The Associated Students presidential candidates squared off in their final forum before next week’s election Tuesday.
The three students up for the position spent an hour in the UCen Hub expressing their views on a number of controversial topics on campus such as Fight Night, Floatopia and academic changes. During the debate, presidential contenders Paulina Abustan of Student Voice!, Daniel Plotkin of Students With a Plan and Charlie Arreola of the Open People’s Party responded to a series of moderated questions and then were given an opportunity to address each other’s responses.
Students will be able to cast their ballots in the spring election by logging onto GOLD from April 20 to 23.
One of the major points of debate focused on the situation with the recently terminated PIKE Fight Night. The presidential candidates were asked for their views on Fight Night, its removal from PIKE’s stewardship and its ultimate cancelation.
According to Abustan, the allegations against Fight Night’s original sponsors PIKE regarding last month’s assault of UCSB students Thanh Hong and Paul Elekes warranted the actions taken.
“Organizations that perpetuate hate and violence should be held accountable,” Abustan said. “Our university should take a stance against hate crimes.”
However, Arreola said in response that the association between the assault and the PIKE fraternity and any events that it should sponsor is unfair.
“We should not marginalize a group due to one person’s actions,” Arreola said, “[This individual’s actions] is not representative of PIKE or our community.”
Arreola also pointed out that the charity Fight Night was to raise funds for – Primo Boxing’s “Say Yes to Kids” program – has done a lot of good by providing after school programs for at-risk children.
The presidential candidates also tackled the issue of Floatopia and what their plan of action would be during their term in office.
All candidates stated they were firmly against any ban of the event and expressed interest in increasing safety and cleanliness.
Plotkin, in particular, expressed an interest in having the external vice president of local affairs office run a safety campaign for Floatopia similar to the one already done for Halloween.
Abustan said she wanted to explore possible environmental education opportunities that Floatopia might present.
“During the week of Floatopia, I hope to launch environmental campaigns educating more students to become involved with sustainable recycling practices that preserve our coast,” Abustan said, “I want to make sure Floatopia does not generate pollution and trash on our coast.”
Finally, the presidential candidates discussed the possibility a future environmental studies general education requirement. While Abustan was for the requirement, citing it as a vital step toward environmental awareness, the other two candidates spoke out against it.
Plotkin said that while the intentions behind adding the GE may be well founded, the current financial situation of UCSB as well as other policies already increasing academic requirements makes this an inopportune time to raise requirements yet again.
“I’m against adding an environmental studies GE while the university is losing money, has classes unavailable and is expecting students to fulfill the MCP requirement,” Plotkin said. “Given the undue pressure it adds to students trying to graduate, it would be irresponsible to do so at this time.”