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The Difference Between The Candidates In USC's USG Election

Calum Hayes |
February 7, 2013 | 4:21 p.m. PST


USC's USG presidential election is next week. (Great Degree, Creative Commons)
USC's USG presidential election is next week. (Great Degree, Creative Commons)
With our (USC’s) USG elections coming up next week, it felt right to stay a little closer to home with this column and let you know for whom you should be voting as President and Vice President.

There are two sets of candidates in this election: the Matt and Alex combination, and the Kurth-Park pair. Matt Arkfeld and I are in the same fraternity. As his brother, I feel the obligation to offer him whatever support I can. However, as a Broadcast Journalism student who hopes to go into political broadcast, I believe blind affiliation to a candidate is not only wrong, it is irresponsible. We all have the responsibility to look at what each candidate has stood for in the past and plans to stand for in the future, and make our decisions accordingly.

At first glance, the platforms of the two sets of candidates seem to be centered on similar ideas. Both groups speak about increasing transparency between USG and the student body that elected them; both groups talk about implementing a short fall break for students; and both candidates speak out on increasing the security on and around campus. However, there is a major problem with the assumption that these two campaigns are mostly similar. If you visit the Kurth-Park website, they quite graciously have their campaign platform laid out for you. That platform includes the aforementioned ideas, as well as things like bringing Jamba Juice back to campus. Unfortunately, aside from Jamba Juice, that platform also includes 20 (twenty!) other campaign promises. One of the biggest problems we have with politicians in this nation is that they rarely do what they say they will. I am sure Kurth-Park are well intentioned and would love to do all 21 things they have promised the student body they will. Unfortunately for them, they suffer because of the mistakes of others. Like with a first basemen whose head has tripled in size and who has started blasting homeruns, my BS detector comes on whenever a politician promises too much.

If we go over to Matt and Alex’s website we see that they have a simple eight-point plan for the next year. Aside from the shared ideas they have with Kurth-Park, they have things like expanding tuition to cover 20 units instead of 18 for the rather ambitious students. Matt and Alex have made a point to emphasize their campaign slogan, “Think Different.” The most important part of that slogan is that it isn’t just a slogan. Think Different is something that Matt and Alex hope becomes a campus-wide movement. It is a movement to increasingly involve us students in decision making; it is a movement to take the walls down from around campus – walls that never should have gone up – something they mentioned at last night’s debate.

Last night’s debate was both lively and offered a glimpse into each candidate’s thinking. Arkfeld came out in opposition of the walls USC has put up in response to the shooting on campus last semester, saying it isolates us from the community. While Kurth never came out in favor of the walls, he did clearly oppose Arkfeld’s position. At the debate, Arkfeld spoke up about not needing to spend as much as USG does on the USG retreat (although I don’t remember the exact number, I do remember that it was mind-boggling) while Kurth said that the retreat is a boon to USG. I don’t doubt that the retreat is a good thing, but as a student of this university, I don’t need my tuition going to any sort of excess when it comes to those kinds of things.

If we look at the candidates in terms of their experience in USG, Mr. Kurth has the upper hand. He has spent three years in USG (a feat to be applauded), while Mr. Arkfeld has spent only this past year in USG. Mr. Arkfeld made it clear at last night’s debate that he doesn’t consider this a disadvantage. Mr. Arkfeld supports overhauling how USG runs, as he thinks it is neither efficient nor in touch with the student body. Mr. Arkfeld stressed how active he has been in communicating with the student body in his year with USG, and Mr. Kurth emphasized that he wants to let students know how powerful their voices truly are in bringing about change, while also contending that USG didn’t particularly need to change.

At one point in the debate, the Vice Presidential candidates had the opportunity to ask the other Presidential candidate questions. It was at this point that we reached the most important moment of the evening. Alex Cascante has been in charge of repaving the 28th Street sidewalks. It was originally his idea, and is now close to being set in motion because of him. It is also an idea the Kurth-Park ticket is championing as one of their main ideas. When Kurth was asked by Cascante why he was trying to take credit for something that was, in fact, Alex’s idea, Kurth responded with some variation of: it doesn’t matter who gets credit, as long as it gets done. To which I ask, then why is Kurth trying to take credit for it?

I am sure that all candidates in this race are well intentioned and believe they can improve undergraduate life at USC. I am unsure, though, how many of their 21 (seriously, twenty-one!) campaign promises Kurth and Park can actually fulfill, or even how many of them are actually their ideas in the first place. I have already stated my connection to one of the candidates, but I hope this hasn’t prevented you from seeing what seem to be obvious differences. If Kurth and Park are the candidates for you, I respect that decision. I however, I will be Thinking Different this election. Jamba Juice just isn’t that important to me.


Reach Contributor Calum Hayes here; follow him here.



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