Party candidates for two Associated Students executive positions faced off in the Hub on Wednesday to champion the ideals of their respective parties.
A debate between candidates for External Vice President of Statewide Affairs (EVPSA) was held at noon, followed by a debate between candidates for External VP of Local Affairs (EVPLA) at 1 p.m. The candidates fielded questions from the audience read by moderator Alejandra Luna, Campus Elections Committee chair.
The three candidates contending for Statewide VP are Andrew Thomas of Student Unity Now (SUN), Felicia Cruz of the Students’ Party and Katie Joaquin of the Student Action Coalition (SAC). Their debate questions centered on lobbying experience and political campaigning experience at the university and state levels.
Joaquin, who currently serves on A.S. Legislative Council, Finance Board, Community Affairs Board, Student Congress On Racial Equality (SCORE) and A.S. Women’s Commission, spoke about the need for the EVPSA to include the efforts of several student groups to make lobbying and campaigning efficient.
“I’ve been working on the efforts of queer students, women and students of color, and I feel it’s important to understand the interconnectedness of these issues, because otherwise how are we gonna get these issues addressed at the state level?” Joaquin said.
Responding to a question asking for candidates’ plans for maintaining safe places on campus for minority groups, Thomas said it is important to target incoming freshmen with diversity education.
“Myself being a queer man, I know what it’s like to not feel safe where you are,” he said. “We need to focus on incoming students and educate them about homophobia.”
Cruz, a current member of Leg Council, SCORE and A.S. Student Lobby, said that as EVPSA she would work to encourage student issues like outreach.
“Budget cuts to outreach are one of the major issues we need to fight,” Cruz said. “We need to organize for other plans too so that in case of cuts, we have a backup plan.”
The debate between the three VP of Local Affairs candidates – SUN candidate Soumil Mehta, Students’ Party candidate Jared Renfro and SAC candidate Corina Garcia – was also moderated by Luna, who read questions from the audience that were more tailored to the local responsibilities of the EVPLA office.
Renfro made clear his priority in office would be students’ rights as tenants and residents of Isla Vista. Responding to a question about the candidates’ positions on the Parental Notification Policy at UCSB, Renfro said while it is important for students to take responsibility for their actions, he disagreed with the policy of notifying parents.
“I like the idea of individual responsibility, but individual rights are more important,” Renfro said. “The Parental Notification Policy needs to be totally abolished.”
Mehta said his involvement on campus this year has been primarily with the Environmental Affairs Board, where he is chair of outreach. He spoke about the importance of involving more students in local issues.
“One thing I’ve come to realize is that students don’t get involved. I want to listen to students and hold public forums in I.V. on parking issues, tenants’ issues and the many issues involved with that,” Mehta said.
While Renfro said the I.V. Community Center should offer services that primarily reflect student needs, Garcia said the center should include broader services.
“It’s not just about students, it’s also about the families who were here before us and will be here after us,” Garcia said. “The issues are much bigger than just students; we need to utilize each other as resources to affect change.”