A Mixed Debate

On the eve of last Wednesday’s presidential election, WPAA hosted a debate between the three remaining candidates. The moderator, new General Manager Alex Heffner, was both ambitious and endearing. One must appreciate the program’s attempts to force sincerity. The moderator was not afraid to ask the candidates tough questions and refuse evasive answers. The debate successfully challenged the candidates’ abilities to deal with the type of tough situations they would encounter in office. This aspect of the program benefited both the candidates and the voters. However, some of the program’s “shock value” tactics better demonstrated a resolve to improve WPAA listenership than to provide a substantive debate. Although most of the moderator’s questions were insightful and timely, some were outlandish, inappropriate and unfair. The question about grades was as inappropriate this time as it was in the first debate. The moderator asked candidates to announce the number of 6’s they had received at PA, and waited while they counted them in their heads. In a national election, nothing is private. However, in a small community like Andover, everyone, even Presidential candidates, ought to have the right to keep their grades private. The program took this privacy from them, and had no justification. The program also attempted to coerce the candidates into criticizing our Head of School, and do so in one word. As the moderator said, “Students don’t want to hear flattering things.” However, as Mr. Adler responded, that was “unreasonable.” Still, we must give WPAA credit for its positive accomplishments. When the moderator asked about honesty, the DC system, Commons renovations, the Blue Book and presidential initiatives, he encouraged a spirited discussion that helped inform listeners. The program asked candidates insightful and pertinent questions, like “What will be your first policy shift [as president]?” Though one must commend WPAA for its sincere efforts towards a progressive debate, “shock value” tactics have no place on this campus.