As part of an ongoing series of Associated Students candidate forums, four vice president hopefuls laid out their plans for student government and the local community yesterday in the UCen Hub.
Internal Vice President candidates Felix Hu and Raymond Meza began the forum at noon, taking turns answering a series of written questions from audience members. Joel Rodriguez-Flores and Rame Hanna took the stage at 1 p.m., each trying to convince the audience why he was the best choice for External Vice President of Local Affairs.
Open People’s Party (OPP) candidate Hu and Students’ Party (SP) candidate Meza agreed on such issues as helping to decrease student fees and supporting The Green Initiative Fund, a nearly $3-per-student-per-quarter lock-in fee that will appear on the spring ballot. However, the candidates differed in how they perceived the nature and purpose of the Internal Vice President’s priorities.
While Meza acknowledged that the position was responsible for internal workings and internal cohesion, he stressed the importance of participating in lobbying efforts. He went on to say that he differed from his opponent in that the issues he tries to work on “directly benefit the students” by making “sure fees don’t rise.”
However, Hu countered Meza’s argument by saying that the Internal Vice President’s job was to create a strong structural base for A.S., including well-organized committees and trained personnel, allowing the two external vice presidents to dedicate their efforts to lobbying.
“It seems to me [Meza is] running for the wrong office,” Hu said.
In answering a question concerning accomplishments in student government, Meza cited his work on care packages for students during exam times and his knowledge of UCSB’s inner workings due to his position on the Academic Senate advisory committee. He also mentioned his participation in lobbying efforts, and his willingness to work with fellow students, including members of Students’ Party – a party he recently joined.
“I chose to run with [SP] because they got things done for students,” Meza said.
Meanwhile, Hu said he has had extensive work in reorganizing – and simplifying – A.S. bureaucracy with several bills he has written over the past two years while serving on A.S. Legislative Council. Hu said he helped rewrite a majority of the new A.S. Constitution, which is up for student approval this spring.
In addition, Hu said that, if elected, revamping and filling the various A.S. committees would be his first priority.
“If committees aren’t functioning, then A.S. isn’t functioning,” Hu said.
At the 1 p.m. forum, SP candidate Rodriguez-Flores and OPP candidate Hanna covered a variety of local issues, mostly concerning Isla Vista, that ranged from student-police relations to tenants’ rights.
Rodriguez-Flores focused on his experience as a member of the Isla Vista Tenants Union, the Isla Vista Project Area Committee/General Plan Advisory Committee (PAC/GPAC), and – like Hu and Meza – Leg Council.
He also brought up bad experiences with a former landlord and explained how it fueled him to help organize last quarter’s “Call-Your-Landlord Day.”
Hanna, who is currently the A.S. Attorney General, said his work as a leader for a UCSB course on police-community relations has led to improvements in students’ dealings with the I.V. Foot Patrol. Hanna’s class trains students as legal observers who follow police and record their actions, then write policy recommendations.
“The police are under the assumption that we don’t know our rights,” Hanna said.
Rodriguez-Flores accused Hanna of not having the qualifications to be External Vice President of Local Affairs, saying Hanna is not a member of key I.V. groups, and does not have experience working with local government. In addition, he pointed out that Hanna lives on campus, and therefore could not fully understand off-campus problems.
“You have to live off campus to have working knowledge of what students face,” Rodriguez-Flores said.
However, Hanna dismissed Rodriguez-Flores’ comments, saying that he has spent sufficient time learning about I.V., enabling him to understand the issues well enough to serve in the position.