The Associated Students forum conducted yesterday gave candidates in the upcoming election an opportunity to advertise and defend themselves – even those running unopposed.
The event took place at noon in the MultiCultural Center Theater before an audience of 20 students, comprised mostly of A.S. members. Topics of debate and discussion included Students’ Initiative, the UC Regents’ recent fee hike, the gentrification of Isla Vista and student apathy.
First to speak were the two competitors up for internal vice president. They were followed by presentations by three unopposed candidates up for the roles of external vice president of local affairs, external vice president of statewide affairs, and student advocate general.
Each speaker was allotted both a 2-minute opening and closing statement, along with an opportunity to field audience questions.
When the competitors in the race for internal vice president were asked how they would solve the problems posed by defunct committees and sparsely attended board meetings, both candidates cited increased training and recruitment of younger students as solutions.
Second-year linguistics major Ian Taylor, running with Open People’s Party and currently serving as an on-campus representative for A.S. Legislative Council, said he could provide the initial contact with incoming students.
“We need to provide opportunities early on to incoming students,” Taylor said. “I have faith in these students and our leaders – they just need the tools and the training. I will do this.”
The Student’s Party’s internal vice president hopeful is current Leg Council off-campus representative, and second-year law & society, philosophy and mathematics major Matthew Jackson. He said a failure to implement peer-to-peer transition training was responsible for the current situation.
“We need transition training, we need to transfer our education to new Leg [Council] members,” Jackson said. “We need to fill all chairs and committees A.S. has to offer; an Academic Fair can provide information for those first-year students or those fearful to approach leadership.”
A question concerning the management and oversight methods the candidates would implement for Students’ Initiative funds also arose during the forum.
Taylor again emphasized the importance of educating incoming students on the direct impact of the Students’ Initiative, as well about the ability they have to affect the distribution of funds.
“We need to explain to [incoming students] that a lot of their money goes to Students’ Initiative, and that a lot of money goes to these programs. There are procedures in place but people don’t know about them,” Taylor said.
When asked to identify the most prominent issue on the UCSB campus, Taylor said student apathy was the biggest problem facing A.S.
In the second portion of the forum, unopposed Student’s Party candidate and second-year global studies major Lindsey Quock, who is running for external vice president of local affairs, addressed the actions of Conquest Housing in context of the gentrification of Isla Vista.
“Conquest evicted fifty plus families,” Quock said. “These long-term low-income residents are being kicked out to accommodate wealthy university students; I think there is room for both.”
Responding to a question regarding the UC Regents’ recent 7 percent undergraduate fee hike, third-year communication and physical anthropology major Christine Byon of the Student’s Party, who is running for external vice president of statewide affairs, said that she would work to stop student fee hikes through continued activism and protesting.
“I plan to continue to mobilize students, to rally and get voices heard. I was actually at the UCLA regents meeting and [our protesters] actually pressured some regents to vote no; it was not a unanimous decision,” Byon said. “We have the power and they are supposed to be accountable to us. We mainly need to rally to have our voices heard.”
Third-year law & society major Mark Regus, an independent running unopposed for the position of student advocate general, said his chief goal was to represent students regardless of administrative opposition. The advocate general heads the Office of the Student Advocate, an A.S. entity that provides assistance and support for students in university legal matters.
“My goal is to advocate student rights, even if it means butting heads with administration,” Regus said.