What you missed at the SG Presidential Debate | The American Word

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What you missed at the SG Presidential Debate

Jenna Fortunati | 3/28/17 3:32pm
| Updated 3/28/17 4:25pm

Andy Lalwani

The race for American University Student Government President heated up this past Thursday night with a one-hour debate between the candidates. The debate, hosted by ATV, was livestreamed and followed by a one-hour town hall where AU students could ask questions in the Tavern.

The four candidates are juniors Taylor Dumpson and Terry Altherr and sophomores Haley Lickstein and Andy Schwarz. All presidential candidates are students at the School of Public Affairs.

The candidates took the studio debate as an opportunity to discuss their ideas for Student Government (SG) as well as engage in some debate among themselves, notably about stipends for SG Executive Branch officials.

Schwarz raised the issue by saying he would like to significantly decrease the size of the stipend, in accordance with his budget platform. Lickstein then defended the stipend program by saying that it allows all American University students to participate in SG by compensating them for their work and enabling them to stay on campus during the summer. Dumpson took this further by advocating for expanding the stipend program to other campus leaders. Altherr noted that he would forfeit his stipend if elected.

Diversity and inclusion were also big themes among the candidates. Dumpson discussed the need to hire more professors of color, especially in the School of Public Affairs. She also noted her goal of “creat[ing] safe spaces for marginalized students outside of CDI,” referring to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, an office which Dumpson said faced too much pressure to serve all AU students by itself.

Lickstein agreed with the pressure put on CDI and also advocated for dividing the issues CDI handles into separate offices in order to devote more resources to each issue. She also discussed a “racial awareness” program at Eagle Summit, and, when asked by an ATV moderator, noted that her idea does not have to be “mutually exclusive” with the plan put forward by the Darkening.

All candidates advocated for expanding the counseling services available for students, with Altherr noting that the maximum eight counseling sessions students are allowed per academic year are not enough. “It should be eight per semester, not per year,” Altherr said.

Dumpson said that the university administration actually wants to increase funding for counseling services but physically cannot because of the lack of available office space for the Counseling Center. If elected President, she would try to help the Counseling Center find more office space.
Regarding student safety, Schwarz noted the impracticalities of limiting nighttime swipe access to the Katzen Center to only art students. He said that this is dangerous for students who need to study inside Katzen after hours because “they have to wait outside alone for someone to open the door for them.” This is something Schwarz would like to change if elected President.

Voting for President, Vice President, Secretary, Comptroller and other positions begins this Tuesday. You can vote on your student portal until Friday.