Proposition 8 passed and Obama won the presidency, but election season isn’t over yet. Wednesday afternoon marked an exciting start to this week‘s ASUCD Senate elections, as candidates hashed it out over budget cuts, the slate system, financial aid and number of other student-centered issues.
The debate was presented in three parts, beginning with a panelist-to-candidate question-and-answer period in which the three panelists – two from The California Aggie and one from ASUCD’s Elections Committee – questioned the candidates‘ stances on individual issues pertaining to their platform goals as well as what changes they hope to make as potential ASUCD senators.
One of the more controversial issues discussed was whether or not to disband ASUCD’s recently constructed Outreach Assembly. According to the ASUCD website, the assembly is responsible for “helping bridge the disconnect between campus clubs and ASUCD student government” by assigning 13 commissioners to attend club meetings and organize collaborative events between campus clubs and ASUCD leadership.
The assembly was criticized by several candidates, including Greg Webb, a junior political science and economics double major who called it “an inefficient use of ASUCD resources” and pointed out its high number of vacancies. Sophomore candidate Jack Zwald countered Webb and defended the program, asserting that senators should instead “look at where staff development money is going, and look to see if that’s a worthwhile cut.”
In the second portion of the debate, panelists challenged the candidates‘ knowledge of campus and city affairs by asking them to name three UC Davis vice chancellors – a question to which none raised their hands – and to name three Davis city council members – to which all of them responded.
The merits of a slate system – long a controversial aspect of ASUCD elections – sparked strong opinions on both sides of the table. The ASUCD system allows candidates to run under a “slate,” akin to political parties, which helps them by organizing the support of fellow party candidates. After the recent dissolution of the GO slate, LEAD is now the only slate within the ASUCD system, and currently holds a majority in the senate.
Those who oppose the slate system, including independents Greg Webb and Justin Patrizio, argue that the use of a slate system encourages bias and party politics and is unfair to students who don’t agree with the party platform. Supporters of the slate system such as LEAD member and current senator Andrew Bianchi, argue that it provides “institutional memory” by showing a “proven record of leadership” within the ASUCD system, as members of the slate have been represented in senate since 2000, when LEAD was first created.
After several pointed exchanges between candidates, LEAD candidate Mo Torres helped diffuse the dispute.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re LEAD or independent, if you’re on the senate you should keep the students‘ interests in mind,” he said. “I don’t want the label of LEAD or independent to get in the way of making a positive impact in the lives of students.“
The final portion of the debate was a brief audience question and answer period, where students submitted questions to specific candidates, and were rewarded with an ASUCD elections T-shirt.
The official ASUCD General Election will take place from Nov. 12 to 14. UC Davis undergraduate students can vote online at elections.ucdavis.edu.
MICHELLE IMMEL can be reached at email@example.com.