This quarter’s ASUCD elections produced their usual crop of quality senate and executive candidates. Unfortunately, they also produced unruly and disruptive crowds at the two debates in the ASUCD Coffee House. Slate supporters, most notably LEAD supporters, are excessively loud and raucous at such functions on a consistent basis. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. The debates hosted in the Coho are organized by the ASUCD Elections Committee to be an open, intellectual exchange and discussion of ideas. They are intended to give students at large a chance to hear and consider the various platform goals of the senate and executive candidates. By screaming and cheering whenever their candidates are about to begin speaking or when they finish, slate supporters create a variety of problems. Hooting, hollering and stamping one‘s feet tend to detract from such an atmosphere. It also creates an unfairly hostile atmosphere for any independent candidates or candidates of opposing slates.
Those who wish to attend the debates would do well to remember that debates are discussions of ideas in which pros and cons are advanced by the participants. A rally is a large gathering of people attempting to drum up enthusiasm for something. To be clear, it is important to raise excitement about debates; more students should attend. Doing it at the debate, however, is inappropriate. In addition, such behavior inhibits the ability of the audience, the moderators and the other members of the debate from hearing what the current candidate is saying. This interrupts the flow of responses and questions. It also needlessly lengthens the debate as moderators have to repeat their questions and candidates have to repeat their responses.
Such actions are especially curious because, presumably, the slate supporters want to have undecided voters vote for their candidates. How are their candidates supposed to sway the minds of students if their words are completely inaudible? Such behavior flies in the face of outreach attempts. Why should students be motivated to join an organization where they’ll be shouted at if they disagree?
Audience reaction is inevitable and expected. Positive reaction could be reasonably restrained to quiet applause. Negative reactions are rude and unnecessary and reflect poorly on the audience as a whole. This is not meant to suggest that LEAD supporters are the sole practitioners of this shoddy debate behavior; theirs is simply more noticeable given the dearth of established parties this quarter. LEAD regularly produces quality candidates with good ideas and noble ambitions on how they can improve the lives of their fellow students. It would be nice to be able to hear them.