The two candidates seeking the position of external vice president of statewide affairs and the three presidential hopefuls met for the final public forum yesterday for executive officers of the Associated Students election season.

The EVPSA candidates took the floor first, speaking to about a dozen students – mostly A.S. members – assembled at the UCen Hub. The forum focused on issues such as the A.S. budget, the responsibility of the University of California Regents, lobbying efforts and student fees.

Open People’s Party candidate Corey Huber, who is currently Residence Hall Association president, said combating student apathy would require extensive work by the elected EVPSA.

“We need to make a connection with the students themselves because resources aren’t visible enough,” Huber, a second-year political science major, said. “By making a connection and finding out how students are personally invested in school issues, we can encourage them to take action.”

However, Student Voice candidate Justin Reyes, a second-year Asian American studies major, said he had more faith in the students.

“Students aren’t apathetic, every student cares about something,” Reyes said. “We have to give them a lot more credit because it’s not their fault that they don’t have all the information. We have to make sure that this information is accessible so students will be able to advocate for themselves.”

The candidates also discussed how to prioritize the A.S. budget, which Huber said should always reflect student interest.

“The most important thing is increasing funds in order to increase people power,” Huber said. “It’s not just up to me to decide what to do with the budget, it’s about what the students want and how it’s going to help them.”

Reyes also said it is important to provide students with the skills they need to advocate for themselves and agreed that he is not the sole determiner of how the money ought to be spent.

“I am not going to involve myself and say what’s going to happen in the Finance Board or Legislative Council,” Reyes said. “Instead, I am going to make sure that the money is utilized effectively. At the end of the day, our priority is the students.”

After the EVPSA forum, the three presidential candidates debated a variety of topics, from the relationship of students to the administration to protests on campus, such as the recent anti-war rally on Feb. 12.

Alessandra Baer, an independent candidate and fourth-year business economics major, said she wants to focus on creating a positive environment for protests on campus.

“I have spoken to the administration about this issue,” Baer said. “They are concerned about the safety of students, but they also think protests are important and they completely support us. A peace committee should be formed consisting of students, police officers, members of the military and scientists working together to create a peaceful nation.”

SV candidate Hassan Naveed is a fourth-year political science major and current representative-at-large. Naveed said freedom of speech and expression is essential, but that safety and security are also important.

“UCPD and IVFP should be held accountable for their actions,” Naveed said. “My parents came from Pakistan where demonstrations were stopped by the police and democracy was halted. That can’t happen here.”

Meanwhile, OPP candidate J.P. Primeau is a third-year pharmacology and business economics major who has served as rep-at-large for two years. Primeau agreed that student protests should remain safe and peaceful.

“Protest is the pinnacle of student empowerment,” Primeau said. “A.S. allowed a controversial speaker to come to UCSB last year and it also allowed organizations to protest peacefully. We have to work with all aspects to make sure our voice is peaceful, proactive and positive.”

Students will be able to vote for all candidates by logging onto GOLD beginning at 8 a.m. on April 21 and ending at 4 p.m. on April 24.