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Thursday, July 29, 2021

ASUCD Senate candidates to face off in debate

Ever wondered what happens with $10.7 million in grants and student fees each year? Ask ASUCD.

Thursday at noon in the Coffee House, nine aspiring ASUCD senators will be placed in the hot seat to assert their stance on issues such as how to prioritize ASUCD’s hefty operational budget, what senators can do to improve student life and what role UC Davis should play in the community at large.

The debate, co-sponsored by the ASUCD Elections Committee and The California Aggie, is designed to better inform student voters of the their senate candidate’s positions, as well as review the major issues currently facing the campus community.

“These debates are the one time that [potential senators] are challenged to really say what they mean, what they want and how they’re going to get things accomplished, said Molly Fluet, ASUCD vice president. “Senators have a huge effect – they can basically vote down a budget that the executive office makes, and [students] don’t realize that those are the people they’re voting for.

In the past, Senate debates have earned a reputation for resembling large partisan cheering rallies instead of open, issue-based discussions. This year, organizers of the event have made major changes to ensure a more relevant, balanced and critical debate.

“In the past the debates have attracted the core supporters of the slates and candidates, and a lot of people get blocked out,said Adam Thongsavat, ASUCD Election Committee chair, who will be moderating the event. “[This year] we want everyone who is interested to come out, including the core supporters but we’re really trying to broaden our audience.

In addition to attracting a more varied group of student supporters, the Elections Committee has chosen to extend the length of the event to better give candidates the chance to speak their mind.

“In the past, we’ve only had about 45 minutes for around 20 candidates to speak,said Andrew Bianchi, a current senator and active member of ASUCD for over three years.This time there’s nine, and we have an hour and 20 minutes, so we’ll be able to hear a lot more from the candidates.

The debate itself will be structured into three parts: a question-and-answer period between the panelists and the candidates, a mysterious middle portion which will be revealed at the event itself, and a final student-to-candidate question-and-answer period, where chosen students will be awarded with free ASUCD T-shirts.

As a co-sponsor of the event, ASUCD has chosen The Aggies editor-in-chief Richard Procter as one of three panelists to address questions for the candidates. Procter will collaborate with The Aggie campus editor Alysoun Bonde and Elections Committee events coordinator Raj Kumar to create challenging and pertinent questions to keep the senate candidates on their toes.

“We want their answers to be very honest, very direct and not so formulated,Thongsavat said.All of [the candidates] are relatively new to ASUCD, so it’ll be interesting to see where they stand on different issues.

The official ASUCD General Election will take place from Nov. 12 to 14, and UC Davis students can vote online at elections.ucdavis.edu.

MICELLE IMMEL can be reached at adbonde@ucdavis.edu.

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