The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 28th

Debate Incites Smiles, Talk of Issues

All seven official candidates and a write-in candidate participated in the event, which was co-hosted by the Blue & White and The Daily Tar Heel.

The first segment of the debate involved questions asked by two mediators, one from each of the sponsoring media outlets. The role the student body needs to play in the government was a common theme throughout the debate.

"It's very important for students to let us know what they want," said candidate Warren Watts.

Candidate Eric Johnson also stressed student involvement. "As long as such a small percentage of students vote in student elections, it will be easy for administration to write you off," he said.

Candidate Justin Young agreed. "The biggest opportunity is to be the voice of the student," Young said. "But that's also that biggest limitation: (The student body president) is the sole voice of the students."

During the first portion, some candidates also emphasized the need to address transportation congestion that might accompany the Master Plan, the University's long-term plan for campus expansion. "Students are getting unfairly ticketed because there are no parking spaces," said candidate Correy Campbell. "We need to focus on public transportation -- maybe more buses and routes."

Candidate Dustyn Baker said dialogue should be key to Master Plan dealings. "I want to foster more open communication from South Campus to the Master Plan committee and from the Master Plan committee back to South Campus."

During the second segment of the forum, candidates asked questions of one another. Write-in candidate Charlie Trakas took the opportunity to ask candidate Annie Peirce to address allegations that had been made against her concerning illegal campaigning last semester.

Peirce admitted to contacting about 400 student organizations but maintains that she never advertised her desire to run for student body president. "I did not break any rules," she said. "I was researching for my campaign."

The Board of Elections dismissed the charges, which were brought by members of Johnson's campaign.

In the third portion, mediators chose a question at random and gave the candidates 30 seconds to answer, a test to see how quickly candidates could think on their feet. Candidates were asked to create a Home Shopping Network ad for student government, a task that several candidates tackled with much gusto.

After launching into an Australian-accented tirade on the benefits of student government, Trakas concluded, "But that's not all! Act now and you'll receive beer! Lots and lots of beer!"

The final portion of the evening consisted of a Q-and-A session by members of the various media organizations present. A reporter from the Carolina Review asked each candidate for ideas on reforming the Honor Court. Candidate Caleb Ritter said, "I'd like to see some faculty members at least advise the Honor Court before they make a decision which could significantly alter a student's life."

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