ASG candidates square off in campaign debate


The three tickets for Allegheny Student Government presidential and vice presidential elections debate in the campus center lobby on Feb. 22, 2016. The candidates were orginally Amy Currul, ’17 and David Odusanya, ’18, Aubri Caslin, ’17, and Andrew Hopf, ’17, and Tess Bracken, ’17, and Sofia Kaufman, ’17. Hopf and Caslin have since been removed from the ballot.

The six 2016-17 candidates for Allegheny Student Government president and vice president met to debate in the campus center lobby on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. Among the issues discussed were the future of off-campus housing, student retention and working with administration.

The ASG election opened on Thursday, Feb. 25. The last day to vote will be Friday, Feb. 26.

The candidates are running on three separate presidential and vice presidential tickets. Current ASG Vice President Tess Bracken,’17, is running for president with current ASG Chief of Staff Sofia Kaufman,’17, as her running mate.

ASG senators Amy Currul, ’17, and David Odusanya, ’18, will also be on the ballot. The third was comprised of former ASG senator Andrew Hopf, ’17, and current ASG director of communications and press, Aubri Caslin, ’17. Caslin and Hopf have since be removed from the ballot, following an investigation into their campaign practices.

All the candidates who participated in the debate have served on ASG in some capacity. However, concerns were raised regarding the current and prior service of the Hopf and Caslin ticket.

ASG senator Tyler Kowalski, ’16, who identified himself as a member of the rules committee, raised concerns about the events that led to Hopf’s impeachment as a sophomore and concerns surrounding Caslin’s current job performance, during the question section of the debate. He said many within ASG feel she has been less than effective in her current position.

Hopf said he was glad to have a chance to speak to concerns regarding his impeachment and said he felt the system within ASG was at fault.

“Sophomore year I had to attend a funeral and during another meeting I had a fever of 103. Before I was given a chance to explain either of these absences, I was called in and unceremoniously let go,” Hopf said.

Hopf admitted that he was bitter with the organization following his impeachment, but now feels he is ready to rejoin.

“I have grown and matured since then and I understand the uniqueness and responsibility and not only the power that ASG has, but the potential for power, which it does not wield yet, and I thoroughly believe that I am the candidate to best bring out that power and use it to fully represent students to all of our advantage,” Hopf said.

Caslin also addressed concerns about her attendance record, saying that she feels these claims to be false. She said she has rarely missed meetings because of other commitments.

“The only times I’ve missed is when I have an athletic responsibility,” Caslin said.

Caslin also dismissed claims that she has not done her job as director of communications and press. She said she feels these claims are due to a lack of communication of what she is expected to do within her position.

A central issue of the debate discussed by all three tickets was the issue of ASG’s relationship with college administration under new ASG executives.

Hopf said that he feels a new direction needs to be taken, and that ASG has been too compliant with the college administration, something he hopes to see change as president.

“I’m not going to let them walk all over us like they have in the past,” Hopf said.

Hopf also questioned if working with administration is even a viable strategy at Allegheny.

“I don’t think it’s possible to work with the administration…so I will do my best to work against the administration,” Hopf said.

Bracken and Kaufman took a different approach, emphasizing their already existing relationship with administration while making it clear they have no intention of letting them dictate policy.

We will be the voice of the students and we have been the voice of the students.

— Sofia Kaufman

“Although I have a decent relationship with them, I’m not afraid to tell them what I think,” Bracken said.

Kaufman clarified that their focus, however, will be on student needs.

“We will be the voice of the students and we have been the voice of the students,” Kaufman said.

Bracken pointed to her work with her campus safety ad hoc committee, which has already lead to improved safety measures on North Main Street as proof that she can effectively work with campus administration. The committee hopes to have a new crosswalk installed in front of Caflisch Hall soon.

Currul and Odusanya said they also hope to work with the administration to implement change on campus.

“We are here to serve the student body, not to be the puppet master of the administration,” Odusanya said.

Currul said her priority as president would be to encourage others within ASG to act as she has as a senator. She pointed to her work in passing a resolution in support of gender neutral bathrooms last year as an example of this initiative.

“The role of president and vice president is to inspire and encourage and sort of set the tone of ASG and to be leaders,” Currul said.

Currul and Odusanya said a major part of their administration would be devoted to issues of diversity, and making students on campus feel welcome. Bracken and Kaufman also supported diversity and student retention on campus, and said they would create a new position on ASG with the goal of making first-year students feel more welcome on campus.

Hopf and Caslin also said they would support diversity initiatives. Hopf said that he sees specifically a problem with diversity within the counseling center at Allegheny. He said he feels firing certain counselors may be necessary in order to secure this change, and he has no problem with this course of action.

While all the candidates were in favor of increasing diversity on campus, Hopf was the only one who felt terminating certain counselors was the way to go about it.

The candidates all opposed the recent changes to the housing agreement that will make it impossible for upperclassmen to live off-campus.

“Off-campus housing is a viable option that we want to see come back,” Currul said.

Bracken said the best way to get off-campus housing back is to keep students at Allegheny, which she said is part of why her administration would focus so much effort on programs to promote retention.

Kaufman agreed that focusing on retention will be a priority.

“While we can’t help admissions we can implement programs to keep students here,” Kaufman said.