As a writer for the campus newspaper at the University of Minnesota-Morris, The University Register, I cover the state and local political scene along with whatever is sent my way by the News Editor. As one of the students on the election commission responsible for organizing the debate, it only made sense to cover it. It was published on April 2, 2010.
MORRIS, MN – Standing before a room of thirty or more students, most of whom came as part of a campaign, Campus Assembly student representatives Colin Stemper and Elizabeth Thoma took to their podiums Tuesday evening to discuss before those present why they wanted to be the Morris Campus Student Association vice-president.
Winning the coin toss, Thoma, who is running with Rep. Michael Mcbride, was the first to speak. Introducing herself as a relatively new member of Campus Assembly, she emphasized her experience as both assemblywoman and residential advisor as preparation for a job that would require her not only to moderate forum but to chair the All-University committee.
When it was his turn to speak, Stemper, who is running alongside Rep. Matt Privratsky, also emphasized his experience as an assemblyman but pointed out his strong working relationship with members of the faculty and students alike as a worker for the Information Center.
While both were quick to point out that they were each more than qualified to be vice-president, as they answered questions prepared by the election commission and those asked by the audience, their job was to convince those present why they believed themselves to be most qualified. Beginning with questions prepared by the Morris Campus Student Association (MCSA) election commission, both candidates laid out the initiatives they planned to pursue were they to be elected.
“I believe it is our responsibility as student leaders to encourage student participation by making students once again invested in their student government. By providing monetary grants to organizations working in collaboration to help the student body, nurturing the sense of community that is here and hosting our forum meetings outside of the basement of the Science building and in the Student Center,” Thoma said, “we can do that.”
Stemper followed, “Since this will be our job – we are in fact paid – we will do our job by getting more students involved in student government.” Speaking to the complaints of some faculty that students do not care about university government since several student spots are not filled on certain committees, he continued, “What message would it send to faculty if we got all of our committee roles filled?”
When asked to summarize their plans for developing the role of the office of vice-president, both candidates agreed that the office had to be expanded from being the simple moderator of the MCSA forum to one that is a full working relationship with the president and that will allow for, in the words of Thoma, “a diversity of opinion in deliberation behind the scenes.”
Ending shortly before 8:00pm, one attendee of the event, Bennett Smith ’10, commented on the debate as a whole, “I was disappointed that it wasn’t better attended because I think it’s going to be an important year for students to stand up and make their voices heard.”
Each ticket’s Petitions of Reason can be found in this edition of The University Register and on the official MCSA website at www.morris.umn.edu/mcsa. The MCSA presidential debate will be on Tuesday, April 6, in the Science Auditorium at 7:00pm.