Taking a clue from our national presidential debates, the five candidates for the Associated Students presidency struggled to differentiate themselves from one another Wednesday in the Hub during the first of two scheduled presidential debates.

Junior political science and sociology major William Flores, junior business economics major Brian Hampton, junior political science and English major Martin Markovits, junior law and society major Constantine Pastis and junior law and society major Patrick “Mad Cow” Schanes-Gallagher introduced themselves and their platforms to approximately 100 people.

Flores, a Legislative Council representative running on the Student Action Coalition ticket, said access and diversity are important issues, especially when it comes to the power of presidential appointments to committees.

“We need to be sure the president appoints a representative group of students from the student body,” Flores said. He also recommended increasing the number of gender and sexuality studies programs offered.

Hampton, who is running with the Gauchoholics party, has been president of the Gaucho Locos for the past two years and said UCSB athletics does not receive the attention or funding it should. He suggested better sports promotions and supported the student services activity fee.

“I don’t even enjoy campaigning that much,” Hampton said. “I just want to get in office and get to work.”

Markovits said this year’s important issues are the costs of education, housing and safety. He suggested that funding for housing and athletics come from the state, and finances for safety on campus, like blue-light phones, should be solicited from the county by A.S.

“A.S. can do a lot of good things,” Markovits said, “but it hasn’t been used as it should.”

Pastis has been involved with A.S. since 1998 and is currently the vice president of the Gaucho Locos. He said safety is important and recommended improving bikepaths, accommodation for skateboards and restoration of Davidson Library’s Reserve Book Room. Pastis is currently working to develop a web site that will help protect students from neglectful landlords. He suggests that to foster better relations between students and the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, mediation is important, but both students and the IVFP need to be present. “When we try to reach out to the foot patrol, sometimes they don’t participate,” Pastis said.

Schanes-Gallagher invests his time with Children Helping Poor and Homeless People, an outreach program he started in 1987. He said political coalitions are divisive and plans to abolish them if elected. “Mad Cow’s” experience consists primarily of activism, and, in addition to funding safety and athletics on campus, he pointed out that beach cleanup and homeless feedings are also important.

“You can feed 500 homeless people with a batch of cookies,” Schanes-Gallagher said. “I guarantee it. I’ve done it before.”