Candidates for UGBC president and vice president met on the eve of primary voting last night in Hillside for a debate sponsored by the Elections Council. The five remaining candidate teams, Vanessa Gomez and Jennifer Wanandi, both A&S ’13; Chris Osnato and Kudzai Taziva, both A&S ’13; Michael Salerni and Benjamin Donovan, both A&S ’13; Conor Sullivan, LSOE ’13, and Daniel Tonkovich, CSOM ’13; and Robert Veiga and Jeff Colonnese, both CSOM ’13, answered questions posed by ALC, GLC, the Elections Council, and The Heights.
In response to the question, “What do you think the greatest issue on campus is currently, and how would you address it if elected?” candidates gave a variety of answers. Veiga and Colonnese emphasized that lack of student involvement in the undergraduate government is the number one problem on campus, and stated that only nine of the people they spoke with during dorm walks could name the sitting UGBC president and vice president.
Gomez and Wanandi emphasized the ways in which UGBC can help student groups, a facet of the government they would like to strengthen if elected. “We want to have our directors work directly with RSOs in order to see the changes they want,” Gomez said.
When asked questions by Gururaj Shan, ALC president and A&S ’12, Osnato and Taziva stressed the importance of diversity and interaction between various groups at Boston College.
“One big thing on our platform is collaborations,” Taziva said. “We really want to encourage collaboration to bring better events to campus. Collaborations will furnish the diversity that we want to build here at BC.”
Sullivan and Tonkovich spoke often about their “create-your-own directorship” idea, a program that would allow students to approach UGBC with plans for an initiative, and receive funding with which to advance it.
A large theme to the night was issues of diversity on campus. In response to questions from the GLBTQ Leadership Council (GLC), candidate teams spoke about the ways in which they would support the interests of GLBTQ students at BC. Each team stated their belief that the GLC needs and deserves the support of the UGBC.
“The role of the student government is to advocate for the student, no matter what their sexual orientation is,” Sullivan said.
“Part of my experience here at BC has been the Backgrounds seminar,” Wanandi said. “I really want to work with ALC and Cabinet to push this diversity seminar to come into fruition.”
Students also spent time emphasizing the ways in which they differed from the other teams.
Salerni and Donovan pointed out that there were no supporters wearing their t-shirts at the debate simply because they didn’t make any, a fact that they felt emphasized their dedication to fiscal responsibility and a realistic approach to tangible issues on campus.
“We’re here to deal with the issues that really affect the student body, for instance, the smoking campus,” Salerni said. “We aren’t here to promise you things that are non-issues or things that you just want, like ABC Family on your TV. We want to get rid of red tape that held up the Outdoors Club from getting approved for a year because they couldn’t decide if it was athletic or academic.”
“Chris and I are very charismatic and approachable, an important characteristic of leaders,” Taziva said. “We want people to flag us down and talk to us.”
Wanandi and Gomez pointed out the strength of their experience in UGBC as the characteristic that most sets them apart from the other teams. “The UGBC office is our home,” Gomez said. “A lot of times I put UGBC work before my homework.”
Wanandi also pointed out that they were the only team of both females to be running. If they were to be elected president and vice president, Gomez and Wanandi would be the first two-female team to assume office in the history of the organization.
Primary voting begins today, Feb. 9, and ends on Friday, Feb. 10. The primaries will eliminate three of the teams, leaving the top two vote-getting teams to battle in the final week of campaigning before the official vote.