Powell, Vicente to debate tonight before runoff student body president election
The Carolina Coalition of Voters, created only last week, is hosting a debate today for the two UNC students racing to hold the highest office in student government.
Seven student organizations have come together to sponsor the debate during a run-off election between Andrew Powell and Emilio Vicente — an event that organizer Peter Vogel said is largely unprecedented.
He organized the event with senior Michael Hardison.
“We were literally sitting on our couch one day, and said, ‘Hey, our school needs this,’” Vogel said.
The Coalition of Carolina Voters is not an official student organization within the University, but is made up of several official groups: Campus BluePrint, the UNC Roosevelt Institute, Carolina Mock Trial, the Campus Y, Student Congress, the Sierra Student Coalition and The Hill.
Vogel said the coalition would not endorse a candidate after the debate.
Campus Y Co-Presidents Cora Went and Natalie Borrego said they want to use the debate to help undecided and nonvoters make an informed decision.
“We want our members to make a more informative decision,” Went said, adding that she also wants to see the candidates taking a stance on social issues as they come up next year.
Campus BluePrint and The Hill are both non-partisan campus publications. Troy Homesley, executive editor of Campus BluePrint, said he hopes the debate will help make the candidates better leaders.
“It’s easy to put things on a platform, but it’s not so easy to figure out how those things will get done,” he said.
The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief, Brendan Cooley, said he wants the debate to generate conversation among Vicente and Powell.
“We’re more interested in the forum — and having a conversation back and forth. We want a conversation that is less political and more real,” he said.
Vogel said students who attend the debate will have the chance to discuss after the candidates have left. The conversation will be led by moderators.
Seniors Hetali Lodaya and Anna Sturkey will moderate — Lodaya ran for student body president last year and Sturkey currently serves as the undergraduate student attorney general. Lodaya said her experience will help her moderate fairly.
“We want to find out about the candidates strategy for accomplishing things on a day to day basis,” Lodaya said. “How is your executive branch going to be organized?”
Carolina Mock trial is also a part of the debate. Members will be there to ensure that standard debate procedures occur.
Anthony Ferrara, executive board member of Carolina Mock Trial, said the debate will help fight off voter apathy, which he said is more prevalent during the run-off election than the first two weeks.
Vogel said he hopes the event can be an annual feature of student body elections.
“Because in every election there is a need for scholarly, thought-provoking debate rather than just these forums that can become kind of vacuous.”