Four Teams Vie at MSA Debate

The candidates running for MSA president and vice president took stage Feb. 22 to voice their platforms before the upcoming March vote.

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Students ate Qdoba and tweeted in questions as MSA presidential and vice presidential candidates squared off on issues relating sexual assault, campus political climate, mental health, and food security at Coffman Memorial Union Theater Feb. 22.

The mostly amicable debate gave stage to each team’s presidential and vice presidential candidate—Matt Snow and Lauren Loeb; Trish Palermo and Erik Hillesheim; Nick Alm and Makda Biniam; Charlie Parker and Simran Mishra. Although each campaign is coed, Palermo is the only female presidential candidate. Snow and Loeb comprise the only ticket without at least one member with prior MSA experience.

Fostering effective relationships with University administrators prevailed as a common thread of discussion during the debate. Presidential candidate Alm, MSA speaker of the forum, and his running mate Biniam, MSA academic affairs committee director, said they’re committed to holding administrators accountable without severing ties necessary for collaboration.

Chair of Student Senate Palermo and running mate Hillesheim, president of Delta Sigma Pi fraternity, emphasized their focus on reforming alleged malpractice at University dining halls, saying they’ve been in contact already with University Dining Services to voice their concerns. Palermo said her previous MSA advocacy experience has prepared her to tackle issues like these.

Giving voice to underrepresented groups within MSA was another topic that captivated the candidates’ attention. MSA Director of Membership Parker and Mishra, diversity and inclusion committee co-director, underscored the effect of a “toxic political climate” on marginalized populations at the University. They said leading MSA with care and compassion would help boost representation and inclusion of these groups in MSA.

The Snow and Loeb campaign’s focus Wednesday night centered on ending division on campus. They stressed the need for a unified student body and the importance of bringing about positive change to MSA.

While momentary sparks of disagreement flickered during the open discussion period, the debate remained mannerly, thanks to, in some part, Moderator Alex White.

Voting for MSA president and vice president is open from March 1-3.