A Direct Response
This serves as a direct response to Nathan Gawronsky’s article ‘Thrusting Your Political Values,’ in volume 104 issue 5 of The Corsair. Unfortunately, it seems as though many of the facts about myself and the Associated Students Board of Directors have been skewed to achieve a demeaning appearance of our student government. This was apparent in reading the article ‘Thrusting Your Political Values,’ where Mr. Gawronsky not only bashes the third party presidential candidate [Jill Stein], but also accuses the board and myself of acts that are not true. It is time to hear both sides of the story.
Firstly, I must reveal the situation leading up to Stein coming to our college, which Mr. Gawronsky never properly researched. Harrison Wills, just as most students on campus, is a member of the Associated Students, which is accessible by being enrolled at Santa Monica College and paying the $19.50 fee. Wills, just as any AS member can do, came to me with the intention of reserving a room to allow for the Green Party Presidential Candidate, Stein to speak on campus.
I never even spoke with Stein herself about coming, but I thought it was a good idea to have a presidential candidate, regardless of what party they are from, to speak on campus. I wrote a proposal, without a dime of AS funding, to reserve the Cayton Center and allow Stein a brief few hours to speak. Just as I said when asked by Andy Riesmeyer, (the news editor of The Corsair) I am open to having any presidential candidate coming, but I do not plan on reaching out to anybody in particular.
This means I didn’t plan on reaching out to all the presidential candidates, and I never did, not even Stein. Furthermore giving a candidate a room to speak is not an endorsement, it is simply allowing somebody the ability to speak on campus. It should also be noted than any AS member can reserve a room for a speaker. Believe me, I would love to host a presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney, but it would take
half of my term in office to achieve that, with only the small possibility that they actually come. This is why I have always said I didn’t plan on reaching out to any candidates.
When I foreshadowed that The Corsair would skew much of the information, I sent both presidential candidates Obama and Romney formal requests to speak at our college. This is something that was not even done for Stein.
To answer Nathan’s first question, “How does Stein coming to speak at Santa Monica College help the mission of our college?” I will start by addressing this in a more specific document, the AS constitution. Stated in Article I, Section II of the constitution “We promote creativity, collaboration and the free exchange of ideas.” The key phrase is ‘free’ exchange of ideas. The idea of allowing Stein, via a member of the Associated Students, reminded me how critical it is that students open their eyes to all presidential candidates, especially ones that much of the public are unaware of.
It was a shame to see Mr. Gawronsky use names like “fringe candidate” to describe Stein. Talk about thrusting your political values. The bottom line is that there are reasons why these third party candidates seem as though they have no chance of winning. There is no proportional representation, and we have a private presidential debate commission that excludes alternate candidates. This is evidenced by Gary Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate’s lawsuit against the commission. They aren’t even allowed to speak. It is no wonder why nobody takes the third party candidates seriously.
The fact is that I am actually the only registered Green Party member on our board. So to accuse the AS Board of being a ‘Green Party-affiliated AS leadership’ is simply false. And since when is allowing somebody a room to speak frowned upon? We are supposed to live in a democracy where all sides are allowed to speak, especially those who are suppressed. I am an advocate for all sides of the political spectrum to be heard. If any students have affiliation with a certain party, I urge you to write a proposal, and the AS can help your candidate speak.