Four candidates running in the upcoming Associated Students spring election faced off Tuesday on local and statewide politics at noon in the UCen Hub as part of a series of continuing debates.
Kelly Burns of Students’ Party (SP) and Gerardo Zepeda of Student Action Coalition (SAC) — both candidates for external vice president of local affairs — took turns answering questions written by audience members and read by a moderator. Like Tuesday’s presidential and internal vice presidential debate, the candidates had two minutes for an opening statement and two minutes to respond to each question, which was usually followed by cheering from the candidates’ supporters who were sitting in the audience.
After the forum featuring Burns and Zepeda, Felicia Cruz (SP) and Janett Cardiel (SAC) — both running for external vice president of statewide affairs (EVPSA) — followed the same debate format.
Cruz and Cardiel answered questions about lowering student fees and access to higher education.
Cardiel, who is the chair of Womyn’s Commission, said the EVPSA office should be used to bring all students together to lobby for common goals, regardless of political views, ethnic and economic backgrounds or sexual orientation.
“Regardless of whether you make a million dollars a year or $15,000 a year, when fees go up and financial aid drops, you are affected,” Cardiel said. “That’s something we can identify [with] as UCSB students and as students across the state; not only in the UCs, but in the [community colleges].”
Cruz, the incumbent, said talking and working directly with the UC Regents is a great step toward lowering student fees. She said when she was at UCLA this past fall for a Regents’ meeting — where the Regents voted to increase student fees by 8 percent for the 2005-06 school year — she challenged the data they used to justify raising fees. She said she spoke directly with at least one regent.
“One statistic they put up is that students whose parents make zero to $40,000 are only in debt about $15,000 [upon graduating],” Cruz said. “I told the regent, ‘If you look at that statistic, there’s a commonality. Why are we putting a student whose parents make $20,000 with a student whose parents make $40,000?’ There’s a lot more barriers… that exist with a student [whose parents] make $20,000.”
Most of the questions posed to Burns and Zepeda revolved around the Isla Vista parking plan and housing rates and choices in I.V.
Burns said she supports alternative transportation, but the parking plan would not effectively decrease the number of vehicles students bring to I.V.
“Currently [in the proposed plan] it’s $100 extra to buy a permit,” Burns said. “Even if you got a permit you won’t necessarily get a parking spot… As the plan stands it’ll just further marginalize people… Everyone who can afford it will buy a parking permit and those who can’t, won’t.”
Students were not the only people in the community affected by the parking plan, Zepeda said.
“The parking plan definitely marginalizes a large amount of the community,” he said. “We need to… not just [concentrate] on student issues, but [make] sure [I.V.] families are represented.”
By working with local lobby groups, such as People United for Economic Justice Building Leadership Through Organizing (PUEBLO), housing prices could be lowered, Zepeda said.
“This last January [PUEBLO] went to the Santa Barbara legislature to get $8.3 million for affordable housing, not only for concentrating in Santa Barbara but in Isla Vista as well,” Zepeda said. “We live in a [city] that has a very high living cost; it is not affordable to live here.”
But Burns said working with coalitions is not the only option for creating better housing prices and conditions.
“Lowering the pricing of housing and interfering with the market is very difficult,” Burns said. “I encourage the university to buy more property and maybe lower prices… We could also educate people on the housing options. They could live further [away from campus], live with less people… If we lower prices with rent control or something the [living] conditions are going to go lower and lower.”
The presidential candidates will have a second round of debates April 13 at noon in the Hub, which will be followed by the Legislative Council representative-at-large candidate forum at 1 p.m. Off-campus representative candidates will also hold a debate Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. On-campus representative and university-owned housing representative candidates are scheduled for April 14 at 1 p.m. in the same location.