The student group Campus and Community United has compiled a report card on some of the Undergraduate Student Government candidates to help student voters evaluate their platforms, though some candidates have taken issue with the grades.
The report cards of all the presidential candidates and nine of the 15 senatorial candidates were posted along with explanations on the Campus and Community United Facebook page before voting started Tuesday, according to Jonathan Truong, the CCU’s coalition coordinator.
The report card grades the candidates in four areas: commitment to the Master Plan Student Voice Committee, affordable student housing, sustainability and their proposed relationship with the neighborhood.
Presidential candidates were graded based on interviews with Nicholas Brown, CCU’s administrative coordinator. Senatorial candidates’ grades were based on their responses to a CCU survey. Not all the senatorial candidates responded.
Brown said the interviews were useful both in gathering information and in explaining CCU’s agenda to potential USG leaders.
“Now we have this connection with these people who are going to be in charge of the student side of running USC,” Brown said. “Now they know our goals and they’ve been completely onboard.”
CCU hopes the report card will also educate voters on what the group thinks are important issues.
“The survey sparks more interest in the issues,” Truong said. “That’s primarily how we want to change voters minds.”
In his evaluations of the presidential candidates, Brown said he was looking for enthusiasm and passion in addition to interests that agreed with those of the CCU.
Presidential candidates’ grades ranged from B+ to A.
“Everyone has pretty great scores,” Truong said. “It’s a good sign because it shows how capable all of the candidates are.”
Some candidates, however, disagreed with how they were graded.
“CCU is free to grade however they want,” said Andrew Matson, a presidential candidate whose ticket received a B+ overall. “I’ll disagree with the grade though. I think my plans to improve community relations are strong, and some of the descriptions of the candidates might be inaccurate or possibly even unfair.”
Matson said he was concerned because there seemed to be no transparency in the grading system. He was quick to note, however, that he still agrees with CCU’s goals, even if he disagrees with its grades.
Candidates who fared better had different opinions, however.
Jonathan Munoz-Proulx, a presidential candidate whose ticket received an A-, said he thought the grading criteria were just.
“I just quickly looked it over, but I think it was very fair,” he said. “I was thrilled to see that everyone had done very well in the grading process.”
CCU is particularly concerned about the long-term implications of the Master Plan, Brown said, and candidates who had not considered long-term effects tended to score lower on the report card. He added that he hopes the survey and interviews put the ideas into the candidates’ heads and that he wants whoever is elected to advocate for student input.
“It’s a $400-million plan,” Brown said. “We want students to have some say in what’s going on.”
CCU had originally decided to grade the candidates so that the group could choose one to back. After interviewing a number of the presidential and senatorial candidates, however, the group changed its mind.
“We’re not endorsing a single candidate,” Brown said. “[The candidates] are all passionate about the same things, and they’re qualified.”
Instead, Brown said that the report highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each of the candidates.
Some students said they will look at the report card before they cast their vote.
Ben Siskin, an undeclared sophomore, said he is interested in CCU’s analysis.
“I’m the type of person who’s influenced a lot by outside information,” he said. “I like to see what other people think.”
Others, however, said outside input does not mean much.
“If I know the person personally, I’ll vote for them,” said Yoni Moore, an undeclared freshman. “That has a bigger impact than what someone else says.”
CCU hopes the 700 members of the CCU’s Facebook group will take the report cards into consideration.
“There’s always concerns that elections like this are sort of a popularity contest,” said Daniel Wu, CCU’s faculty and projects coordinator. “But I really feel like USG can make a huge impact on partnerships and community development with this. We make sure the candidates have a real commitments toward USG.”