UISG ‘debate’ goes on (sort of)

BY ANNA LOTHSON | APRIL 09, 2009 7:40 AM

The final UI Student Government “debate” went on as planned Wednesday night — with just one hitch.

Only Your Party was there.

Earlier this week, representatives of Go Party and L Party expressed concern about having UISG Director of Public Relations Bryce Carlson — who supports Your Party — moderate the debate, saying it was a conflict of interest.

Carlson sent an e-mail by midday on Wednesday with a compromise, offering each party the ability to bring its own moderator.

But for Go Party and L Party officials, their minds were made up.

“It was too little, too late,” said Go Party presidential candidate Mike Currie.

Meredith Place — a Go Party supporter —moderated Monday night’s debate.

Despite the pessimism about the night, Your Party presidential candidate Emily Grieves said the debates are not just about touting one’s platform but challenging others.

“It’s a unique opportunity,” she said, and she thought it was “disappointing” the other parties were no-shows.

Currie called the last debate nothing more than a pep rally because there are generally no attendees who haven’t yet picked a party to support.

Currie said the last-minute change was not enough time to prepare a moderator and his party would spend its time in more useful ways — such as speaking to students across campus during the scheduled debate time.

L Party officials came to the same conclusion.

“They should have tried to get a neutral moderator from the beginning,” said L Party presidential candidate Ryan Kopf.

The change made roughly five hours before the event created the illusion Carlson was being fair, Kopf said, but in reality, the move was made too late.

“It would have been nice to work together,” he said.

After the event Wednesday evening, Carlson said he thought he made it clear to all the parties he would have been fair and balanced, and he said he hoped the campaigns that didn’t show regretted not participating.

UISG President Maison Bleam said he thought Go Party and L Party overreacted. The $310 spent to rent the IMU second-floor ballroom for the event — which came out of student funds — wasn’t used as it should have been if all parties had attended, he said.

After Wednesday’s event — which lasted roughly 15 minutes — Grieves said she thought allowing each party to be represented on the moderator panel would have eliminated any hidden bias.

But, she said, regardless of the absence of Go Party and L Party, her party was still open to answering questions.

And with just a small group of people at the event — most wearing Your Party shirts — it is unknown if it will hit home with UI students.

UI senior Zach Hachmeister and UI junior Brekka Spellman both said they couldn’t name anyone running with any UISG party.

“I think they are out there, but we might need to know more specifics,” Spellman said, noting that she had only heard of Go Party.

UI senior Danielle Theriault said she doesn’t know much about the parties running, either.

“I think it’s about who can get their name out there more,” she said. “I never know their reasons” or ideas.

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