I wish I could tell you all that at tonight’s S.A. Presidential Debate, Senator Marc Abanto leapt from his chair and throttled Casey Pond, or that panelist Gabriel Okolski stirred tempers by referring to David “Tito” Wilkinson as a “bright, clean” candidate, or…well, I wish I could tell you something terribly interesting.
Unfortunately, the debate–which clocked in at an hour and ten minutes, not including the supremely useless “Executive Vice-President” section–was downright boring. All the candidates said precisely what you would expect them to say, no crippling disagreements arose at all (when, exactly, did political debating cease to actually involve significant disagreement?), and the candidates got all of their sound-bites spot on.
So, like any good journalist in the absence of a decent story, I had to find one. A few things that struck your humble correspondent:
1) Sartorial Follies/Style Notes: While all of the candidates were, of course, immaculately clothed, leave it to the peripheral participants to make a real statement. I’m not talking about Brand Kroeger’s traditional bow-tie, either. The primary “offenders” were panelists Andrew Springer, Gabriel Okolski of the GW Hatchet, and S.A. President Lamar Thorpe. Interestingly, it was all about the footwear: Thorpe wore a pair of tan-colored dress shoes that clashed with his dark suit. Okolski was sporting a pair of dark boots (“ropers,” apparently) with his suit, and Andrew Springer was rocking a pair of white sneakers.
Other style-related observations: (a) “Tito” Wilkinson needs to drop the facial hair, just like Lamar did the right thing shaving off his ‘fro, and (b) Gabriel Okolski’s jowls were impressively large for a young man of his age.
2) They’ve Found The Lost Middle Year of College: During the question-and-answer section, students in the audience were asked to state their name and class with their question. Two students claimed that their class year was “somewhere between sophomore and junior.” I realize that these people (like me) are probably Sophomores with Junior standing. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t being stupid.
3) Best Line of the Night: This award goes to Casey Pond, who–after listening to the other candidates make a litany of ridiculous promises–had this to say: “I dont know if this is gonna lose me votes or not, but I’m gonna be real honest with you. Campaigning is a strange monster, you have all these things that you want to do, like open everything in the world 24 hours, [...] and think you’re going to bring everybody together and have like a million ‘town hall meetings’ a day.”
Perhaps you had to be there to understand the comedy, because Michael Ray Huerta had just previously proposed having no less than five different “town hall meetings” (read: opportunities for students to snag free pizza by listening to President Knapp talk for twenty minutes), and as much as I love to hear concrete policy proposals, some of this crap was just unbelievable.
4) Best Concrete Policy Proposal: Nicole Capp, promising to work for an actual grocery store on/near campus that takes GWorld. I’m tired of eating Wendy’s three times a day. Disgusting. She said: “If we can’t find a grocery store within an appropriate radius to our campus, then we need to–as a university–bring back to the Marvin Center some kind of facility where we can get groceries. If you can’t find a grocery store, then we have to have one here in the basement of the Marvin Center.” Hopefully, though, whatever grocery store we get will be superior to District Market–which was essentially the bastard child of Trader Joe’s and 7-Eleven.
5) Most Awkward Moment: In his introduction, President Lamar Thorpe was ranting about how hard it is to be President of the Student Association. Apparently, according to Thorpe, as President you spend “ninety-nine percent of your time behaving so that, uh…well, we all know what I’m talking about [laughter]…so that the S.A. has a good image.” This line left three thoughts in my mind:
1) If he only spends 99% of his time behaving, what does he do during the other 1 percent?
2) I actually don’t know what you’re talking about, Lamar, but I want to.
3) Poor Lamar–has the S.A. been interfering with your love life? Take a lesson or two from Slick Willie: the chicks love power and responsibility.
I had a flashback at that moment to President Shakour’s sex scandal last year. Good times.
6) Most Regrettable Evasion: Casey Pond evaded Gabriel Okolski’s question on drug and alcohol policy with some vague response about “evaluating” the effect of our drug policies on students. No other candidates made statements on the issue. Cowards. This is one of my personal “top three” issues, and I think it definitely deserved to be discussed in more depth, no matter on what side of the issue you stand.
7) Most Important Issue That Wasn’t Addressed (Besides Drug Policy): Tuition. We pay $50,000 a year to attend a University that isn’t even in the national Top Fifty. Whether or not you support granting more financial aid, or you think that we pay too much for too little of a return, it was criminal that they didn’t talk about this, but instead patted each other on the back over the Darfur scholarship program and the $60,000 student fee increase.
8) Worst Job Evading One’s Past Experience: As we all know, politicking is as much about escaping your past as it is touting it. When asked about their experience assisting with the Colonial Trader website (an $11,000 fiasco), both Casey Pond and “Tito” Wilkinson responded with statements to this effect: “Oops. That sucked. But, of course, I wasn’t the one that screwed up. That said, sorry about the $11,000, chumps.”
9) Best Crowd-Enforced Smack-Down of a Cocky Candidate: Nicole Capp, when asked about the proposed Four-by-Four plan, she responded that she was undecided on the issue because–get this–she didn’t know enough. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she then proceeded to tell the crowd that we didn’t know enough about it. When she asked the crowd “who here actually understands Four-by-Four?”, almost everyone in the auditorium raised their hand.
10) Proof of Natural Selection: This year’s S.A. President, Lamar Thorpe, is an atrocious public speaker, which is part of the reason that I like him. On the other hand, the five candidates this year are all smooth as finely-aged cognac–like most politicians, it seems they’ve had the surgery which replaces your sense of sincerity with a gland that oozes oratorical skill.
And so I declare the official winners and losers of this year’s First Annual S.A. Presidential Candidate Debate:
Winner: A close tie between Gabriel Okolski’s cowboy boots, and the acre-wide circles underneath Casey Pond’s eyes.
Loser: You, me, and just about every other dupe that was shilled into paying $50,000 to come to this University. Joke!
See you next year, S.A.
[Note: I didn't stay for the EVP debate, because I was tired, the EVPs are irrelevant, and I have a personal dislike for a particular EVP candidate, so much so that it pains me to hear this person talk.]