On Monday April 15, candidates for the Associated Student Government faced off in the first debate for electing representatives for the 2013-2014 academic year. Potential ASG representatives gathered in the Bellevue College cafeteria to debate important issues that candidates will face during their term if elected.
For many candidates, the keystone of the presentation was to emphasize that more students need to be involved in Student Programs and in the solutions of problems on campus. Moderating the debate was Erin Hoffman, the News Editor of The Watchdog. Battling the noise and disruption in the cafeteria, the candidates responded to Hoffman’s questions.
Ali Collucci, Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Queer and Questioning Resource Center said: “It gives the people who are voting an opportunity to see how the candidates answer questions, how they are at public speaking,and essentially how the candidates hold themselves in the public eye.” Collucci, who was one of few students who watched the entire debate, found it effective. “It definitely solidified who I am and who I am not going to vote for.”
Candidates for the for 10 different leadership roles debated with each other about important issues on campus. Candidates had one minute to introduce themselves and then 90 seconds to answer two follow up questions. Remaining time was given to the moderator.
Kristin Velez and Kamelpreet Sahota are competing for the responsibility of Chief Justice. Both students have a background in legislation. Velez, the current director of the Office of Student Legislative Affairs, lives in Olympia to fulfill her duties. Sahota recalled deciphering the specifications for Amnesty International’s Dream Act.
To elaborate on the challenges of applying laws and policies at BC, Sahota said, “Transparency is about taking yourself out of the picture and listening to others. My personal objectives won’t be involved at all. It’s more about representing what you guys want.” To increase student empowerment, Velez intends to “work with various student programs to increase student empowerment, awareness and participation on campus through things such as tabling and events.”
Next to present were Leslie Mayo and Yansy Pereira for the position of Vice President of Finance and Communications. If elected for this office, they will have to play a leading role in integrating money management with an effective communication model. “I want to help people get grants for residency and increase funding for international students here,” said Pereira in regards to her philosophy on government spending.
Mayo also clarified what she would bring to the table in this position. When reflecting on managing a phone store, she said, “I have experience with budget planning, fundraising, communications and talking to our providers and carriers so that business owners and interested people have to come through me.”
At the debate, Andrea Torres presented without her opponent, Kevin Wu, who did not show up for the debate. Torres clarified her intentions for the position of Vice President of Student Affairs and Pluralism if elected. “I’ve been working with the administration to make education more cultural and accessible to students. My main goal is to work with the administration on their ‘open door policy’ to make sure that students have accessible education. Not only financial assistance, but support and help,” said Torres. When asked which issue is the most pressing on campus, she responded, “we already have a diverse campus, but I am going to make sure that all of you are heard.”
The last speakers were Cameron Jones and Zawdie Stephens-Terry, who are running for president, and gave their ideas about how to help create change at BC. When introducing himself, Jones stated, “One thing you want to know about me is that I am very passionate about making a difference.”
Both candidates were asked to indicate the most pressing issue facing students, and both were in agreement that culture on campus and college expenses were facets they would like to focus on.
Terry said, “I believe that the purpose of student government is to represent the students and make sure your voice is heard. There are a lot of student programs that we want you to be involved in.”
When addressing the purpose of student government, Jones clarified that “We are the ‘middle man’ between you and administration. We work with legislators to make sure that your voice is heard.” Terry further elaborated on this point by saying, “We want to make sure that you have a voice that’s heard. That what you want, you get and what you need, you have.”
Kevin Tu, Chief Justice of ASG, gave his perspective about the importance of the debate: “The debate speeches are important for the people in Student Programs mainly because most of the students here on campus don’t really care about what is going on in student life and are not really involved. We are such a small campus in comparison to other universities, we don’t have that big name out there, but we do have a large enough student body to cover it.”
Tu explained that the debate was designed for students who aren’t sure who is running for what position and to give them a chance to hear why they should be elected. “I believe that the debate speech, with the questions that were delivered from The Watchdog, were effective and very important because it gives us an idea of what sort of challenges ASG will have on their hands next year.”