Finance, advocacy dominate USG presidential debate

USG presidential candidate Dan Gallo speaks during Wednesday’s debate with Colin Williams, Matt McKee and Taryn Fitch. Election day is quickly approaching with polls opening on Apr. 8.

Shannon Snyder / Observer

USG presidential candidate Dan Gallo speaks during Wednesday’s debate with Colin Williams, Matt McKee and Taryn Fitch. Election day is quickly approaching with polls opening on Apr. 8.

Noora Somersalo, Student Affairs Reporter

The Undergraduate Student Government elections are quickly approaching, and the campaigns for executive positions are in full swing. On Wed., Apr. 3, dozens of students gathered in the Jolly Scholar at the presidential debate to get to know the candidates better and see who has what it takes to be the next head of the student body.

After introductions, the candidates were immediately put on the spot as they had to define the role of USG for Case Western Reserve University students. Out of all the questions asked on Wednesday night, this was one of the only questions that prompted diverse responses from the candidates.

Matt McKee, the current speaker of the assembly, highlighted the role of USG as a supporter of student organizations.

Taryn Fitch, who currently serves as vice president of academic affairs, emphasized the importance of USG as a means to help students develop their leadership skills. Dan Gallo, vice president of public relations, and Colin Williams, vice president of finance, underlined USG’s role as a liaison between students and the university administration.

All of the four candidates seemed to share similar ideas and opinions on a majority of the topics. Throughout the debate, the relationship between students and USG was mentioned multiple times. All of the candidates swore to ensure that – were they elected – the students’ voices would be better heard in the future.

On many occasions, the candidates also stressed the importance of internal management. Williams especially illustrated his plans on working closely with the vice presidents of the committees and strongly encouraging efficiency in policymaking.

USG’s external issues were also among the underlying themes of the debate. The candidates specifically addressed the topic of caucus outreach. Fitch stated that encouraging the representatives to seek out students and advertise their respective caucuses would be a major improvement over the current situation.

In terms of the organization’s retention, which was one of the questions posed by the audience, Gallo discussed his ideas to improve USG’s cohesiveness by encouraging its members to interact with each other outside official meetings. McKee, in turn, advocated for increased focus on open discussion during General Assembly meetings to make USG representatives feel more included in the organization.

Perhaps one of the most important questions concerned the most recent budget, which was passed on Tuesday at the General Assembly meeting. According to the current estimates, the new budget includes a rollover of approximately $100,000. The audience members wanted to know what the presidential candidates had to say about the rollover and what their plans would be as the president to reduce the amount of rollover funds.

All of the four candidates agreed that the current rollover situation is a significant problem. However, there were discrepancies among them about whether USG would still continue spending money as it has been before. McKee and Fitch both stated that the rollover money should be returned to the students, the former noting further that more risks should be taken with funding.

Gallo and Williams diverged from this argument, both agreeing that even though the amount of funds is too high, it should not be wastefully spent and that any risks should be calculated. Gallo further suggested that the money could perhaps be used for the student life improvement grants.

Voting for all USG executive positions begins on Mon., Apr. 8 at 8 a.m. and lasts until the end of Tues., Apr. 9. All CWRU undergraduate students are eligible to vote.