Associated Students presidential candidates Jonathan Abboud, Megan Foronda and Patrick “Mac” Kennedy debated issues such as the rising cost of college tuition, combating student apathy, fostering a safe campus climate and the role of the Association during the first of two Associated Students Presidential Candidate Forums.
Currently a Resident Advisor at Santa Catalina, third-year sociology major Foronda is running with the Democratic People’s Party (DPP), while Abboud, a third-year political science major who is currently president of the Residence Hall Association, is running with the Open People’s Party (OPP). Kennedy, a second-year political science major, who served as an On-campus Senator until his resignation in January, is an independent candidate.
Foronda said she aims to use her student body government experience to engage and empower students if elected.
“I have been involved with Associated Students since my first year,” Foronda said. “I am here today not only to run as AS president, but to represent you as a student body and the student voices that have otherwise been silenced.”
Abboud said he would continue to make real changes on campus as A.S. President in addition to the reforms he has already implemented as RHA President.
“I love UCSB. Since the first day I stepped on this campus I fell in love with this campus,” Abboud said. “I have implemented real changes on this campus … [like] take out boxes in the dining commons. The Office of the President will allow me to implement even more direct change to this campus”
Kennedy said substantive reform is necessary to make the association more fiscally efficiently and criticized A.S.’s excessive spending of student’s money on honoraria — particularly on salaries for Executive candidates.
“I’m running because I’m passionate about making this campus a better place for all students,” Kennedy said. “There needs to be several structural reforms in A.S. Currently, tens of thousands of dollars aren’t going back to the students, and are being pocketed by A.S. executives.”
Foronda focused on the rising cost of tuition as the chief monetary concern for students, and said it is crucial to encourage students to participate in rallies, lobby legislators and generally voice concerns about the issue.
“Tuition has risen over 300 percent in the last 10 years,” Foronda said. “Student voices have not been heard … I will be there, and I have been there … representing student voices.”
According to Abboud, his goal is to continue keeping students constantly involved in A.S.
“We can’t get caught up in the jargon,” Abboud said. “As RHA president, and as A.S. senator … I’ve done a really good job connecting with students. A.S. was created for and by the students and we have the right to keep A.S. … related to the students.”
Addressing the subject of student apathy, Kennedy said the fault lies not with the general student population, but with their student government representatives who have failed to successfully engage them.
“Disconnect is a huge problem between A.S. and the student body,” Kennedy said. “Students have not been engaged at all whatsoever in A.S. …where is the outreach? Where is the engagement? … I hope that in the future as I have done to continue the work in engaging students … making sure students are aware that they have agency, that they have power.”