In the first of several forums leading up to the Associated Students elections this month, candidates for the position of Off-Campus Senator presented themselves to discuss community-related issues yesterday from noon to 2 p.m.
Over the course of two hour-long forums, proctors presented candidates with questions addressing topics including sexual violence, the environment, community celebrations and Greek life, in addition to questions regarding the candidates’ party affiliations. Candidates represented either the Democratic Process Party (DP) or the Open Peoples Party (OPP), and were each allowed a short amount of time to speak.
In response to a question regarding sexual violence on campus, OPP candidate Andre Theus said, if elected, he would unite the student body with various organizations on campus that address sexual assault issues.
“Every day there are campus organizations that are working on this issue, but we need to once again unite and create a culture where UCSB is intolerant of sexual violence,” Theus said.
DP Candidate Anisha Ahuja also said she would strive to allocate more funding for Take Back the Night and other similar committees in addition to prompting the university to address problematic web pages.
“We also need to take a stand against things like UCSB Confessions and UCSB Hook-Ups that perpetuate the rape culture, and continue to educate people about things like consent and rape culture that are existent in our community,” Ahuja said.
When the forum proctor asked candidates their opinion on funding for Greek life, DP Candidate Hani Tajsar said that the Greek community should be required to go through certain training before receiving school funding.
“One goal that I would fulfill … is to require if Greek life is going to want to get funding from Associated Students that they go through safe-zone training,” Tajsar said.
OPP Candidate Corey Lau followed by saying that he did not think funding for Greek life should necessarily be a top priority for A.S.
“[Funding for Greek life] isn’t always something that should be necessarily pushed for,” Lau said. “We do have other issues on campus.”
Later in the questioning, candidates were asked about the ways they would promote a healthier environment during large-scale events such as Deltopia and Halloween.
DP’s Mario Vasquez said a major problem with big Isla Vista events has to do with inaccessibility to large portions of the student body.
“It’s a travesty that these events aren’t for everyone, they’re not for all students,” Vasquez said. “It’s a travesty that I have homosexual friends, the queer community, that don’t feel safe walking around in pride festival shirts and are susceptible to hate crimes.”
OPP Candidate Jake Speyer said the school should continue supporting these events but place a larger emphasis on student safety.
“I feel that we should start by saying that Deltopia and Halloween are traditions that UCSB holds and that we should absolutely not get rid of them,” Speyer said. “But with these traditions comes some things that we need to improve, such as infrastructure, education and awareness and community engagement.”
Toward the end of the forum, candidates were asked to explain why they chose to run with their respective party. According to OPP candidates, their party policy — creating a new platform with every new group of candidates — allows for more original ideas and innovation. Several DP candidates said current DP senators have been more involved in the groups they were part of.
Members from both parties emphasized their interest in diversity, each side arguing that their party represented every single UCSB student.
Forums and debates will continue this week and the next. Still to come are the Presidential and Executive Officer debates, as well as the On-Campus Senator forum. Voting begins April 22 on GOLD.