The two IU Student Government presidential tickets Defy and Inspire participated in a debate on Facebook moderated by the IUSG Election Commission Tuesday night. Both tickets shared their visions for IUSG, and it’s clear that either ticket would work diligently to improve the lives of students.
Both tickets advocated for progressive change, but Defy seems more prepared to be the architects of that change. Defy was armed with clear and specific policy points, giving it the upper hand during the debate.
Sophomores Madeline Garcia and Arianna Hoye are the presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively, on the Defy ticket. Inspire’s presidential and vice presidential candidates are sophomores Rachel Aranyi and Ruhan Syed.
Many of the positions and values held by the two tickets are very similar. They’re advocating for nearly identical ends — what distinguishes them from each other is the means they say they will use to get there. Inspire’s policies are just as progressive as Defy’s, but Inspire has not established a clear path forward. Defy’s tangible action plans, including a land acknowledgment agreement to recognize indigenous communities and diversity training for all staff, give them an advantage over Inspire.
“Anything that we promise, we have steps laid out as to how we hope to make it done,” Garcia said.
This difference in the campaigns' plans was evident in their responses to how they would support survivors of sexual assault. Defy's Garcia rolled out four policies that covered email trigger warnings, better student understanding of the reporting process, cyberstalking and the definition of consent. Hoye pointed out that there are no policies regarding sexual misconduct on Inspire’s website.
The only thing close to a concrete policy that Inspire offered was putting the number of a crisis hotline on the back of Crimson Cards, which Syed said Inspire was exploring. Aranyi said Inspire wants to give student groups a platform to direct the policy.
One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. While student organizations should definitely play a part in shaping the policy, IUSG should show leadership on an issue as prevalent as sexual misconduct. The lack of a concrete policy on the issue is a significant hole in Inspire’s platform.
The plan that Inspire brought up the most often throughout the debate was its proposed leadership council. Through the council, Inspire would bring together leaders from student groups to hear directly from the students that are being affected by key issues. This is one of Inspire's strongest proposals, and one that Defy did not have a direct parallel to, but Inspire leaned on it too heavily as a replacement for having formulated policies on issues.
Defy also differentiated itself by committing to a zero-dollar campaign. Presidential campaigns are given funding by IUSG, and Defy plans to donate its allotted $2,000 to a student relief fund. Inspire did not say how it would use the funding.
Defy had a better debate performance due to the campaign clearly laying out its plans moving forward and would be better equipped to lead IUSG.
No matter which candidates you support, students can demonstrate that they care about IU by participating in the election. Two of these students will be representing the student body, and the choice is up to you. Vote.
Allyson McBride (she/her) is a sophomore studying English and political science. She is the director of outreach and diversity for College Democrats at IU.