IUSA candidates reflect on debate performance, future of election

After Tuesday night’s debate resulted in varying levels of agreement between IU Student Association hopefuls, the five campaigns took to tabling across campus to convince students to get out and vote.

When reached for statements all tickets expressed satisfaction with the debate’s outcome. Engage’s presidential candidate, junior Michelle Long, said in an email her ticket was “drowning in support and optimism,” but she felt the debate had two flaws, both dealing with representation.

“There were 15 opportunities for women to speak,” Long said. “Three women spoke. I can’t act like that’s not a problem.”

The other issue she identified was a lack of debate attendees who were unaffiliated with a ticket.

She said most people came to clap for their preferred candidate, not learn from the discussion.

Engage had many supporters in the crowd as did each of the other tickets, though not every tickets’ supporters wore identifying clothing or pins.

“That’s not what public debates are for,” Long said in an email. “That wasn’t a debate, it was show-and-tell.”

In an email to the Indiana Daily Student, Focus’ presidential candidate, junior Brandon Sakbun, spoke positively of his performance. Sakbun gave opening and closing statements and answered in all question rounds.

He said his ticket did a good job of explaining how its humility distinguished it from the other four campaigns.

Sakbun refused to use the terms “best policymakers” or “most inclusive,” because at the end of the day many IU students are either not informed enough about student government’s role or had no idea it existed.

“So to say we have found a ticket in only 3 months that fully represents every student is an injustice to those who have never heard of IUSA,” Sakbun said.

Empower’s presidential candidate, junior Dan Niersbach, spoke with the IDS while campaigning outside the IU Auditorium.

He said despite his initial displeasure with the new debate structure, where only one student per ticket spoke during each part of the discussion, it ended up an amicable format for him. He thought the questions were fair and he found the answers insightful.

“You got to hear not only policies of people running for IUSA but the opinions that the people on the ticket hold,” Niersbach said. “And so I think that was a really cool parallel l, something you don’t hear enough of.”

Psych Up’s presidential candidate, sophomore Jake McWilliams, said in an email he was also happy with how the debate went.

“We feel confident entering the election,” McWilliams said. “Our platform succeeded in distinguishing ourselves from the other tickets and as a result we have been overwhelmed with the support for Psych Up!”

In an emailed statement to the IDS, IGNITE’s presidential candidate, sophomore Will McKinney, said Tuesday’s debate gave each ticket a chance to share their views on the future of IU.

“The debate displayed sportsmanship worthy of the spirit of IU, a trend We (sic.) on the IGNITE campaign have been thankful for during the entirety of election season,” McKinney said.

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