Associated Students presidential candidates Sophia Armen and Nate Walter debated inside the Hub yesterday, discussing student government’s accessibility to the larger student body and relations between campus and UC administration.
The contenders covered issues from UC-wide budget cuts to management of Isla Vista Halloween and the recent UCOP tax. Open People’s Party (OPP) candidate Walter is the first pro tempore of Legislative Council — serving as second-in-command to the Internal Vice President — and a third-year philosophy major. Armen, running with the Democratic Process Party (DPP) is a third-year global studies major and currently serves as chair of Human Rights Board and co-chair of Womyn’s Commission but dropped a seat she held on Legislative Council earlier this year.
Armen primarily emphasized a complete reform of the association’s governing style to incorporate a broader range of student demographics. Walter, however, said A.S. can make itself more open through less drastic means.
According to Armen, the organization’s future depends on whether its leadership plays a greater role on campus and within the communities in Santa Barbara County.
“We need to go out and ask students what they want. I hear a lot about student apathy and that’s not what it’s about,” Armen said. “The students are not to blame — their representatives are not talking about what affects them. We need to start opening this dialogue.”
However, Walter said students would respond more positively not to radical structural changes in student government but the breaking down of these barriers.
“There is a big disparity between the association and the student climate,” Walter said. “I want to represent rational arguments, rational premises. I have very rational objectives; I have my priorities straight and I’m ready to work hard.”
Armen said she would guide the student body away from traditional UC leadership if elected.
“President Yudof is inaccessible. He shuts down meetings and doesn’t allow for comments. The UC Regents are not democratically elected — they are appointed by the governor. They are his campaign friends; they are increasing your fees. As one of the students who were there on the front lines, I want to create a coalition, write letters. We will mobilize if that’s what we have to do.”
Walter said he would serve with a focus on rationality and adopt a levelheaded approach to running the student body.
“I want to continue to equally represent everyone on this campus and fight for their rights by having the lobbying power behind me anytime I go into a meeting to present my rational arguments,” Walter said.
In discussion on the UC Regents implementing a tax on campus revenues, Armen said the figures are not representative of students’ needs and advocated student action against the administrative mandate.
“UCOP tax — no, no, no. Shame,” Armen said. “This is literally a fourth tax on students; we already pay tuition and fees.”
Walter said it would be more efficient to enact a campus-based approach that focuses primarily assuring the needs of student government are met.
“I definitely want to call for an audit and investigate the Office of the President; we need to hold the UCOP accountable for their actions. It is inexcusable to take more money from the students,” Walter said. “We need to work with the chancellor [and] take negotiations to get through this, in order to mitigate the harmful effects that this is going to have on the association.”