Little Disagreement in Student Council Debate

By Maxime Garcia Diaz and Sofía González Gil

— “I’m sorry to disappoint but I have to agree with them,” said Sofija Stefanovic of Untitled Remastered (UR). Shortly after, Fatiya Munkaila of Party Party (PP) echoed this: “Unfortunately for everyone that has come to see a fight, I think I’m going to have to agree again.” During the Tuesday lunch break, this year’s Elections Debate saw the two parties running for the 2016-2017 AUC Student Council (AUCSC) face each other in a discussion marked by agreement across the board. Unlike the previous debate, which garnered almost a hundred attendees, this year the audience numbered less than fifty people. The debate was hosted by the current AUCSC and moderated by co-chair Tanushree Kaushal.

Competing for student votes this year is Party Party with six candidates, and Untitled Remastered with eleven candidates. Each party was represented by two candidates in the debate, who addressed topics such as a re-evaluation of the AUC curriculum, or strategies to increase the student voice through different platforms. The debate included a discussion structured around statements offered by Kaushal, which the candidates were asked to give their views on.

The statement “AUC believes it might be compromising quality if it brings down the number of assignments and makes the workload more manageable” started a discussion about the workload, an issue that students have voiced dissatisfaction about. “A great problem with this statement is that it’s so quantitative,” said Sofija Stefanovic from UR in response. “The biggest problem with this approach is actually trying to measure quality by how many assignments you’re handing in,” she said.

Both parties emphasized the importance of quality over quantity in terms of workload: Matilda Medard from PP expressed disappointment with the level of work expected. “I think that’s where also students come in and complain about this, because they have so much work, and it’s not at all work that satisfies their craving for learning, or for growing in their academic career,” she said.

Another statement Kaushal offered the candidates was, “Every interest and opinion can never be fully represented, so that of the largest majority concerning an issue should find representation in the Student Council.” In response, Sarah Stapel of UR stressed the importance of the Focus Groups. “Of course it is very idealistic, but I think it’s also very pessimistic to think that we can never reach a consensus,” she said. “I think if we start thinking that we can never create a consensus, it becomes pointless.”

PP’s Munkaila suggested dealing with this issue on a case-by-case basis, saying, “We find it difficult to give a yes or no answer to something that is very nuanced and very case-based.”

Medard cited the example of the workload, which a Facebook poll showed most students have no problem with. “I don’t think that, in this case, I agree with the majority,” she said. “But I think what matters ultimately is understanding why I disagree and why these people feel like the workload is appropriate, and taking that into consideration.”

“We really do agree on the main changes we would introduce, that’s why it comes down to who was explicit about which point and the ways of achieving changes,” Stefanovic told The Herring.

This agreement between parties is welcomed by students such as Carolina Calgaro, second-year humanities major, who said, “I find it promising that both parties have similar ideas, but with different approaches. PP and UR complement each other in that way and probably will have a positive and cooperative outcome once the SC is elected.”

Today marks the end of the campaign week and the last day of the voting period. Students can cast their votes for the AUC Student Council 2016-2017 at the reception desk, until 17:00. For a reminder of the election process, see here.

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