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ISSUE 121 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/21/2008

Candidates elucidate platforms

By Annie Ashby
Associate Editor

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's election season at St. Olaf, and the Student Government Association (SGA) is buzzing with activity. SGA hosted two forums last week where candidates stated their platforms and the voting community got their questions answered.

March 13 marked the second of the SGA's candidate assemblies, held in the Pause. Regular candidates were given 90 seconds to speak, followed by a quick audience question and answer session for each position. Presidential and vice-presidential candidates were given a combined three minutes.

The forum opened with remarks from emcee and SGA webmaster Nate Preisinger '08, the face behind Preisinger made sure there was no dead air, filling the time between candidates with anecdotes and jokes.

The first candidates to speak were those running unopposed: pause co-coordinators, volunteer network coordinator, and diversity celebrations coordinator.

Next, candidates running with opposition were brought to the floor. The audience provided active participation, probing them with questions regarding the tuition increase, local politics, dance moves and how to successfully reach out to the student body. This year's election features a new SGA position, music entertainment committee coordinator. This budding branch of SGA will focus on cultivating a campus music scene that is compatible with student's musical interests.

MEC candidate Morgan Harden '11 said, "This position is meant to gather the musical pull on campus. I'm thinking jam sessions in the Cross roads, and other ways to provide direct links to people who may not do surveys."

Finally, when the audience was dwindling and fidgeting on the metal chairs they had been perched on for the past hour and a half, the presidential candidate teams were brought into the spotlight.

The teams received audience questions regarding possible campaign theme songs, how to transition to having a new branch in SGA, and how the vice president plans to lead Senate.

Current SGA President Tyler Hauger '08 ended his "reign of terror" with a question on how candidates plan to make St. Olaf a better place for students as far as 10 years into the future.

"Transparency" seemed to be the buzzword for elections this year -- a word describing the ambition of SGA to be easily accessible and seen by the student body. Many speeches utilized the "transparent" theme; however, BORSC candidate Joseph Paille '11 was completely opposed to the idea. "I don't like the idea of 'transparency' -- I like the idea of open doors," Paille said. "When I was 12, I walked into a transparent door. This wouldn't have happened if it was open."

To SGA's sorrow, the audience at the forum was few and far between. Preisinger explained the scarcity. "Members of SGA were encouraged to attend, but it's a frustration of ours that the general public seems uninterested," Preisinger said. "We spend the students' money -- they should care." Students were encouraged to participate in the campus primary elections on Monday, attend the presidential debate between the two remaining pairs on Tuesday, and cast their final votes on Wednesday.

A video recording of the candidate speeches is available online at

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