The 2012 Debates: A Comprehensive guide to the USG Elections
Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 01:04
From A Better Baruch, Catalano says, “this a very touchy issue, and we’ve been talking about it at our Senate meetings for a while now.” He went on, “I said it before then and I’ll say it again now, I don't think religious, or spiritual advisors should be funded by student activity fees.”
“There's a separation between church and state,” he went on. “There are privately funded religious advisors on campus. I think the Imam is doing great work and I feel he should be compensated, but not from the students.”
Brodetskiy also took this stance, saying, “I agree with Chris – there shouldn't be student activity fees supporting religious figures. There is a psychologist on staff [in the counseling center] and if students need help they can go there.”
Dowd added in a post-debate interview, however, that Suit Up Baruch feels “It should be voted upon. The elected student government shouldn’t make that decision, the students should. Our own personal opinions shouldn’t matter.”
Wei also expressed that he felt that students should vote on this. “As a party though, we do believe that students should have spiritual leadership. It’s unfair to say that [spiritual leaders] shouldn’t get stipends.”
He did say, however, that “Just because they deserve a stipend, doesn’t mean they should be paid a whole lot. They shouldn’t be paid that much. Spiritual leaders are important to the school, but promoting general happiness is more important.”
The role of social media
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this race so far has been the role of social media in the shaping of the parties and campaigns.
It has proven to be integral to the communication of each party with its members and constituencies, which is to be expected. And of course through social media, there have been floods of the typical campaign sloganry and bombasticisms that have become associated unequivocally with American elections.
But social media has also served as a platform for other individuals to publicly question and criticize the parties’ claims and aims, and for people with access to official party logon information to post inflammatory remarks in response to public feedback.
A Better Baruch was the first to launch their Facebook profile, announcing their candidacy through the site on March 13. This caused a stir within CWB, who through a comment on the Better Baruch Facebook page accused Better Baruch of violating Student Election Review Committee (SERC) guidelines by “campaigning” before the official start date.
The concerns were brought to the attention of Shadia Sachedina, Director of the Office of Student Life, and on March 21, she personally reached out to each of the parties via email and gave them the “go ahead” to start campaigning, after which both teams began canvassing in earnest.
It was also through social media that the news began to spread about the stepping down of original CWB presidential candidate Adam Camacho and the formation of Suit Up Baruch.
Brodetskiy, from his own personal Facebook account, announced the new party, which at first was going to include Adam Camacho as Treasurer.
“Firstly, I apologize that some of us have been missing in recent days,” he began, “there is a specific reason for this.” He went on to explain, “A few people from Connect have joined us, including Adam,” and they left the party because they “were unhappy and uncomfortable with the efficiency and effectiveness of [CWB] meetings, the tarnished image of CWB, and the leadership.”
The tarnished image of CWB being referring to is the negative response that the team got due to their challenge of A Better Baruch on Facebook regarding SERC guidelines.
Camacho said on his Facebook later on the same night that Brodetskiy announced Suit Up Baruch, “With so many of [our] strong members leaving so quickly, I was not sure we could still run a campaign without the core of our team. I was approached by them to join as treasurer.”
“I originally decided that this would still be a great opportunity to work together…and fix our issue with image to have a fighting chance against A Better Baruch,” he said. But later, he added, “Now I am no longer running for USG,” though he plans on “working with whoever wins the election for next year.”
Although he seems to still be endorsing some of the membership of CWB in his comment he said, “I feel extremely uncomfortable abandoning the same people I have confidence in to Connect Baruch,” he also encouraged students interested in getting involved to “contact Slava to join his team, create a new team, or run independently to fight and see the change you all want to see at Baruch College.”
Throughout the weekend following these events, commentary was abundant across all lines with a good deal of input from current USG members. In fact, throughout the campaigning, some USG members have been extremely vocal on the pages of this year’s parties and candidates as they make official statements and promises.
In one Facebook standoff that caused some waves, current USG Treasurer Ramneet Sachdev questioned the platform of Suit Up on their page.
Sachdev needed “some further clarification” about the Suit Up plan to shift the focus of USG “from a governing body to a support system for student life.”
Her biggest criticism of the Suit Up plan appeared to be that clubs are already not spending all of their money every year, so if USG also stops booking rooms and hosting events, there will be a massive surplus that will lead to CUNY removing some of the current Baruch Student Life funding.
Her comment was promptly replied to under the Suit Up account by Will Ortiz, a Suit Up Baruch member, who at the time had administrative privileges for the Suit Up Facebook page. His scalding reply first attacks the commenter before taking on a condescending finish note that reads, “If you took time to read our platform, the one that's too specific for your liking, it says take a step back from being a overbearing body.”