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Presidential contenders discuss the issues

Surrounded by a group of students wearing campaign shirts, the three Student Government presidential candidates spoke on Feb. 23 at the Rathskeller about their goals, ideas and rules to implement if elected.

As they sat behind a table for two hours, the three candidates-Denis Brown, Mike Levine and Annette Ponnock-answered questions from moderator Martin Cruz-Mesa.

A new advising program was discussed by some of the candidates.

Levine, an SG veteran, said he hopes to implement better advising if elected.

“I don’t want regular advising,” he said. “I want real advisers.”

Ponnock, also an SG regular, said it is better to approach the advising issue differently.

“We are focused on bringing in more full-time advisers rather than replacing the existing ones,” Ponnock said.

Ponnock’s campaign also includes extending Fall Break at least one day. Levine also cited the extension as a platform goal.

Levine said he plans to bring more diversity into the school, as well to introduce a new program that will make selling books back at the end of the semester easier and more profitable for students.

“We want to do online book buyback quotes,” Levine said. “We also want Asian, Middle Eastern and African studies diversity programs.”

Treasurer candidate for Levine’s campaign, Michele James, said Levine has the capacity to become president.

“I worked with him in SG before and he is the most qualified candidate,” James said.

James said they have a major goal to accomplish.

“We want to release the stress students have in their lives,” James said.

During his turn, Brown said he has been offered several helpful suggestions.

“I want to be able to say, ‘Let’s extend the Thanksgiving break,'” he said. “We are also pushing for a student shuttle to South Beach.”

Cruz-Mesa later asked the candidates about their academic and extracurricular background.

As a member of Greek life, Ponnock said she feels confident with her experience, which includes other leadership roles, community service and academic achievements.

Levine, who has been part of the Greek life executive board, said he knows how to take the lead.

“I am always the first one to step up and lead a group project,” Levine said. “Isn’t that what the president does?”

He said he has been able to raise money for Asian and religious studies.

On the issue of the living wage, in which UM is rated the second worst paying university in the country, Levine said it is important to be neutral.

“I have listened to both sides on this issue,” he said. “I have realized there are certain things we can and cannot do at the moment.”

Ponnock said she is neutral on the issue.

Brown said tuition should not be raised because of this problem.

“I think changes can be made in more intelligent and intellectual ways,” Brown said.

He also said most students are not aware of the situation.

“I don’t even think all students fully understand the problems UNICCO workers are having,” he said. “We believe UNICCO workers should be getting paid more.”

Other questions asked included plans for enhancing UM’s style to attract more students as well as improvements to be made to better serve the students.

Ponnock said one of her plans is to improve the communication between the SG Senate and cabinet.

“The Senate is growing all the time and the Cabinet is too large,” she said.

Fanny Olmo can be contacted at f.olmo@umiami.edu.

February 28, 2006

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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