose: or ever, really). He also makes note that WSA communication usually shuts down after the elections are over. He hopes that he can have more conversations with people even after the elections. Stresses quality communication, not quantity.
- Melody: “What from my past experiences in Wesleyan prepares me to be president?” Oliphant believes that the projects she has been involved in and the things she has worked with is a collaborative effort, not an individual effort. She vouches for actually working with students, and not stroking her own monkey and engage in self-glorifying practices. Oliphant also pushes for more communication. “I’m for making students my reality.”
- Zach: “What is the most important quality in the president? Somebody who works genuinely well with students, and I think I represent that.” Pauses for effect. “I’m all for taking on the administration. I will not back down.” Malter also pushes the line of working with students. [frostedmoose: That appears to be one big ass theme.]
- O’ Donnell rebuttal: “Most of the WSA will support you, but most students don’t know what the WSA does.” Continues to criticize existing WSA organs. Encourages everybody to run for WSA to get the “stagnant body” going.
- Zach: The key is working with other students. Thinks it’s arrogant to say he knows what you want, but is all about getting the student body’s pulse.
- Melody: There’s a disconnect between the WSA and the student body. Even this debate separates the two [Ed. note: so meta.]. Wants to stress that WSA members are students.
Micah: We’re going to the stack / audience questions.
[Editor’s note: So….. because of the crappy mic we couldn’t hear the first question, but I’m guessing the answers will be explanatory of what the question is. Sorry folks, work it out yourselves.]
- Zach: “I’m really interested in social justice stuff.” I think he’s just listing down a bunch of stuff he’s involved in. All I heard thus far is the CSS, Roosevelt, something called RealTalk, etc. etc. He also makes a note that this listing this shit is fuckin’ arbitrary.
- Melody: “Also runs down a list. EON. WesFresh. Composting. “Things like that.” Makes note of ultimate Frisbee; gets a few cheers out of them. Advertises for Rho Ep Phi. Makes a note of A-Batte’s criticisms of her.
- O’ Donnell: Joe says that WSA President is not defined by the list of things they do; says something about not being “insular”?
[Frostedmoose: Quick note on the turnout – not much, to be honest. A couple of stragglers here and there. And a guy holding drum sticks. … He’s looking at me. Oh shit.] [A-Batte: Kind of disagree – earlier on in the debate, most of the tables were filled and dozens stood around the main area to listen.]
Assorted comments continued [A-Batte]:
- Zach: It’s hard out here for a president! Hold ya committee meetings if you know what’s good for you. “Working my ass off”. Joe needs to get on his game.
- Joe: Screw the ACB.
- Zach: Ask me things!
- Melody: “What do you want me to do here?” [Grace: “Tell the truth!”] Let’s not nitpick at people for stuff. Who slacked off/who forgot this is unproductive. We’re students, yo.
- Joe: The reports he has been neglecting the last couple of weeks don’t even get put online in a timely manner, anyway. It’s about reaching out to students, not doing the busy work.
- Zach: Loves working with students (still!).
Amara Davila ’13: Aside from all the political things, what do you really think of President Roth, especially in light of things like the Affirmative Action Bake Sale?
- Zach:[frostedmoose]I think President Roth some good things about the school’s public image, but I don’t really care about that. I don’t think he’s given students much of an ear, I don’t think he’s taken students seriously enough. Zach expresses doubt that Roth is not in touch with students. Lists down a number of possible Roth-dubiousness. “I’m not fond of the direction President Roth is taking with the university.” The Wesleyan’s Body is being “neutered.” I cross my legs.
- Melody: “I think President Roth is a great speaker, and is well-intentioned.” But, believes that he has a very specific notion of what Wesleyan should be like – it appears that Oliphant is not that comfortable with that. That said, she still thinks he’s well-intentioned and all that, but that he’s losing touch with the students. Also thinks that President Roth is overly concerned with the school’s image, but under concerned with helping students.
- O’ Donnell: “I think that Zach and Melody really hit the nail on the head.” O’ Donnell notes that he has much more negative experiences with “Dear Michael.” Mentions an episode where he was ‘accosted’ by President Roth here in Usdan, due to an issue regarding misconduct by Scott Backer. I think there’s a Wespeak O’Donnell wrote about that. Wait, yes there is. He just referenced it. Thinks President Roth has been vindictive against him before. Calls him a “used-car salesman, a snake oil salesman.” Wants us to be treated like adults.
…Whoa, did he just attack Micah Feiring? Yes, yes it appears he did. Whoa, Micah just cut him off. Continuing on, with A-Batte:
- Zach: Students are definitely upset, and I definitely want to communicate concerns to Roth boldly but not recklessly.
- Melody: Stresses Zach’s point. Agrees with everything Zach says [in his last comment]. Is loud. At the end of the day (buzz phrase!), gotta be respectful to get results.
- Joe: THREE. SPECIFIC. INCIDENCES. 1) WesBikes: is cool. 2) Involved in expanding sexual violence resources. 3) Actually, just two points.
Next question, from Zach Kirwood ’12:[note: this is a transcript from his written note. Differences in his verbalization included specifically mentioning that he just got out of an SBC meeting where he requested $5,000 and will probably not get it, not mentioning the concert committee head by name, end elaborating on the nature of the Matisyahu concert as ” sucking balls”.]
There are over 30 groups asking for money from the SBC today, and a lot of them will get NO MONEY because most of it was hijacked by Donovan Arthen to fund an expensive concert that ended up disastrously and cost $50K. WHAT WILL YOU DO to make sure that this utter lack of transparency with student activity funds doesnt continue? How will you prevent individual people from using their power to disenfranchise the student body?
- Melody: She’s personally dealt with a lot of funding issues. It’s important to account for all groups.
- Zach: Transparency: it still matters! All funding requests should be publicized and readily accessible. This was also a failure of money management, though. It’s your money.
- Joe: “My hands are clean. I’m not on the SBC. I’m not one of the four members of the Student Initiatives Fund – which Zach is.” Calls the Matisyahu concert an atrocity. Notes that the 55 thousand dollars could have been used for WesBikes, which he claims has been strongly demanded by students.
Question: [frostedmoose] What would you do to about the issue of mental health on campus?
- Joe: Believes the school has a great open space for dialogue on it. Makes a note: “The key is finding the right people. People who are in touch, are aware of contemporary concerns – anxiety, alcoholism, etc. – and once you have the right people, the passionate students are there.” “There needs to be some administrative support, and then students will be there.”
- Melody: “That to me is another reflection of finding out what students are worried about.” Notes that the main mechanism should be identifying student issues and alleviating them. Sounds off with O’ Donnell.
- Zach: Notes that the services on campus have been worrying to him. Wants to evaluate them – “We need a first class mental health office. We need spaces where students feel comfortable addressing these issues and a campus that is accepting and open and doesn’t frown on it.”
Question: What student on campus do you most admire?
- Zach: [verbatim] “Ali Khalid. He works for this NGO ‘Possibilities Pakistan.’ He’s extremely passionate, and works hard to contribute back to his homeland. He and I worked a lot on the halal program on campus, and he’s a pleasure to work him. I really think active students really impress me.”
- Joe: “Kennedy Odede. He’s an absolutely amazing individual – every time I talk to guy, I get a lump in my throat, I want to go out and do more than what I’m doing. He really makes me feel guilty for being a superhuman individual.” [He trips on his words here, saying “sub” instead of “super,” but we know what he meant. Oh wait, he corrected himself. Fantastic!]
- Melody: “The first person that came to my mind: Ali Khalid. I think he’s really underrated – he does an insane amount of work for the limited amount of time he has. His work with model UN, Possibilities Pakistan, the halal program. But yeah – at the end of the day, everybody’s great – I have admiration for tons of students.”
Question: What would you say your biggest weakness is?
- Melody: “My biggest perceived weakness is that I wouldn’t be taken by the WSA seriously enough. I’m always sarcastic. My other perceived weakness is time commitment.” She goes on to say that she’s going to deal with it, and she’s going to come out the better for it.
- Joe [A-Batte from this point on]: Being too passionate. Attacked as a maverick and crazy person for his heated anger at the administration, but loves to know what students want him to take on.
- Zach: Reflected on this [he looked thoughtful]. Laughs during moments of gravity. There is no double-edged sword to that quality.
- Joe: thanx 4 cumin out. Think less about specific issues and more about increasing enthusiasm and participation. We need get students more active (no one sits in on WSA meetings) so the WSA is no longer overly bureaucratic.
- Melody: Accurately describes what has been talked a lot about [including surprise contender transparency!]. she luvz wez and thinks we should really genuinely approach discussion of student life at Wesleyan. Also, stand up 2 da adminz.
- Zach: Concerned about the administration’s restrictive policy tendencies. Has proven he can get results (increasing meal plan points, housing policy, etc.). Loves working with students (consistent!).
- Melody: “We should do this again sometime.”
Hopefully our sterling journalistic integrity was upheld by this collaborative work. In conclusion, Wesleying would like to encourage you to take this with a grain of salt – also speak to the candidates themselves, watch their respective YouTube videos, and most importantly, vote Giant Joint.