The three Associated Students presidential candidates met under the same roof yesterday at a sparsely attended forum where they answered questions on topics ranging from fiscal responsibility to the controversy with the Daily Nexus that occurred earlier this year.
In front of a small audience – composed almost entirely of fellow candidates and A.S. staff members – nominees Stephanie Brower, Tuyen Nguyen and Darren Reid Frawley touted their qualifications, fielded questions and discussed topics like student fee increases and campus diversity. The candidates frequently agreed with each other at the noontime forum, held in the MultiCultural Center Theater, but differed slightly in their prospective goals and methods.
On the topic of fiscal responsibility, all the presidential nominees noted the importance of more student input and agreed that with the passage of the Students’ Initiative in the fall, A.S. needs to be more transparent about how it spends funds.
“The money of Students’ Initiative, now that it has passed, should be focused back on UCSB students,” Brower, the Open People’s Party candidate, said. “We need to revamp Finance Board rules and governing since we can now fund things we couldn’t in the past.”
Nguyen, a third-year Asian American studies major running with Students’ Party, also stressed the importance of providing ways for students to learn what their fees are being used for, including on projects she hoped to spearhead such as the creation of a KCSB media center, or a Student Initiated Outreach Program center. SIOP, which Nguyen has worked with for a year, provides funding to student groups’ outreach efforts to disadvantaged high school, junior high school and elementary school students.
“We’re creating new resources, but for that, fiscal transparency is very essential,” Nguyen said. “One other thing that needs to happen is we need to account for the expansion of A.S. We need to create more space so boards, committees and commissions can continue to serve students in the right way.”
Frawley, an independent candidate, said he would like to see more money spent on student events such as the free A.S. Tuesday night movies. The fourth-year geography major said he also wants UCSB students to approve of financial spending before A.S. makes a decision.
“I want to come up with more ideas to support students and allow them to enjoy their experience at UCSB,” Frawley said. “I want everyone to accept it before A.S. accepts it.”
Candidates also faced a question regarding A.S. Legislative Council’s attempt to freeze the Daily Nexus’ funds this past Winter Quarter. They were asked whether they agreed more with A.S. President Jared Goldschen’s veto or with the council’s move to freeze the money.
Brower, a second-year business economics major and current Residence Hall Association president, said she completely agreed with Goldschen’s veto, but that she also saw the issue as two-pronged – both a reflection of the larger issue of community members’ rights in I.V. as well as the essential need for a university free press.
“The Conquest issue reflects not only issues tenants are having, but the larger issue affecting us as community members – pushing for the just cause ordinance is the right way to go about it,” Brower said. “The Nexus boycott was absolutely unacceptable. I am a huge advocate of a free, student-run press and the decision by Leg Council to cut funding was entirely inappropriate.”
While Frawley said he agreed with Goldschen’s veto, he called for A.S. oversight over articles that pertain to official A.S. boycotts. He said if A.S. were to act as an editor over some articles, the student government could ensure that all the facts were accurate.
“The proper action would be becoming editor for external articles as A.S. sees fit,” Frawley said. “If the Nexus plans on writing an article [about something] on the boycott list, then I feel we should make sure the article is released with proper context.”
Nguyen approached the issue differently, and said that while A.S. may have taken a step too far, it prompted much-needed dialogue on campus about the responsibility of the media.
“All entities in this university need accountability,” Nguyen said. “The council and A.S. decided to take a step back since it violated the First Amendment, but it has created a new forum to talk about that accountability.”
Each candidate also used the forum to share their qualifications and overall goals.
Frawley said his experience with the Disabled Students Program and other campus organizations will allow him to best lead the campus.
“I want to take a position of leadership to be able to voice my concerns and make a change in this university,” Frawley said.
Brower noted that her platform includes fiscal accountability and giving all students a voice in on-campus government. She said her position as RHA president and her work with campus administrators have provided her with the experience needed to be A.S. president.
“I’m a passionate leader, I love this campus and I want to work really hard to make changes that will affect students,” Brower said. “My sole intent is to combine my leadership skills and my deep knowledge of the university administration and Associated Students to be your advocate.”
Nguyen said her A.S. experience as a Leg Council member a year ago, as well as her work with the SIOP and other campus organizations, has given her the skills and networks a leader needs in order to help students.
“For the past three years I’ve worked on this campus with Associated Students,” Nguyen said. “[As president,] I will work with statewide officials and on-campus administrators to keep student needs on the forefront.”
The presidential forum and future debates will be broadcast on KCSB and online at the A.S. website – www.as.ucsb.edu. Today’s forum in the MCC Theater features the candidates for Internal Vice President at 12 p.m. and the unopposed candidates for Student Advocate General and the External Vice Presidential offices at 1 p.m.