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Junior in political Benjamin Whittington answers a question. Whittington’s campaign is “Bridging the Divide.” The Iowa State Student Government Presidential Debate was held in the Campanile Room of Memorial Union on Feb. 26.

During the Student Government presidential debate, more than 111 questions were submitted to the candidates. In an effort for the students to still hear back from the candidates on their questions, the Iowa State Daily provided each of the candidates with the questions in full, allowing them to address the questions they see fit. Below are the questions and answers from Student Government presidential candidate Benjamin Whittington.

Your original running mate was going to be Vishishta, your current running mate is Annaliessa. Both of these names are similar to your competitors VPs. Was this on purpose or coincidence?

Haha! What a hilarious coincidence. I’m not sure how you know about Vishishta, but he and I were never serious about running. Annaliessa has never met another person with such a similar name to hers, and we find it very comical that their names are so close. On a serious note, I would never pick someone to run with based on their name. Annaliessa and I are equal partners and chose to run together as such. I did not pick her, we picked each other. Additionally, Annaliessa has many qualifying attributes that will make her an excellent vice president. Her extensive experience as a full-time staff member at the American Embassy in Dublin, Ireland being just one.

It’s no secret that Student Government has had its interpersonal relationship problems in the past. With your limited experience in Student Government thus far, what would you do (if elected) to connect with returning senators and form a cohesive working environment for Student Government?

Despite my “limited experience in Student Government” it is obvious to see the current divide amongst senators and the cabinet. When elected, Annaliessa and I will work on improving transparency within Student Government. Through these efforts, better trust, respect, and appreciation can be fostered, resulting in a better overall culture and experience.

In your platform, you talk about creating more transparency in student government. In what ways do you think that the current administration is not being transparent and how would you try to fix that?

As Annaliessa mentioned in the vice presidential debate, the Student Government website is abysmal. To quote Annaliessa, the Student Government website links go to page not found, after page not found, after page not found. This is unacceptable. Students need to be kept up to date on what student government is doing, and where their money is going. When elected, one of the first Whittington-Michelotti initiatives would be fixing and updating the website regularly. We encourage anyone who believes the current administration is transparent to go on the student government website and find the minutes from the last senate meeting. Spoiler alert: they’re not there. Does that sound transparent to you?

If parking is an issue on campus, how would using bikes fix the issues of inadequate parking? Should students bike during winter months?

For starters, parking is a well-known issue on campus. Our bike share initiative will introduce university owned bikes that students can borrow whenever they wish. Therefore, encouraging students that live on or near campus to bike to class, rather than drive. Bike share initiatives are a popular program on a global scale. Not only are they in bigger cities, like Chicago and Seattle, but they are in Europe as well. Dublin, Ireland, for example, has a very popular bike share program. As for biking in the winter, that would be something students can and do choose to do. Annaliessa bikes in the winter quite often. Additionally, we go to school in all seasons, not just the winter.

If you are passionate about Student Government and the leadership opportunities it provides, why are neither you or Annaliessa running for Senate spots as well? And why have neither of you mentioned trying to continue efforts to get involved in student government?

I am running for a Senate position. Annaliessa was unaware she could run for both, at the time of the deadline. She wishes to stay involved in student government and has been advocating herself as a write-in candidate for a Senate seat for UROC. Annaliessa wanted to get involved in Student Government before, but couldn’t due to transparency issues. In her experience, she has found it hard to get involved if you don’t know the right people. We want to change that so other Cyclones wishing to get involved do not have the same experiences as Annaliessa.

How does it feel being the best dressed?

Damn good.

Only the Graber-Bhatia campaign has reached out to administration to make sure their platform ideas can actually be created and implicated. How do you know if your campaign promises can be kept if you haven't met with administration?

This is simply not correct. Annaliessa and I have met with numerous administration, the parking division being just one example that was mentioned several times in both the vice presidential and presidential debates.

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