Candidates’ debate begins ASU’s election season

The candidates for various ASU offices reveal their platforms to the public.

By Solomon Smith, Staff Writer

The Associated Student Union introduced the candidates running for several ASU positions in a question-and-answer forum held in the Campus Center’s Fireside Room Wednesday.

Several positions have candidates running unopposed, while the most hotly-contested positions are that of president and minister of cultural affairs. Each of the candidates was given three minutes to answer the same three questions, as well as an opportunity to make an opening and closing statement. Saleem Moinuddin, current ASU commissioner of political affairs, moderated the event.

The field of candidates consisted of a wide variety of students with varied backgrounds and experiences all eager to participate in the political process on campus. Jackie Alas, running for political affairs commissioner, gave voice to the needs of disabled students on campus, while her opponent Sarah Wallace focused on tuition reduction and increasing the enrollment of foster youth. Several candidates mentioned the increase of foster youth enrollment, decreasing costs for students and the needs of mothers on campus.

Student turnout was low, with audience members chiefly being from the pool of candidates, from the ASU itself or visitors from other schools interested in the visiting school senators. Valley’s online radio station KVCM was also present.

The most contested seat is of ASU president. Four students are running for the position, each with very different ideas of what the issues on campus are and what direction to take the student body. They were also vastly different in their qualifications and experiences. Daniel Ray Natsumi-Rabaso, the current vice president, provided a long list of credentials—from participating in the political action committee to environmental programs on campus. He also noted a lack of trust between the student body, teachers and ASU.

“Many people do not trust ASU, including teachers and students,” Natsumi-Rabaso said.

Zuma Sharpe, another long time participant in activities on campus, mentioned stress as one of the main issues on campus. Her suggestions for relieving stress on campus range from puppy and massage therapy to massage therapy on campus.  She also wants to make it easier for students with children and varying backgrounds to enter into classes.

“It’s never too late to start school,” Sharpe said. “It’s never too late to start something new.”

Outreach to all groups on campus, as well as grass roots organization, was the focus for Alex Bergmans’ position, while Hovanes Tunoyan, a member of TAP, the Honors Society, and more than six clubs on campus, wanted students to feel at home at Valley.

The forum-style meeting also had visiting senators who were running for the position of student trustee. One candidate, Bryant Woodert from Los Angeles City College, pushed the goal of getting financial aid into the hands of students and reducing incidental fees charged to students.

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