Student leaders disappointed in Kadima

Student leaders at the College of Management disappointed that Kadima didn't participate in the school's mock elections.

Student leaders at the College of Management in Rishon LeZiyon expressed disappointment Wednesday at the reluctance of Kadima candidates to participate in the Hyde Park-style election campaign that took place at the College the same day. Itai Shonshine, a College student who was elected earlier this week as the chair of the National Student Association, told the Jerusalem Post that while Kadima's Haim Ramon accepted the invitation to participate in the event, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz cancelled after already having confirmed his participation. "I feel there is a kind of alienation here," Shonshine told the Jerusalem Post. "They feel like the students are in their pocket." Shonshine also expressed his disappointment that Kadima has yet to sign the Student Petition written by the Association, in which the students presented their demands for changes in academic budgeting and tuition. The petition has been presented for signing over the past week to representatives of the various political parties (Labor and Likud have also yet to sign the petition). Shonshine emphasized that his criticism of Kadima was independent of its political platform. "We are worried about their response, down the line, to much more fundamental issues," Shonshine said. "I call upon Kadima and every other party to look us in the eyes, because we are an important part of the public." "I hope that the day after the elections we will get what we really need," he said. "But if this is the kind of dismissive treatment we are getting before the elections, I am worried about what will follow." Former Education Minister Limor Livnat, whom College representatives also said they had invited to participate, did not appear. Her spokesman, Yoram Malka, told the Post he had no knowledge of the event. Mofaz's last-minute cancellation, however, did not prevent students at the College of Management from alloting Kadima 40 mandates at the mock elections. The elections took place following a series of panels also attended by Isaac Herzog and Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor), Avraham Poraz (Hetz) and Effi Eitam (National Religious Party). Only 10% of the students, however, participated in the election - despite the fact that they were given the option of voting electronically from home. Labor came in after Kadima with 16 mandates. It is difficult to find any consistent pattern in the series of mock elections conducted this week on various university campuses. At Tel Aviv University, where mock elections took place on Monday, Meretz won the election with 30 mandates. By contrast, at the Hebrew University, where mock elections took place on Wednesday, the winning party was NRP/National Union. At Ben Gurion University, where mock elections took place on Tuesday, Labor won the election with 34 mandates, while Kadima only received 19 mandates. Tamar Shchori, chair of BGU's student union, told the Jerusalem Post that she was also disappointed in Kadima. Both Shimon Peres and Dalia Itzik, she said, turned down offers to appear at the university. When the student union appealed to other Kadima representatives, she said, they were treated dismissively. "Other parties sent us prominent candidates, while Kadima offered us numbers 29 and 32 on its list," she said. "Even when we accepted, in the end nobody from Kadima showed up." Shchori emphasized that the student union at Ben-Gurion University was not political. Nevertheless, she said, "our feeling is that Kadima is not interested in the students." Yoel Hason, who is responsible for organizing Kadima's political panels, said in response: "Kadima representatives have participated in hundreds of panels during the last election campaign in order to represent Kadima's platform." "In both cases," Hason said, "it was difficulty to send representatives, and this is not an indication of being dismissive on the ground. Kadima will not accept any panel organizers determining for it who will represent it on panels."