Updated: March 27, 2018 at 2:03 a.m.
The Hatchet’s editorial board decided to rescind our endorsement of Brady Forrest after an anti-Semitic Facebook post he originally published in 2014 surfaced online the night before voting. We are keeping this editorial on our website for readers to read our opinion on his opponent.
This year, one Student Association executive vice presidential candidate clearly stood out.
Although both candidates are passionate about pushing the SA forward in the coming academic year, The Hatchet’s editorial board endorses Brady Forrest for EVP.
Forrest, a fourth-year graduate student, has a platform of tangible goals that can be met within his term. From his experience in the senate serving as G-At-Large and senate pro tempore, Forrest has the necessary knowledge and understanding of the University to have productive meetings with administrators as well as to aid the SA president. Throughout his hearing, Forrest was grounded while fielding questions on the research he had done for his campaign.
The platform that Forrest assembled was small and succinct at just over two pages, but he was able to explain each point in detail. This is seen in his pilot programs for free or reduced prices for student space, recycled paper in WEPA printers and securing a free 18th credit for students.
Forrest’s standout goal is his vision for implementing the free 18th credit. Although including an 18th credit in the tuition for all students is on the platforms of presidential candidate Ashley Le, fellow executive vice presidential candidate Ojani Walthrust and past SA candidates, Forrest’s plan is the most realistic because of his plan on phasing in the 18th credit for the Elliott School of International Affairs students first. He understands that simply asking for change isn’t possible. Rather, administrators must be convinced that a program can work by seeing it for themselves through a pilot program. As the 18th credit is a referendum this year, and will likely be voted in favor, Forrest is ready to work with administrators on making this goal a reality as soon as possible.
The graduate senator is also willing to adjust his plans with either presidential candidate. Forrest is prepared to work alongside Le in implementing the 18th credit, which is also one of her larger platform points. But he is also ready to spearhead the project if presidential candidate Imani Ross – who didn’t put the point on her platform – were to be elected.
Although Forrest is the most qualified, he is not without weaknesses. Forrest’s platform focuses on pushing graduate students to use GWorld to have access to meal deals and create revenue for the University. An increase in revenue will create funds that Forrest hopes can be used to better finance the student body. But when asked, Forrest said he doesn’t use GWorld. This inadvertently proves why this point isn’t feasible. He admits that he wasn’t aware of meal deals until last semester, which raises concern because Forrest was involved in the SA – which has emphasized food insecurity and affordability – before and during its creation.
It’s a benefit that Forrest represents graduate students, who make up about 60 percent of the student body but aren’t as represented in the SA due to few graduate senators. But this is both a pro and a con for Forrest. He focused heavily on the graduate student experience and less on undergraduates in his hearing. Moving forward, if elected EVP, he will represent the entire student body and should view the undergraduate and graduate student experiences as equally important.
Neither EVP candidate is flawless. When we asked the candidates about their thoughts on the Program Board referendum that would add a $1 per credit hour fee to help fund events, both appeared to not have known about the vote. Forrest stated that he’d be in favor if Program Board would cater to graduate students with the increase in funds. But we supported Walthrust’s stance when he said he was against it because it would create a precedent of raising tuition on behalf of student organizations.
Although Forrest’s opponent, Walthrust, is an earnest and impassioned candidate, his unpreparedness makes him unqualified for the role. During our hearing, he jumped back and forth on what his priorities would be if elected. He first mentioned that if only one goal could be met, it would be to increase housing for the multicultural Greek community. Later in the same meeting, Walthrust stated that it was no longer his top priority and didn’t offer an alternative, which shows lack of clarity in his stances.
Walthrust used both personal and student experiences to show what he wanted to work on, but he failed to have an understanding of the logistics of his platform points. For example, Walthrust’s plan to alleviate issues regarding student interactions with the University Police Department and EMeRG is to increase the amount of breathalyzer tests that intoxicated students are given. This undercuts reports from students and UPD officers, which have said that students are unnecessarily brought to the hospital for alleged intoxication.
During our hearing with Walthrust, he spoke about $85 million that had been set aside by the University for sustainability purposes. When we asked him where that number came from, he stated that Logan Malik, the SA’s vice president for undergraduate policy, had told him. Malik, however, said he never gave Walthrust that figure.
Walthrust was motivated to run for a position where he could help others, which was refreshing. His goals are rooted in personal experiences, especially concerning his platform points about the Mount Vernon Campus’ community engagement, diversity and inclusion.
But overall, there is one candidate who developed a platform that is tangible and rooted in research: Brady Forrest. We acknowledge Forrest isn’t a flawless candidate, but if he can achieve even a handful of his goals, then he’ll have an impactful term.
Vote for Forrest for SA executive vice president Tuesday or Wednesday.
Recordings of the endorsement hearings are available here for Brady Forrest and for Ojani Walthrust.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Irene Ly and contributing opinions editor Renee Pineda, based on discussions with managing director Melissa Holzberg, managing editor Tyler Loveless, sports editor Matt Cullen, copy editor Melissa Schapiro and design editor Zach Slotkin.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
This editorial incorrectly reported that Forrest is a third-year graduate student. He is a fourth-year graduate student. It is now correct. We regret this error.
This article appeared in the March 26, 2018 issue of the Hatchet.