SA Presidential Debates 2012
Candidates: Ben Chou, Ben Hawriluk, Sanjula Jain and Jonathan Stewart/Kevin Bush (Joke Candidates)
Moderated by Chance Marshall, SA director of elections and Seth Brown, Thresher news editor
Chou: Thank you to everyone for showing up today. I'm a rising senior at Martel. The turning point [at Rice] is rising tuition costs. At the end of the day, if student that comes from working or middle class family can't afford to come here, we don't benefit. Each person is paying $50,000 in tuition. That's doubled from 2003.
Hawriluk: [Starts out with a joke] I want to focus on the revamping of the LPAP and waitlist system. Professors should be able to decide who goes into their class, not the administration.
Jain: I've been an Academics committee member, chair, and EVP. I know what the SA does. I represent you. I want to reach out to you. I want to bring the SA to you.
Bush and Stewart: [After a late entrance, taking back the chairs on the panel from two stand-ins.] Thank you to the presidential seat warmers! The parking is terrible here!
Q: What makes you the most qualified candidate?
Chou: I want to work to make sure that you don't have to pay tuition if your family makes less than $120,000 per year.
Hawriluk: I want to revamp the waitlist and LPAP systems. I want to increase the green initiative. I want to work on installing sleeping pods at Fondren.
Jain: I want to take the time to be involved on campus. I'm here to listen to you.
Bush and Stewart: Dr. Cox should have to pay us when we turn in problem sets.
Q: Will you remain involved at the SA if not elected president? In what way?
Jain: Yes, I will remain involved. I have been involved for 3 years. I think that we are all Rice students. We have an SA identity as well as a residential college identity.
Stewart: Yes! Please elect me as parliamentarian again!
Chou: Even if I don't win, I will continue to push to lower tuition. I will also push entrepreneurship.
Hawriluk: We all have a chance of winning. But if I don't win, I will work with the administration to keep working on LPAPs and the waitlisting situation.
Q: If you were in a no-holds-barred UFC cage match with President David Leebron, what would you use to defeat him?
Bush: Defeating Leebron is inconceivable!
Chou: He loves Asians.
Hawriluk: I would use Ping as a decoy.
Jain: I would challenge him to a dance-off.
Q: Have you spoken with the administration about achieving your goals?
Chou: Yes, I've talked to some people on the administration, and my goals are achievable. I will talk to Vice President for Finance, Kathy Collins.
Hawriluk: I've talked to senators and masters about achieving my goals.
Jain: I meet with President Leebron and administrators all the time. My goals are feasible.
Stewart: The SA has been my family! I know them well.
Q: How would you as SA president support varsity athletics and help to mend the disconnect that many people feel exist?
Hawriluk: I've talked to Coach Bailiff about hosting tailgates. People shouldn't be afraid to attend events.
Jain: Through social events. There's an athletic talent show coming up. I would also bring back the varsity-student liaison position.
Bush: Free St. Arnolds on tap at every game.
Chou: We've done tailgates and rice rewards, and they haven't seemed to do anything. We need to put everyone in one room, and encourage people to meet. We could do this through events like Lunar New Year.
Q: With the benefit of hindsight, how would you have dealt with the university sale of KTRU?
Jain: Although students didn't have much of a say in it, I think we handled it pretty well. I wouldn't change much. We can't change the action. We did work with administration to get student input on allocating those funds [that came from the sale].
Bush: I would get the money from the sale, go bet in Vegas, and win the big money to buy the tower back.
Chou: The situation lacked communication with the student body. The administration needs to tell us what's happening. We need to be informed.
Hawriluk: Although I wasn't here when it happened, I would have sought as much student input as possible on making the decision.
Q: For Ben Chou: Your campaign fliers state: "No one knows Rice like an Asian." Would you please defend that statement?
Chou: Uncle Ben is brand that makes Rice. It was a play on words.
Q: How will you deal with problems caused by population increases like larger class sizes?
Bush: Staggered registration. Seniors register first, all the way down to freshmen. And then seniors can hold classes for freshmen.
Chou: With our endowment growing, we can afford to start hiring more faculty members. We can make the advertised small student to faculty ratio a reality.
Hawriluk: We need to increase course offerings. The decision to let students into class should be on the professor's shoulders, not the administration.
Jain: I would talk to students to get their opinions and work with administration to figure out how to alleviate large class sizes.
Q: What have you done and what would you do as SA president to encourage environmentally friendly and sustainable practices on campus?
Hawriluk: I would encourage recycling initiatives. I would also partner with RESET.
Jain: The approach is two-fold. First, we could create a competition — which college can save the most energy? Second, we should increase awareness of new environmentally friendly initiatives.
Stewart: It's a waste of money. Cut it all out.
Chou: I consider myself an environmentalist. I received a RESET grant last year. We may spend money now, but the money comes back in savings.
Q: For Chou — Why focus on increasing financial aid? Why not lower tuition or stop increases?
Chou: We're always going to be competing with other universities for better things. The administration won't lower tuition. But they can increase financial aid and still be competitive with other universities.
Jain: If our tuition is lower than other universities, and our cap for aid is lower than other universities, it equals out. We actually have good value as compared to other universities.
Bush: Our position is negative tuition.
Q: This year's freshman class was the biggest the university has ever seen. What do you think of this trend and how would you deal with the issues it raises?
Jain: As the population grows, we can grow as a university.
Stewart: I went to Duncan's Sensation [party]. The temperature was too damn hot. People were sweating. We need better temperature control. Pay the air conditioning bill.
Q: In recent years, the international population has been growing. What adjustments will the SA make?
Stewart: I don't have the money to travel, so I'm glad they're coming here.
Chou: International students don't have need-blind admission. They have to pay full tuition, plus plane fees.
Hawriluk: I would increase interaction with domestic and international students through more socials.
Jain: International kids don't feel integrated to college system. I would work with O-Week leaders to make them feel more comfortable.
Q: Do you have any other positions of responsibility and will you maintain those if elected president? If so, how will you ensure that you are able to dedicate the time necessary to your work as president?
Chou: I am the Chair of the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium. Yes, I will give up this position if I win. The SA is a full time commitment.
Hawriluk: I hope to maintain my position as the Baker Institute's Student Representative at Will Rice, but the SA will come first.
Jain: The SA is my life.
Bush: I'm a senior.
Q: What will you do differently from current SA President Georgia Lagoudas?
Stewart: I would do the exact same thing as Georgia.
Chou: I would increase the number of committees. We should be thinking more about where we want money to be going.
Hawriluk: I would build on Georgia's legacy. I want to increase coherence between [SA] administrations.
Q: For Jain—What are the most important issues to you if students don't respond to the SA?
Jain: I will work on academic opportunities and projects like the new language requirements.
Chou: I think we should focus more on entrepreneurship.
Hawriluk: We need to take advantage of resources already available.
Q: Which Rice tradition best embodies the university's spirit?
Stewart: NOD and Baker 13. I've never participated but I hear they're a hoot. Rice tradition is about being yourself.
Chou: The image that stuck with me was O-Week. As an advisor, I enjoyed welcoming freshmen in with open hearts and making them part of our family.
Hawriluk: People can express themselves in ways they see fit. We adapt when we need to adapt, but we maintain our traditions.
Jain: O-Week is the best embodiment of spirit. There are no class divisions. Advisors give up their time to come. Rice students take care of each other.
Hawriluk: We should elect someone who has a vested interest in the changes they are making. I will work on LPAP and waitlisting issues. The SA president should be someone who's willing to interact in small group settings but also listens to the whole student body.
Jain: Each and every student inspires me. I want to reach out to you and do things that you can see the outcome of while you're at Rice.
Stewart: Thank you for allowing us to waste your time.
Bush: Rice needs a decider. Rice needs a President Bush.
Stewart: And Rice needs a Jon Stewart to keep his ass in line.
Chou: Tuition. We need to address this issue. Financial aid is a way we can address this. We need to increase entrepreneurship. I've been working at the SA since freshmen year. Rice was ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the happiest college campus. I want to make sure that we remain the happiest campus.
Moderators: That's the end! Voting opens at 11:59 p.m. tonight and closes one week from tonight at 11:59 p.m.
To see the transcript of the 2012 SA Presidential Debate, please click here.
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