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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


USG candidates face off in debate ahead of annual elections

The 2015 Undergraduate Student Government election debate hinged on the theme of experience versus originality among the PARTY Party,  the HOUSE Party and independent candidates on Wednesday night in the Student Union.

The PARTY (Proactive, Accessible, Responsible, Transparent and for You) Party’s executive council candidates consist of current USG senators and employees, as well as the current USG Executive Vice President and candidate for president, James Alrassi.

“Like anybody who is involved with clubs on campus, it’s not something you get involved with for one year and then drop the next year,” Alrassi said. “The way I see USG is kind of my niche on campus. It’s where I feel comfortable. It’s where I feel really passionate. I wake up and the first thing I do when I get onto campus is grab my bacon, egg and cheese and then head up to my office.”

From the HOUSE (Holistic Opportunities Utilized for Student Equity) Party, Executive Vice President candidate Krisly Zamor, Treasurer candidate Naib Chowdhury and Vice President of Academic Affairs candidate Danielle Ali were not in attendance.

But the HOUSE Party focused its comments on the new outlook it plans to bring to USG.

“I wanted to provide students with an alternative option this time around as opposed to last year when the USG elections were uncontested,” Cole Lee, the HOUSE Party presidential candidate and a USG senator, said. “I formed a party that is extremely diverse, club leaders, students leaders all across campus who know what the issues are and who speak with the students on a day to day basis.”

The HOUSE Party plans to push for library hours to be extended to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Alrassi said a 24/7 library would require an additional $3 million to make up for the 55 percent increase in staff hours.

Lee, who met with Division of Information Technology staff members, said “if students rally in support, the administration will provide the resources.”

Nathan Blazon-Brown, the vice president of student life candidate for the PARTY Party, said his goal is to increase traditions on campus aside from the large-scale concerts.

“It doesn’t just have to be concerts,” Blazon-Brown said. “It doesn’t just have to be shows. I think one of the things that we’re really lacking right now is traditions.”

A source of controversy on the HOUSE Party platform is its plan to create USG-funded scholarships. Although it was previously said that using the Student Activity Fee for scholarships went against the SUNY Chancellor Guidelines, Lee found that USG scholarships are legal if awarded by the university’s administration and that he would plan to use unallocated funds in the USG budget.

Raisa Nishat, an independent candidate for vice president of clubs and organizations, found being unaffiliated with a party to be beneficial.

“For us to come in, it would kind of be like a new vibe I guess, something fresh, something new, maybe represent the student body in a different way than the people currently involved in USG,” Nishat said.

Christopher Smith, an independent candidate for vice president of student life, also brought some new ideas, including a common area for students on campus.

“I was at Staller about two weeks ago, there were a ton of people outside and it really hit home for me. There’s no real common area for students to hang out especially when it’s not nice out,” Smith said. “I think there should be some location where the student body can come together converge and foster a greater sense of community here at Stony Brook.”

Freshman Elmer Flores, an independent candidate for vice president of clubs and organizations, showed enthusiasm for the position.

“I’m trying to increase voter turnout,” Flores said. “I’m trying to increase participation of freshmen in USG, and the only position that freshmen can hold within USG that they actually get is probably the freshman rep. And by me running for this position I’m changing the dynamics of USG.”

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