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Each Board candidate gets to ask a question, and each question will have an answer from each candidate below it.

Nelson Pavlosky's Question

What action needs to be taken to make sure SFC survives for the next several years, and how will you go about securing SFC's future?

Nelson Pavlosky responds

I think that the number one thing SFC needs to survive in the long term is one or more paid employees, to ensure reliability. [Longer answer will go here]

Ben Moskowitz responds

SFC will survive in some form as long as there are members that care about the issues. That said, the national organization seriously risks irrelevance if we don't regularly meet and set a direction for SFC. A paid coordinator may be the way to go, but more than that: we need dedicated individuals to put a lot of time and effort in to set the tone of discussion, set reasonable goals, and strengthen the group's infrastructure. I believe these are tasks for the board—at this point, continuity of leadership is moot if we don't revitalize the organization.

Kevin Donovan's Question

Why was Students for Free Culture not a signatory or involved with this letter encouraging Obama to pick a reasonable IP Czar?

Ben Moskowitz responds

The short answer is that there's no functional decision-making process at the national level right now. Part of the problem is that we don't have wide-open and accessible channels for communication. IMHO, the first step towards concerted coordination is migrating discussion from the email list to a web-based forum. Web-based forums allow anyone to easily access the discussion archives and join in. Not only will a discussion forum focus our energies, it will be publicly indexed so potential members and others can see what we're up to. Email is too impermanent and non-inclusive; it's not very user-friendly for non-techies, and the problem is worsened by the toxic tone our list has acquired.

Ben Moskowitz's Question

What role do you see SFC playing five years from now?

Ben Moskowitz responds

I hesitate to say it, but SFC is less a national organization than an great idea surrounded by impenetrable walls. It's almost impossible for anyone to peer in and see what's going on. Potential members are discouraged by how hard it is to participate, then scared away by the free software dogma that constitutes the list and IRC. While free software is a very important part of our work, it's not the whole enchilada—otherwise we'd be called Students for Free Software.

We can do better than that. Five years from now, I'd like to see us a playing a major role in public discussions about technology and policy. We need to take stances like the ones Kevin Donovan has been advocating. We need to build strong partnerships with organizations that have a direct hand in the formation of policy. We need to have measurable successes in opening up our universities. The vision I have for SFC is a vibrant, university based advocacy group for promoting the public interest in technology. In five years, I'd like to see the number of chapters doubled, the existing chapters strengthened, and SFC recognized at the university level as a kind of salon for young digerati.