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The Daily Tar Heel

Student body president forum pushes candidates to endorse opponent

The candidates were in a tough position.

At a forum hosted by The Daily Tar Heel Sunday, the presidential hopefuls were forced to answer a question they had all successfully avoided in a previous debate.

“If you had to choose candidate other than yourself to endorse, who would it be — and you can’t say you can’t choose between the other three,” said Nicole Comparato, editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel and moderator of the forum.

Emilio Vicente, who answered first, complimented all his competitors before answering Andrew Powell — because the two had similar goals.

Nikita Shamdasani echoed Vicente’s sentiments and gave her support to Powell, who she said she has worked with closely through the Morehead-Cain Scholars Program.

Powell and Winston Howes gave their support to Shamdasani, who they said valued students’ input.

During the past week, the candidates have attended many debates held by student organizations, and several of the themes of previous debates were revisited.

Vicente spoke of a student government that listened to and incorporated all groups on campus. Both Howes and Shamdasani reiterated the impact that their web-based ideas, openUNC and Neighborland, could have on UNC. Powell said he would like to rethink the model of higher education as a way to cut costs and enhance learning.

During the portion of the forum where guests were allowed to ask questions, Connor Brady, speaker of Student Congress, asked the candidates about transparency. He specifically called on Shamdasani to answer for endorsing a veto of a bill which would have required student government to publish their meeting minutes and agendas online.

Shamdasani said he had taken her statement out of context. She said her reason for the veto was because she thought other methods could better ensure transparency.

In regards to specific areas of sexual assault policy that needed work, Powell said he wanted more experts involved in the process, and that policies such as the newly-instated Interfraternity Council amendment requiring fraternities to be One Act trained, were steps in the right direction.

Howes said he would create a smartphone application that could centralize resources for students about sexual assault — he said changing policy and culture went hand in hand.

On the issue of tuition increases, Shamdasani referenced her experience in student government as a key attribute that would assist her in handling the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees.

“That’s something we need to act on right now,” she said. “We need to mobilize students on that right now.”

Howes said he would be able to move the University forward by implementing his technology-centered platform. He also said the key components of his UNC 2.0 platform, and how they would be able to solve many of the problems the University faces today.

“The openUNC app would provide an easy-to-understand summary on what student government did in the week,” he said.

The Daily Tar Heel’s editorial board, which met with candidates separately, will make its endorsement Tuesday, the day of the election.

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