Five Associated Students presidential candidates faced off in the UCen Hub on Friday for a half-hour debate that was cut short because of a fire drill.
The few students in attendance submitted questions for Brian Hampton, Constantine Pastis, William Flores, Patrick “Mad Cow” Schanes-Gallagher and Martin Markovits.
To begin the debate, candidates were asked to rate the job of current A.S. President Mahader Tesfai.
“Our current A.S. president has done a lot for a certain group of people, but there were also those who were left out,” Hampton said. “If I was to become president, I would be there for everyone’s interest.”
Flores, who helped create the Commission on Disability Access, said he planned to make the president’s office more accessible.
“I want to represent a diverse group of students,” he said. “I want to expand working on projects dealing with gender studies and the disability programs.”
The discussion then turned to the relevance of candidate debates, given the low attendance.
“Not many people are interested enough. We need to show them what we do,” Schanes-Gallagher said. “There are so many things Associated Students are doing, and I just want students to know our issues and differences.”
The candidates also fielded questions about their personal heroes.
“My hero would by my mom,” Pastis said. “I was raised in a single-parent home, and I’ve moved around a lot. My mom has been there for me throughout all those times.”
Markovits, who has campaigned on solving housing problems in Isla Vista, said he would work to lower housing costs.
“Down the line, only a rich group of students can come here due to high prices for housing,” he said. “Housing is very important for the student’s education, and each student should be able to afford it.”
Hampton agreed that I.V. could use work.
“We need to be more selective and force the landlords to make it a nicer place for students to live,” he said. “As of now, it’s pretty ghetto.”
Schanes-Gallagher said housing problems extend beyond Santa Barbara.
“All public universities are struggling with housing and overpopulation,” Gallagher said. “I want to sit down with Chancellor [Henry] Yang and talk about these issues.”
With the high population density comes environmental problems, which are another of Markovits’ campaign issues. Markovits announced his support of a general education requirement for an environmental studies class.
Flores also took up the environmental argument. He said students should be able to enjoy the beaches, but often cannot because of environmental problems.
“We need to take responsibility of our money in order to be environmentally friendly,” he said.
The debate was cut short by the fire drill, leaving several questions unanswered.
The Spring Election will be on April 24 and 25.