ASB presidential candidates participate in surprise debate


Michael Brown

Noah Olson and Chris Jackson answer questions on the porch of Lower Caf

Bethany Reeves, Editor in Chief

At 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, students had the opportunity to hear current ASB council members, Chris Jackson and Noah Olson, debate one another on the porch of Lower Caf, as they vie for the role of ASB president.

The sound system for the debate was provided by Holey Waffles, the Hotchkiss-based company that hosted the event. Jackson and Olson faced the audience from separate tables.

Candidates Jackson and Olson said that they were not contacted about the debate before it was announced.

“I found out that it was happening when the posters went up,” Olson said.

TMU students, Ryan Martin, Stanford Stabbert and Pablo Santiago, are the owners of Holey Waffles.

“Yeah, I just came up with this event,” Martin, who acted as moderator, said. “I was talking with my friends and said we should do a debate. And it wasn’t so much a debate. It was more like a Q&A. We just came up with it, and I mediated it.”

At the start of the debate, Martin explained the three categories of questions: competent character, connecting with Master’s and critical issues. Martin said that neither the audience nor the candidates were aware of the questions in advance.

Listeners were invited to send potential questions to Holey Waffles’ Instagram profile. Participant inquiries included the candidates’ leadership roles off campus, how they would respond in a disagreement and what power they believed the role of ASB president would offer.

During the debate, Jackson and Olson were asked to share their thoughts on their opponent’s greatest strength.

“Serving with Chris on ASB this semester, one thing that I have noticed is that he’s at every event,” said Olson. “He’s always there early. He’s helping us set up. He’s not quick to avoid menial tasks. He will humble himself, and I think that’s a really good quality.”

Jackson watched Olson from across the stage and thanked him for his words.

“Being able to serve with [Noah], I like the way he came into ASB willing to serve, wanting to serve, and having that desire to just be there with us. Coming in a semester later, he just jumped into everything and had no problem getting to know everybody,” Jackson said. “He’s extremely friendly. He was there with us at all the events, helping us plan. Just seeing how he serves and his love to serve is, I think, his best quality.”

In the “Critical Issues” segment of the debate, Martin asked the candidates about their main goal as ASB President.

“Just to serve as much as I possibly can. I can’t say that I’m gonna do anything major for the school,” Jackson said, mentioning that projects like the proposed sidewalk to North Campus are out of his control. “All I can do is serve you guys to the best of my ability with as much time as I possibly can, and so that’s what I want to do.”

In response, Olson said, “[We need] communication with the student body, all different types and varieties of students. Once those voices get heard, the things that we put out get better. My whole campaign is about students wanting to invest more on campus. People would rather be off campus than on campus, and I want to change that.”

When the debate had finished, Olson said that while the event had gone well, he wished more people had attended.

“I think it’s early still, and as it gets closer to the 13th, I think more people will take interest. Hopefully,” Olson said. “I do know that only a very small amount of people voted last year, and my goal is to really change that.”

This event is the first ASB presidential debate in recent TMU history.

“Maybe next year we could have three of these, like the presidential election,”  Martin said, looking towards the future “And if ASB could get behind it, it could be even better. You could put it in the Trough or another location. It could be really cool.”