In a roughly 45-minute long debate, three Class of 2015 presidential hopefuls sparred over how to engage the freshman class and improve dining options and security on campus.
The Student Government Association hosted the debate for the last night before a packed house. The two-hour long event held in Charles Beard room was a part of the SGA Speech and Debate Night in preparation for the special elections next week.
Candidates Paul Almeida, Donovan Birch Jr., and Ben Halls spent the evening responding to an assortment of questions, led by moderator and Class of 2014 President Jon Allen.
Halls, a 24-year-old writing, literature, and publishing major, said his time working as a copywriter prior to attending Emerson has provided him with real-world experience that he believes will ultimately set him apart from the rest of the candidates.
Throughout the debate, Halls touched on a variety of topics, pinpointing his priority concern of campus safety. Hall said as a leader, his goal would be to remain as transparent as possible in the decision-making process, emphasizing the importance of clear communication with his constituents through social media and blogging.
“There are over 900 of us and there will always be unpopular decisions,” Halls said in his British accent. “You can’t always please everyone, but the easiest way is to be available is to talk.”
Almeida, a political communication and marketing communication double major who served as class president at his high school, said that his agenda would focus on continuing efforts to improve the optionsin the cafeteria, such as providing Kosher meals.
Almeida said he hoped to forge a stronger unity between different majors on campus, something he has noticed as lacking in his first few months at Emerson. Almeida said that regardless of the outcome of the election, he will remain active on campus and will continue to run in elections.
“I don’t have to win, I’ll stick around,” Almeida said. “But this is the way I can serve you guys to the best of my ability.”
Birch, an energetic political communication major who spoke so fast each sentence ended with a gasp, said that what the school needs is a leader who can embody the energy and vivaciousness of the freshman class, singling out school spirit as his main issue of concern.
“It’s one thing to say we have concerns, it’s another thing to rouse your constituents to get behind you and want to do something,” said Birch. “I am the person that can help us get things done.”
Birch said that his goal is to host a number of events that will bring Emerson together as a community, citing Emerson’s small size as his favorite aspect of the college, which he believes adds to the “intimacy” of the campus.
“I’m very committed to this class and the community,” he said. “I’m a part of the class of 2015 for four years, I’m staying, you can’t get rid of me.”
When asked by Allen what they thought about revoking The Berkeley Beacon’s guaranteed funding — eight percent of the student activities fee allotted through a constitutional clause — responses were vague but varied.
Halls maintained that the issue was too large to be summed up in the minute and 30 seconds time frame, while Almeida thought that the Beacon would have no problem getting funding regardless of the change. Donovan, who agreed with the initiative, stated that the Beacon should follow the same procedures as all other student organizations.
Closing the debate, Halls reiterated the notion that in the infancy of the freshman class council, the bulk of efforts should be put toward talking to fellow classmates.
“Our main ambition for this upcoming semester is to get class council to talk to as many students as possible, and finding out what issues people want to address,” he said.
Voting will begin at 12 a.m. Dec. 5, and closes at midnight Dec. 6.