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Candidates’ Debate Displays Issues, Insanity

EUGENE – The dim lights in the LLC Performance Hall kept all but the ten people seated at the front of the room cast in darkness. From the viewers left, Curtis Haley, Nick Warren, Nick Dreyer, Sen. Kaitlyn Lange, Sinjin Carey, Katie Taylor, Ben Eckstein, Stephen Murphy, Sophia Lawhead and Cimmeron Gillespie were arrayed in a long thin line in the front of the room, ready to address the issues of the day in the 2011 ASUO Primary Candidate’s Debate.

Candidates had the opportunity to present their platforms to students and answer questions from the elections board, students, and the media.

Some platforms were less than expected. Haley and Warren used their time to encourage the ASUO to create a more difficult process for getting on the ballot. “The fact that I am speaking right now is a travesty,” said Haley.

Dreyer declined to comment on his platform, or answer any questions during the debate, with each utterance of “pass” being accompanied by an accentuating strum of a guitar from his brightly dressed herald, whom the Commentator could not identify.

Lange, speaking for her and Carey’s Students United slate, explained that their campaign was based on “tradition” and wanted to see a more unified, more sustainable student body.

Ecketein, speaking on behalf of the Ben and Katie slate (of which Taylor is also a member) focused on “making education affordable.”

Murphy discussed the need for a more welcoming, inclusive campus environment. He also, repeatedly during the event, express support for OSPIRG and for the policies of current ASUO President Amelie Rousseau.

Lawhead explained her plan to, upon election, auction the office of ASUO Vice President and promptly resign, leaving the highest bidder as ASUO President.

Gillespie stated that “Tuition is too damn high!” He went on to outline his plan to reduce tuition by eliminating the university’s administrative positions, including the university presidency.

While the event included much serious discussion of issues, there were some heated moments. Lawhead, who was usually flippant in her remarks, took a turn for the serious when a question concerning the future of the Department of Public Safety came up. Lawhead demanded a quick solution to the question and stated that “I think its absolutely ridiculous that anyone should feel threatened on this campus.” Gillespie accused her of tacitly supporting an armed police agency on campus, an assertion that Lawhead angrily denied.

It seemed clear by the events’ end who was serious about the position they sought and who was not. This view was punctuated when, in response to a question about candidates’ plans if not elected, Dreyer asked an audience member for a cigarette, then left the room, followed closely by his herald.

Candidates’ reactions to the debate were mixed. Lange said she “was disappointed that there wasn’t an actual debate between the two serious candidates. I thought it could have been more engaging.”

Carey was “a little disappointed that some of the joke candidates took up a lot of the time.”

Lawhead explained to the Commentator that she felt her performance “left them all satisfied.”

Murphy said “I’d like to think I did alright.”

When asked for comment, Dreyer told the Commentator to “fuck yourself.”

Neither Gillespie, nor a representative of Ben and Katie could be reached for comment.

Disclaimer: Dreyer, Lawhead and Murphy are employees of the Oregon Commentator. Dreyer currently serves as Art Director, Lawhead as Layout Director, and Murphy as a Contributor.

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