Candidates debate fundamental difference

Tuesday’s Student Alumni Association debate revealed a fundamental difference in the philosophies of the two parties, which may end up making or breaking their campaign efforts.

The distinction of opinion between the Grassroots and RE: parties seems to be whether or not a “niche,” as Grassroots describes it, is something the future Associated Students of the University of Utah officers should endeavor to create for every student.

“It’s all about the people…They need to have a place where they have a sense of belonging,” said Grassroots vice-presidential candidate Bobby Harrington.

“We’re all Utes.”

RE: Party vice presidential candidate Ali Hasnain, a former news editor for The Daily Utah Chronicle, doesn’t see eye-to-eye with that statement.

“Frankly speaking, we are on a commuter campus. Not everyone has the ability to find a niche [or] the capacity to get involved,” Hasnain said.

Hasnain’s counterpart, Chris Carlston, added that he felt people knew who they were and that it wasn’t necessary to “baby” them into getting involved on campus.

In response, Grassroots presidential candidate Alex Lowe told a personal story about being “in the corner” all by himself at a house on Greek Row during Rush Week. He argued that it’s human nature for people to want to feel like they belong.

“Students want to get involved, they just need that help. That’s what makes the difference-we’re going after them,” Lowe said.

The Grassroots Party argued that its “specific and practical approach” to ensuring that all students one way or another find a “sense of belonging” is what sets it apart.

However, the RE: Party said it was its own ability to come together and represent, despite differences in religion, culture and ethnicity.

“We are different folks…we feel that is so important…to bridge the cultural gaps. We are the most experienced and valuable candidates because of it,” Carlston said.

Carlston is a white, Latter day Saint returned missionary.

Hasnain is a practicing Muslim from India.

Their senior class presidential candidate, Sara Hogan, was raised by interracial parents with Baptist and LDS beliefs.

In discussing what separates them from their opponents, candidates have kept insults to a minimum, throwing more compliments than mud.

They exchange friendly handshakes and comments after every debate.

Both sides agree it has been a clean race.

Candidates also had the chance to disclose how they felt about some personal aspects of their lives, which included their thoughts on campus romance.

Besides catching up on some sleep lost due to campaigning, Lowe will “hopefully hang out with a female” during spring break.

Harrington divulged that his quest for romance was one of the big motivators for initially getting involved on campus and confessed that he cried during “Seabiscuit.”

Hasnain’s comment on campus romance:

“Oh man, it’s hard.”

Grassroots senior class presidential candidate Jessica Rogers equates her campaigning with the “Eye of the Tiger” song, Carlston loves Bollywood movies and Hogan has a closet obsession with Elton John.

At the end of the debate, the moderator challenged the six candidates’ knowledge of the school song.

Though they were off-key throughout their performances, all of them knew almost every word.

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