by Dyanna Rivera

MADRID – As we enter the second half of March, this year’s campaign season begins to draw to a close. On Monday, March 15, Team Serendipity, The Hive, and Legacy gathered together to assert their cases one last time before letting students cast their vote. 

The debate started with general questions from The Stork. The first question asking about how each team would conduct meetings with IE’s administration and how often these meetings would occur. 

Serendipity asserted that they wanted to have meetings with administration twice a month to communicate student needs more clearly, encouraging the student body to “speak when you need and talk louder when you have to”. 

Legacy disagreed with Serendipity, saying that such frequent meetings are “inefficient”, instead saying that one meeting each month should suffice. However, if it’s the student government’s job to be meeting with administrators to communicate issues as they arise, shouldn’t we be encouraging frequent meetings?

The Hive expressed a vague stance, stating that “times are changing rapidly” due to COVID, therefore it’s difficult to establish a definite proposal for this. Although this is a fair point, basically saying we’re not sure but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there just makes it look like the team lacks a clear vision as to how communications in this area should work.

Another topic of debate was each team’s stance on the issues within IE regarding diversity and inclusion, specifically regarding racial complaints from different students.

Serendipity took a personal approach in their answer, with Fiona Wu, the team’s president, recounted her own experiences with racial harrassment and discrimination in Spain. However, she stated that “we often connotate diversity with nationality” due to IE’s international nature, going on to say that attention to diversity should also include demographics regarding sexual and gender identity and socioeconomic status. 

Legacy’s response to what could’ve been a powerful breakdown of racial diversity on campus by Team Serendipity was that there is a difference between diversity and tolerance. Daniel Aguilera, Legacy’s president, argued that social events can help promote diversity and breakdown racial stereotypes and divides, uniting the IE campus once and for all. This all sounds lovely with everyone singing kumbaya at the end of the year celebration the team proposed, but if this were really the solution then IE would not have had these same problems in the past as expressed in the open letter to the IE administration published last spring. 

The Hive responded by stating the obvious, that “this is a very sensitive issue” which requires close work with the Inclusion and Diversity Committee, urging the community to continue coming forward to make their experiences known. 

Next were questions from the current student government, targeted at individual teams. One of these first questions addressed the problem of extreme time zone differences, specifically for students who are in Asia. Considering that Team Legacy wants to repeal non class learning sessions, how would they navigate this obstacle? 

Legacy responded by saying that their proposal suggests replacing non class learning sessions with Zoom classes so that students can interact with the professor and the class without “wasting” hundreds of euros. But the problem still stands – replacing non class learnings with more Zoom sessions only exacerbates the struggle these students have to go through to attend class, meaning that money is still “wasted” when students can hardly stay awake enough to genuinely learn the class material. Legacy went on to criticize Serendipity’s shuttle proposal for the millionth time, temporarily derailing the debate from the topic at hand.

Team Serendipity and The Hive both responded to the question with proposals that would work to build off the current model rather than eliminating non class learnings entirely. 

The next question from the student government was directed towards Team Serendipity, asking how exactly they planned on managing titles since their communications officer is also running for a..wellness position?

Fiona defended Serendipity by explaining that the student government needs “to be flexible” when it comes to managing student wellness. She cited her own experience last spring of helping a friend through crisis, reasoning that students are more likely to trust their peers than a professional, hence why her team saw a need for a Wellness Executive. Responding to backlash about how this could potentially be against the university’s bylaws, Fiona stated that the bylaws say it’s up to each team to decide what their titles will be. 

Abdul Salam, running as The Hive’s president, immediately responded to Fiona’s sentiment expressing that “[he doesn’t] think that a student should be responsible” for another student’s mental health. Salam then went on to highlight the various resources available on campus for students who are struggling. But how exactly does The Hive want to promote these resources? Perhaps we’ll know in September if they’re elected. 

Legacy responded again with criticism towards Serendipity, completely avoiding the question and instead focusing on the health of Serendipity’s Communications and Wellness Executive. To a bystander at this point, it may have appeared that the debate was over a person’s well-being rather than policy proposals. Legacy also came back around to their previous arguments against Serendipity’s proposals, again citing the budgetary concerns for Serendipity’s shuttle policy.

Before moving on to the next question, Fiona defended this policy by claiming that she had submitted a detailed proposal for the shuttle earlier this week.

To The Hive, the student government inquired about how exactly the team planned on increasing traffic to Campus Groups, considering that it’s a third party platform IE has no control over.

The Hive’s response was to make the installation of Campus Groups mandatory for all students to promote traffic, after which they can begin to promote incentives for students using the platform. But how reasonable is this? We all know the saying – you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink. Realistically, we can’t expect IE to regulate this in the same way they do with COVID status. As if the security guards will ask students for proof that they have Campus Groups? I think not.

Legacy responded to the question by suggesting that adding high profile events will get students excited to be more involved on campus and within the app before shifting to their own proposal of transportation upgrades for clubs and athletics. However, considering that Campus Life already provides considerable reimbursement in the case of transportation emergencies are these upgrades really needed? In other words, why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

The Hive and Serendipity both shared this sentiment, with The Hive lashing back on Legacy stating that “maybe [Legacy should] ask IE to hand out masks…since you like money so much”.

Daniel Aguilera from Team Legacy retaliated, claiming that the teams “may have disagreements but [Legacy] won’t be accusing them of ‘money’ “. Just a quick rewind though, wasn’t Legacy just attacking Serendipity repeatedly over money with the shuttle? Or maybe that was just our imaginations. 

Now that students have had the chance to listen in on the details each team had to provide on their policies (which in some cases, there weren’t any details – yikes), they are free to cast their vote via BlackBoard until march 19th at 11:59 pm. Stay tuned with The Stork and student government on Instagram @ieustudentgov and @ieustork for updates. 

Keep voting ! 

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