January 31, 2012
Filed under News
In a Student Senate presidential-campaign season developing earlier than its predecessors, Senator Christian Woo announced his candidacy this week as incumbent president Cliff Maloney considered a second term.
Woo, a second-year senator serving as parliamentarian, said he and running mate Alexis Prusick hope to recover a sense of pride and involvement among Pitt-Johnstown students.
“I want to see more participation. I want a sense of excitement,” Prusick said. “It’s gonna be a challenge.”
Still in its formative stage, the campaign does not yet have a series of policy points for voters to rally around, Woo said. The candidates said they intend to form a more concrete platform after consulting students.
“Our campaign is gonna be a lot of meeting people,” Woo said. “Everyone wants to see a change.”
In a Woo presidency, he said, senate executives would carry on the current practice of student-administrator meetings, allowing officers to take recommendations directly to University President Jem Spectar.
“It’s all a matter of persistence,” he said. “We’ll go to them as frequently as we possibly can.”
There are no recurring senate debates for students to pick sides on, Woo said – senators have been involved in universally supported programs like residential Wi-Fi and parking-lot expansion – so low turnout could be a problem once again
To ensure a solid voting bloc, Woo and Prusick said they will likely target an old senate standby: the Greek community, of which both are members.
“We’re going to play to our strengths,” said Woo, a Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity member, “and get as many of our brothers and our sisters as we can to vote for us.”
Prusick serves as president of the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority.
While Woo said that his campaigning will go beyond the Greek community, it represents a continuation of a Pitt-Johnstown political tradition. A Sigma Tau Gamma member has served as senate president three of the past four academic years.
Before that, a member served as vice president. Last year, Sigma Tau Gamma member Mike Cerveris ran unsuccessfully against Maloney.
Woo trained under now-graduated senator and Sigma Tau Gamma member Dave Komoroski, and cited former presidents Jeff Burtner and Jake Shirk – also members – as political models.
The candidates said their experience would be their best asset for voters to judge: Woo held a series of executive positions in his fraternity, including public-relations officer. Prusick oversees the senate’s Recreation and Publicity Committee.
Incumbent President Cliff Maloney has not yet announced a second-term campaign, saying he’s more interested in day-to-day senate business until the March candidacy deadline approaches.
“There’s still plenty of time,” he said. “I’m thinking about it – it’s just not on top of my plate right now.”
Maloney illustrated several alternative scenarios, should he choose not to run: his vice president, Marcus McGuire, could seek a higher post; or Woo could win unopposed, appointing Maloney to an advisory role.
“I would kinda be his right-hand man,” he said.
Despite an unclear campaign situation, Maloney spoke in a candidate’s terms, describing recent achievements and upcoming senate goals in detail.
He hailed the senate’s success in pushing for student Wi-Fi.
“I asked, they ordered, we had it in,” he said and promised to secure access for the remainder of campus.
Maloney said a plan to recycle unused student-activities money is in progress as well.
“There’s a lot that could happen,” he said, noting that more senators may announce candidacies before March.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more coming in.”
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