Undergraduate Student Association president Brock Wilkinson and Speaker of the Senate Eric Hammer, both juniors, attempted to sway the minds of Canisius students Wednesday with claims to best represent the diverse student body if elected in the upcoming presidential election next week.
The debate opened with a statement from Hammer. “My entire campaign can be summed up in four words: ‘I’m here for you,’ ” he said. Hammer defined his mission is to return student government to the students. He ended with “In the next hour, I plan to prove I am the best candidate for the job and I represent you, ‘I’m here for you,’” he said.
Wilkinson began with discussing his educational background and activity involvement at Canisius. “Freshman year, I started out fall semester, didn’t talk much. I still don’t talk much to tell you the truth, but I do listen. I do make sure all the concerns of the students are heard,” Wilkinson said. He said there were a lot of things he learned this year in his position and there’s a lot of things he would do differently. “I would like to think that this year went well, and I’m going to continue to do my job,” he said.
During the debate, the two candidates covered a variety of issues including funding of the NFTA metro passes, the budget allocation approval process, the number of clubs on campus, concerns about the Council of Presidents, the relationship between USA and Student Programming Board, the $1,000 stipends every member of USA executive board receives, the Canisius College mission statement and administration’s decision to cancel certain speakers on campus.
NFTA metro passes
Hammer and Wilkinson are both in favor of funding the NFTA metro passes. Wilkinson suggested renovating the shuttle system as a solution. Hammer expressed although he supports continuing funding, he does not want to raise student tax dollars anymore than needed.
Too many clubs on campus?
Wilkinson said recruiting is everything and everyone should attend accepted students day. Hammer wants to trim clubs after doing a cost analysis of each club, “we need to see what exactly benefits students the most.”
Council of Presidents
Both candidates acknowledged there are issues with the current state of the Council of Presidents.
“It’s once a month, I don’t really want to go, but it’s another hour meeting I have to attend, but I’m still going to go because I want to get to know other clubs on campus,” Wilkinson said. “There’s 106 motivated people in that room, they deserve their voice to be heard,” he said.
Hammer proposed less physical COP meetings and more meetings on the Internet. Wilkinson wants to address the succession issue next year by having elections on a calendar year as opposed to a semester year.
Relationship between SPB and senate
Wilkinson commented on the success of bringing Phillip Phillips to campus and wants to work closer with SPB next year and wants to “plan bigger, party harder.”
Hammer is also in favor of bigger events but also believes Spring Fest is way too small. “Spring fest is an event more people can go to, it’s open, it’s free and we should be spending our money there.”
Hammer presidency vs. Wilkinson presidency
Reflecting on his past year as USA President, Wilkinson referenced his three goals of creating transparency on campus, enhancing commuter life and, “I don’t even remember the last one – we must have accomplished it,” he joked.
Hammer said if he were president, he would have set an agenda to see what students actually care about.
Canisius mission statement and new branding campaign
Wilkinson said the mission and identity campaign means to students and wants to uphold Jesuit ideals. Hammer thinks new marketing program does not accurately reflect who we are as a community.
Bridge between senate and administration
Wilkinson admitted there are a lot of administrative problems going on, but students should focus on the positives.
Hammer promised to talk to administration and students. He wants to represent the student voice that currently is not being heard.
During the student question-and-answer session students expressed concerns about extending the Canisius community to commuters and resimuters, the new branding campaign, how to diffuse tension at senate meetings, involvement between USA and diversity organizations on campus and bridging the gap between senate and administration
Wilkinson closed by saying he didn’t prepare a closing statement or an opening statement. “But I am going to stay there’s always room for improvement and there was major issues that came up this year,” he said.
Wilkinson said he enjoys being at Canisius and there have been a lot of positive changes this year and he thinks administration has been doing a great job.
“Let’s just have a good time guys, its college. I really do believe Canisius is a great place and I want to make a difference here on campus,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson believes setting a positive attitude is key and that there are unlimited possibilities at Canisius.
Hammer closed ended the debate with, “At the risk of sounding cliché, I believe we are the best because we attract the best people,” he said. “I firmly believe Canisius College is still ‘where leaders are made.’ ”
Hammer also said the senate has become too far removed from the students. Hammer wants to encourage goal setting and said the smaller efforts are not good enough. “It’s time for your voice to be heard, and I want to be your advocate,” he said.
“The only promise I’ll make tonight is I’ll give you my magis – magis means more,” he said. “For me that means giving you the proactive leadership you deserve.”
Voting for all USA executive board positions will open on Collegiate Link on March 18 at 9 a.m and close on March 21 at 4 p.m.