Gorman And Fruin Shine During SGA Debate Despite Personal Questions

On the left is the debate moderator WFCS Radio Station Manager Anna Battye, speaking with SGA candidates during the Executive Board debate. Photo Credit: Analisa Knovak

by Analisa Novak

Despite being singled out for their sexuality, Senator Amanda Gorman and Senator Kassandra Fruin were able to remain calm and collected during the Student Government Association Executive Board debates last week.

The debate, that was moderated by WFCS Radio Station Manager Anna Battye, was filled with non-traditional debate questions, much to the dismay of the majority of the senators who were in attendance.

Personal questions about the relationship between running mates Treasurer Brendan Kruh and Senator Fruin kicked off the SGA e-board debate.

Citing his close relationship with both his running mates, Kruh explained his romantic relationship with Fruin would always remain separate when it comes to the senate. “Moving forward I feel like it would only help to benefit the student body rather than hinder it,” Kruh said.

Overall, Kruh said he would actively work to promote the CCSU story if elected and to highlight the accomplishments each individual brings to the campus. Kruh would also be proactive so each student feels comfortable on campus, no matter what their background or viewpoints are.

Presidential candidate Victor Constanza, the only non-SGA member running, was quickly questioned about his lack of knowledge of the Board of Regents and the inner workings of student government.

Although Constanza could not answer majority of the questions, he reassured the audience that if elected he will spend the summer reading and studying the rules and regulations.

“I am representing people, if I do get elected I do have some time to review all these bylaws and Roberts Rules,” Constanza said.

Constanza wants to focus on giving back to the community and helping clubs and SGA co-sponsor events to benefit residents of surrounding towns.

Fellow presidential candidate Gabriella Bierwirth came to the defense of her opponent, stating that even the most veteran senators occasionally brush up on senate rules.

“Even if you have been doing this for years, not everyone is a 100 percent on every single rule. People who have been elected to their position, no matter what position it has been, had often had to check the bylaws during a debate,” Bierwirth said.

Bierwirth’s campaign is focused on bringing attention to communities, clubs and students. She hopes to unite multiple clubs and put together bigger events on campus and wants SGA to volunteer more within the community.

Gorman, who was accused of being soft spoken, was asked how she intended to command a room full of debating senators.

Gorman, chair of the Student Life committee, said her experience in delegating and listening to every particular person will benefit her if elected.

“I really don’t think it will be an issue, in fact it’s actually something I am really good at,” Gorman said.

Experience with distributing scholarships, Gorman hopes to increase them to help students who pay the student activity fee, but can not be on campus to participate in clubs and activities.

“Everyone deserves to benefit from the money they put into the school and we need to make sure that happens,” Gorman said.

The audience, consisting of mostly current SGA senators, immediately were uncomfortable with the moderator’s questioning style, often shaking their head and gasping at the questions.

At one point an audience member asked the candidates if they would feel more comfortable if the moderator read the questions provided by the SGA public affair senators. The moderator responded back saying, “ I don’t want to use just the questions that you prepared.”

The audience member quickly snapped back at the moderator saying that the question wasn’t being asked to her, but to the candidates.

After the confrontation, the moderator reluctantly agreed to use both the questions provided. “I will work them both in, but I don’t think questions about what would you do if you had a magic wand, work for this,” the moderator said.

After the presidential debates, the three vice presidential candidates took center stage for questioning. All three candidates had very different platforms on why they wanted to be elected.

Fruin, said that she understood the direction the student government needed to go, to move this campus forward.

Senator Marissa Cusano centered her platform on building communications between clubs and the SGA, and working on improving the relationship between students and the senate.

Senator Jailene Nazario said her outgoing personality would help educate students on campus on what student government can do for them.

If elected, Fruin said that she would work to heal issues internally and by doing so, it would reflect externally onto the campus. She wanted to make more seats available on the senate to students and to make more standing committee on the SGA.

Fruin was also called out on the lack of transparency her committee has; as no public minutes of the meetings can be found online.

The moderator brought up how the entire public affairs committee, in which Fruin is the head, failed to promote the upcoming elections. Fruin said she admits to her failures and takes full responsibility of the lack of promotion.

“I took over PA when it was crumbling,” Fruin said in reference to last falls Good Neighbor Campaign.  “Part of coming into this position, I am very good at adapting to new things and adjusting, so I was able to do that with Public Affairs.”

Cusano, who has a personal relationship with Treasurer candidate and current Vice President Chris Cappiello, also claimed she will separate the two relationships if elected.

“My personal life is my personal life and that needs to stay personal and far away. When it comes to senate, I am here to do a job and I am going to do my job,” Cusano said, “we are there to work.”

Nazario, who has a background in fiancee, was asked why she wasn’t running for Treasurer instead. Nazario said she wants to challenge herself with a new position.  “I just have so much on my mind than just being treasurer, I want to branch out more, I want to learn more about myself,” Nazario said.

This year, four candidates are in the running for treasurer including current vice president Chris Capiello and fellow senators Thomas Mitchell, Damar Jarrett and Estefania Maya. All four candidates come from extremely different backgrounds.

Cappiello, who has been vice president for the last year wants to increase club funding and make it easier for clubs to get more money.

Mitchell, a finance major, said he wants to create a transparent club funding process.

Jarrett had a similar platform, emphasizing transparency is key and Maya said that she wanted to ensure that clubs are comfortable coming to SGA for everything that they will need.

With an upcoming budget increase, candidates were asked why they are ready to handle the potential of hundreds of thousands of dollars that would come into their hands.

Mitchell said his experience managing a seafood restaurant, makes him fiscally responsible to handle any sort of budget.

Cappiello said, his previous two years on finance committee and close relationship with past and present treasures, has given him the knowledge.

Jarrett said he wanted to give clubs more money and allow them to use it to the full capability.

Maya, who has also been on the finance committee, said she wants to welcome everyone to voice their opinions without the fear of being denied funds.

During the open floor part of the debate, an audience member singled out  both Fruin and Gorman to ask how as bi-sexual women, they will represent the LGBQT community.

Both canidates exhibited poise, when put on the spot. In particular Gorman, who had never reveled to most her sexual orientation was taken back by the question.

“I was a little surprised by this, I am not really out to a lot of people, but surprise,” Gorman said.

Fruin commended Gorman on her bravery during this instance and said she will try to have a more inclusive and safe campus for all.

Last year more than 650 people voted during the e-board debates. Election results will be released by next week and voting ends March 30. To vote, you can go to the Link at ccsu.collegiatelink.net.