ASUC Senate candidates discuss experience, goals at forum

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The ASUC Office of the Attorney General hosted its first-ever forum for senate candidates Saturday to inform the campus community of prospective senators’ platforms and goals for the 2015-16 senate term.

Not all senate candidates were present, and about a dozen members of the public were in attendance. Roughly 30 candidates were grouped together according to similar platforms. Candidates were then asked three questions about the ASUC, their prior experience or their goals, after which the public was allowed to ask one question.

At the beginning of the event, advocates for the Wellness Fee Referendum and the Solar Energy Reinvestment Referendum spoke. Afterward, candidates were questioned on topics ranging from their plans to work with administrators to their visions for how the ASUC should spend its money.

When asked which important internal ASUC issue needs to be addressed in the coming senate term, CalSERVE candidate Kyle Evanko said he wants to improve the climate on campus and within the ASUC, while candidate Diana Nguyen, also of CalSERVE, said she wants to push those in office to reach beyond party lines.

Independent candidate Matt Holtzer said the ASUC needs to focus on improving its relationship with and reaching out to the campus community.

“The ASUC has a major image issue,” Holtzer said, adding that playing a role in providing high-quality entertainment to students could improve the ASUC’s image.

When asked whether the ASUC should be more frugal or liberal in funding larger projects such as the renovation of the Cal Lodge, Student Action candidate Alexandra Wein and CalSERVE candidate Wes Adrianson, both of whom have environmental platforms, differed in their opinions. Wein said she would want to work on “cost-effective” projects that administrators will support.

Arguing that levels of funding depend on a case-by-case basis, Adrianson said he would not advocate “being fiscally conservative when I see such huge issues on this campus.”

Noting how important it is to continue funding student groups, Student Action candidate Adam Yankelevits felt it is not the ASUC’s job to “isolate any community” in terms of investment. Swan Kim, of Student Action, advocated fiscal transparency of student groups and international student tuition.

Independent candidate Eric Zhevel, however, believed it would be easier to determine how to spend ASUC funds if he knew more about the institution, which he said illustrates how necessary it is to provide more information about the ASUC to students.

In response to a question from UC Berkeley junior Nisa Dang on how to improve the “classist, racist and sexist” environment in the Greek system, both Student Action candidate Rachel Schuster and SQUELCH! candidate Ariana Shakibnia emphasized fostering dialogue, while CalSERVE candidate Wayland Fong said it was not fair to generalize the Greek community.

The ASUC elections will take place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Angel Grace Jennings covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.