– Anonymous photo of the CC ’10 presidential candidates in friendlier days (aka “last week”)

The 2010 Class Council hopefuls gathered in cramped Lerner 568 to wade through students’ favorite topics this evening.  Guessing, perhaps, that there would be little new and exciting to hear, there were not more than ten people in the audience, including the moderator, Brenden Cline, and Elections Board Head James Bogner.

The debate was between The Party Party (not a typo) and The Clear Party.  Though punsters both, The Clear Party was clearly more tickled with its name, never missing an opportunity to end its alloted time with a flourish of, “I think we’ve been Clear.”

Cline’s questions covered familiar territory and were met with familiar answers.  Both parties responded on topics ranging from engaging and uniting the senior class to student life initiative proposals to throwing parties.

Indeed, engaging the senior class after three years of moderate disinterest was the focus of both parties tonight. AJ Pascua, The Party Party President, was firm in his belief that senior year has to be a turning point: “Senior year is incredibly different,” he said.  “It’s all about traditions.”  Cliff Massey, The Clear Party President, countered that new perspectives were needed; the council should not rely on tradition alone.

Past that distinction, there was nothing new.  Each set of responses to the questions was largely the same.  Pascua hammered away at the three buzzwords of The Party Party’s platform: collaboration, connections, and”we’ve already done that.”  Integrating Greek life?  Check.  Exploring Manhattan?  Check.  Real-world skills after four years of an economics degree?  Check. 

No matter The Clear Party’s rebuttal, The Party Party’s response was inevitably along the lines of, “Yes, we’ve done that.  We have connections!”  And The Party Party’s solution to most problems?  “Publicize, publicize, and collaborate,” said Pascua.  The Party Party neglected to expand on how exactly its numerous connections would work for students, except for the possibility of businesses owned by alumni recruiting graduating Columbians.  

The Clear Party, often put on the defensive, sought to pick apart the finer points of The Party Party’s confidence.  Regarding The Party Party’s claim of a detailed Web site, Cliff Massey asked, “Did you update it, like, this morning?  There’s nothing whatsoever new.” He then cited the vagueness of the group’s “Platform” page.  The Party Party generally answered questions with the claim of experience, but The Clear Party’s nudging forced Pascua into listing numerous examples of his party’s successes, drawing largely on his ticket members’ past years on council.

Perhaps the only dramatic moment of the 80 minutes began when Pascua brought up his party’s Chipotle study break.  Asher Grodman responded by mentioning that day’s beautiful weather had driven everyone outdoors—they weren’t on the ramps.  Evelyn Phan continued, “You throw an event and expect them to go to you.  We went door to door [in Wien and Schapiro.]”  Pascua suggested this level of proactive politics amounted to harassment, throwing The Clear Party on the defensive.

Both parties stated again and again that increased cooperation and coordination was needed between various organizations.  Each promised to have a hand in a long list of activities for what seemed to be every organization on campus.  Yes, Greek life ought to have more of a role in campus life.  Yes, the “bureaucracy and bullcrap” that is the ABC funding process needs to be streamlined.  And yes, everyone loves free stuff (including the upcoming delight of appropriately-sized T-shirts).

Overall, The Party Party was much more polished and prepared, looking refined as its members calmly sat in their matching suits.  The Clear Party was much more casual, a mix of colors and styles, often laughing at questions and making (terrible) puns.  Apart from the image and the clash of experience vs. novelty, however, The Party Party failed to distinguish the uniqueness of its ideas from The Clear Party’s.  Too bad their equally cringe-inducing names won’t be a factor.

– AB