With more students in attendance than last week, yesterday’s electoral debates for the Associated Students External Vice President of Statewide Affairs and A.S. President featured questions from both the A.S. Elections Committee and students.
The two-hour event took place in the UCen Hub yesterday between noon and 2 p.m. Students’ Party candidate Bill Shiebler debated Open People’s Party candidate Naz Hassanzadeh-Kiabi for the EVPSA position. Three candidates – OPP’s Jared Goldschen, SP candidate Romy Lea Frazier and Chilla Vista’s Jake Lehman – discussed their A.S. presidential platforms.
The first forum featured Hassanzadeh-Kiabi and Shiebler answering questions concerning student fees, lobbying efforts and their past experience. Shiebler, a third-year sociology major, said he was qualified for the job because he has worked with several student organizations on statewide issues and has sufficient experience as the current EVPSA.
“Over the course of my time here, I’ve dedicated a lot of my time to statewide issues,” Shiebler said. “I’m currently serving as the EVPSA … I am deeply passionate about the work that goes on at the state level.”
Hassanzadeh-Kiabi, a fourth-year business economics major, said she has contacted several statewide organizations to learn more about issues affecting higher education and could offer a unique perspective to the position.
“I’ve got to say that my experience with my disability allowed me to see the world from a different perspective,” Hassanzadeh-Kiabi said.
The majority of the forum centered on student finances. Hassanzadeh-Kiabi said she thought the most pressing issue for students was the cost of fee hikes, while Shiebler said federal cuts to student loans and financial aid were devastating higher education. He said the EVPSA should focus on making an education from the University of California less expensive.
“I think there’s a couple of things that can be done for solving affordability,” Shiebler said. “It’s something that [the University of California Student Association] has been working on and I’ve been working on … We’re building a student compact with the Regents to ensure long-term affordability.”
Meanwhile, Hassanzadeh-Kiabi said she thinks the EVPSA should help create a more fiscally conservative A.S. since the organization will have close to $30,000 less in their budget next school year.
“Lobbying is very, very essential, but we need to make sure we use money efficiently,” Hassanzadeh-Kiabi said. “Bill, I know you said it’s getting old, but we need to make sure we do not waste our money … There’s other ways to go about it. There’s fundraising [and] there’s corporations that are more than willing to help.”
However, Shiebler said Hassanzadeh-Kiabi lacked the experience to make such a statement and was neglecting the success of past lobby groups.
“My opponent spent $100 on glamour shots. If you want to talk about wasteful spending … ” Shiebler said. “You tell [students] it was a waste to save 6.5 million dollars in financial aid.”
In the second event, the three presidential candidates took the stage.
About the A.S. budget, third-year business economics major Goldschen said he thinks the organization should take less money from students and use more of its business services. Frazier, a third-year global studies major, suggested A.S. expand it sales on course readers and return to writing grant requests. Third-year global studies major Lehman said he thinks A.S. should communicate more with UC administrators.
“There is work we can do at the statewide level,” Lehman said. “We can put pressure and let statewide know that we want our fees lower for education.”
The three candidates also discussed their goals for the UCSB community. Lehman said he thinks A.S. should sponsor more events, such as the Chilla Vista festival he is coordinating for June.
“What we’re really trying to do is build student activism and get students passionate about their community through arts and music, and other forms of outreach,” Lehman said.
Frazier said she thinks students should have more alternative activities on the weekends.
“For example, last Halloween … I worked very closely with Student Lobby and Associated Students in organizing a Halloween festival,” Frazier said.
Goldschen said A.S. should focus on unifying the UCSB community.
“We’re trying to bridge the generational and communication gap between professors and students,” Goldschen said. “We’re working with the Ratepayers Board for parking rates [and] trying to create a sustainable programming entity for UCSB students.”
Goldschen also said he thinks students should have better access to public transportation.
“I’ve been extremely involved in this campus on various commissions and committees,” Goldschen said. “We’re trying to work on improving the bus system. We’re trying to improve the bike paths around campus and Isla Vista.”
The candidates also discussed their qualifications for the role of A.S. President. Frazier said she has plenty of experience working within A.S. and would like more students to get involved.
“I really am very, very much trying to get every student to know about Associated Students and, at least, the resources that it offers,” Frazier said. “I have several plans for getting more students involved, such as a recruitment faire, as soon as I get elected … I have worked locally, nationally, statewide, on a slew of issues and I feel like I am the best representative for this campus.”
Goldschen said he would like to see more students involved in A.S. and said his experience as the Residence Halls Association President has provided him with much insight.
“I’ve been a leader on this campus for three years now and I’ve led the second largest organization this campus has,” Goldschen said. “I feel it’s more important to get everyone to realize the benefits of Associated Students.”
Lehman said his experience in organizing events in Isla Vista and his community goals would be valuable to position.
“I just want to reiterate that I feel a leader should have a creative and progressive vision,” Lehman said. “What makes Chilla Vista unique is all the new things I’m bringing in … I’m well versed in financial matters [and] I have experience writing grants.”