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The five Class of 2011 presidential candidates squared off on the first floor of the Student Center for the first-ever Freshman Class Council Presidential Debate on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The debate was held the evening before online voting opened for both 2011 Class Council and Undergraduate Association Senate elections. Candidate platforms were released the same night, and late petitions for open seats as of the Sept. 26 deadline were accepted until yesterday at 5 p.m. (See tables on page for full list of candidates.)

The debate, co-sponsored by The Tech and UA, was moderated by Tech Chairman Michael McGraw-Herdeg ’08. He first asked the candidates how they would allocate the Class of 2011 budget of approximately $20,000.

Grant D. Tomassi ’11 emphasized the need for a place where students can purchase food 24 hours a day, while Christina R. Johnson ’11 suggested monthly class dinners. “We all love free food,” she said. Daniel C. Li ’11 stressed the need for “communications,” such as a class bulletin board and Web site where students can find study groups. Both Kevin A. Rustagi ’11 and Daniel Chen ’11 suggested Web sites where students may find problem set solutions, study group listings, and other useful information.

McGraw-Herdeg then raised the topic of campus division, noting that all five candidates reside on west campus. Rustagi responded that he found it “a little interesting that we’re all technically from the west side of campus, but I don’t think that should stop us from listening to all the members of the Class of 2011.” The other candidates generally agreed, saying that there were many avenues of communication between the east and west sides of campus. “It’s easy to provide a forum … but whether or not [east campus] opt[s] to use that voice is the question,” Li said.

The moderator session closed with a discussion on the most important goal each candidate would like to accomplish. Johnson suggested a midnight freeze-tag study break on Brigg’s Field, complete with glowsticks, while Chen said, “I want all of us to be able to organize a prank, a big one, and for [the entire class] to get involved.”

When the debate progressed to cross-examination, Johnson asked Li what characteristic separates him from other candidates. Li answered, “I have the most ideas, and I’m most willing to carry them out.” Candidates also asked each other about prior leadership experience and ideas for possible class community service projects.

A brief question and answer session with the audience and closing statements concluded the debate. Approximately 25 freshmen attended, and many passersby stopped and watched while helping themselves to free pizza.

“I thought that for the first time holding a freshman class council debate, it went very well,” UA President Martin F. Holmes ’08 said. “There were some fluffy moments, which you would expect in any debate, but in general, I thought most of the candidates had thought about their platforms and presented themselves well.”

Platforms released late Sunday

Candidate names and platforms were not released on the UA Elections Web site until Sunday night to encourage all candidates, even those running uncontested, to campaign, Election Commissioner JiangWei (Alexis) Zhu ’08 said. Zhu said she thinks the tactic worked, pointing to the campaigns of Paul F. Baranay ’11 and Gary G. Cao ’11, who are running uncontested for the two Simmons Hall UA Senate seats.

Releasing the names and platforms late increases awareness among dormitory residents about their UA Senate candidates, allowing them time to acquaint themselves with the candidates, Zhu said.

Late petitions for seats open as of Sept. 26 were accepted until 5 p.m. yesterday, except in the case of Spencer J. Currie ’11, Class of 2011 treasurer candidate. Although the treasurer position did not have open seats after the Sept. 26 deadline, UA Election Commission and Judicial Review Board granted Currie an extension because of extenuating circumstances. He had undergone an operation on his right hand around petitioning time, requiring a week-long recovery period that ended right before the Sept. 26 deadline.

Two open seats remain for Senate elections, one each for Bexley Hall and Random Hall. Students can still win the positions as write-in candidates, said Zhu, who encouraged students from Bexley Hall and Random Hall to run as write-ins. There are no open seats for Class of 2011 Class Council elections, but write-in campaigns are still possible.

“I’m very excited for this year, and I think that there are very talented people running,” Zhu said. Online voting closes Thursday. Paper voting is available in Lobby 10 on Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and election results will be posted at midnight on Oct. 6.