USUAA debate discusses policies, superheroes

Last Wednesday, the smell of Costco pizza wafted through the Den, the forum of this year’s USUAA Presidential debates.

The Candidates are as follows in pairs of President nominee and Vice President nominee; Ryan Buchholdt and Amie Stanley, Ashley Vanderwall and Denali Blackmore, Daniel Ribuffo and Christopher Barry. Ribuffo spoke on behalf of himself and his running mate, Barry; the latter was suffering from a form of Laryngitis. Blackmore also spoke on behalf of herself and her running mate, Vanderwall, for reasons undisclosed to the audience.

Each candidate explained their status at UAA and past involvement with student activities. Buchholdt and Stanley cited membership in the Coalition of Student Leaders, Vice Chair of the Club Council, a part of hosting the Bartlett Lecture Series, and a member of the Debate Team. Vanderwall and Blackmore included sitting senator, and a peer mentor in the residence halls. Ribuffo and Barry are an Eagle and Life Scout, respectively, along with experience as Travel Board member and RHA Treasurer.

The candidates were asked to elaborate on their campaign platforms. Buchholdt said that he an Amie gave a D.A.M.N, an acryonym they have used throughout their campaign that stands for demanding accountability, affordability of education, making students count, and nurturing student life.

Vanderwall and Blackmore were next up.
“We have many platforms such as getting students more informed and knowledgeable about what is going on in USUAA, supporting commuter students, and getting more support to The Den.”
Finally, Ribuffo and Barry explained that they want to fill leadership positions, and make accountability count for every student equally.
The moderator then allowed candidates to ask each other questions. Stanley quickly took that initiative.

“I’m kind of curious what you think the difference between being a Senator and being a President is and why you decided to run for President.”

Vanderwall took several seconds to whisper her response in her running mate’s ear. Blackmore responded.

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“She wanted to run for president because she feels that, um, she can move forward with the, um, responsibility of being a president, and creating an, um, creating an administration for USUAA.”
Barry’s response was a little more extensive.

“The difference in my opinion in being a President and a Senator, the difference between the two, is the inherent power between the two, to be a good resource not only for students but for other students and help them focus their ideas and focus their passions, while at the same time making sure that you develop more expectations for yourself.”

Candidates tossed around many ideas on how to improve the university. Buchholdt and Stanley suggested bringing back ice cream surveys, more councilor involvement, and 24 hour study halls. Vanderwall and Blackmore want more leadership scholarships, late night tutors all year long, and transparency on the need for tuition increases. Barry and Ribuffo want to revamp the Master’s program, improve relationships between students and advisors, and subsidize undeclared students, which includes tests that will help them decide on a major.

After the an hour and a half discussion, the candidates received questions from audience members. The first question was who each candidate’s favorite Super Hero was. Most people expected the typical Wonder Woman and Superman answer, which is what Buchholdt and Stanley answered with, but the rest of the responses were not what the audience expected.

“Ashley’s favorite super hero is… She’s actually more into Disney Princesses, and her favorite is Cinderella because she has talking mice,” said Blackmore for Vanderwall.
Barry wrote down his answer for Ribuffo to read, “His favorite superhero isn’t really a superhero, so sorry, but it’s not. It’s Doc Brown from Back to the Future.  He’s not a superhero, but he’s a hero which makes him super, and he’s super intelligent.”

Ribuffo continued with his own answer to the question, “My super hero isn’t a super hero, so I guess we both fail on figuring out the aspect of what a super hero is or isn’t. But my favorite fiction character is Sherlock Holmes, to me he is the embodiment of sort of the process.”

Full audio of the debate, courtesy USUAA

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