By Steven Barker
In an attempt to persuade voters to support them in the upcoming Associated Students Incorporated elections, ASI candidates participated in a debate in the Multipurpose Room on Thursday, May 7.
The debate, which began outdoors but was relocated indoors due to windy weather, featured 10 candidates politicking for four of ASI’s six executive positions. Two positions, Vice President of External Affairs and Vice President of Finance, are running unopposed.
The debate began with an introduction by the two candidates for ASI President, Ricardo Perez and Mike Kwon.
Perez said his platform consists of three main goals: Promote the educational mission of California State University, Bakersfield to provide a meaningful education for students; create a healthy learning environment for underrepresented minorities and other populations; develop an ASI convenience store from which students may purchase products after other campus stores have closed.
Perez said his experience as the current vice president of external affairs gives him valuable experience in working with multiple groups of people.
“I understand the CSU system, governance and how to negotiate with others,” Perez said.
Kwon, who is the current executive vice president for ASI, said his three majors goals should he become president are to establish a food bank and plant a university garden to combat food insecurity among CSUB students, bring more communication to students about what ASI is doing through the 60 Days of Outreach initiative and improve the feeling of community among CSUB students.
Kwon added the 60 Days of Outreach initiative would be a Fall quarter project, where members of ASI talk to students in the Housing Center, their CSUB 101 classes and other areas to inform students about the resolutions and discussions ASI is having.
The Executive Vice Presidency
Four candidates introduced themselves as nominees for the position of Executive Vice President. They are sophomore Michael Gongora, senior Jennifer Sanchez, freshman Jesus Banuelos and junior Laura Castro.
Gongora said he wants to focus on improving campus pride and resolve what he calls the food issue – that is, provide healthier alternatives to food that is currently offered on campus.
Sanchez, ASI’s vice president of university affairs, said her platform consists of trying to recruit big-name music makers to campus and help plant the University Garden.
Banuelos said his campaign is centered on improving activity involvement among students, working to improve campus safety and providing more information on the quarter-to-semester change CSUB is undergoing. Were he to be elected, Banuelos said he would host events providing information on how semesters will affect students.
Castro emphasized the need to fill every vacancy in the ASI Board of Directors, encourage re-investment in student-education and improve transparency between students and their elected representatives.
Vice President of Campus Programming
Christina Swanson and Mirka Sanchez, ASI’s director of educational events and director of campus pride respectively, both campaigned with a platform of increasing the involvement of students in CSUB activities.
Swanson said she wanted to turn CSUB into a campus where students wanted to spend their free time.
“I want it to be where you want to be here on campus,” Swanson said. “I want more campus life for our students.”
Swanson said she also wants to focus on providing more community activities for students and improving ASI outreach.
Sanchez had three points on her platform; budget for larger campus events; collaborate with clubs to create more events for students; reach out to uninvolved students to get them involved on campus.
Sanchez said she would bring energy to her position were she to be elected.
“I’m passionate about making the experience more fun for students,” Sanchez said.
Vice President of University Affairs
While Anish Mohan and Joel Rodriguez both campaigned on providing new food options for students, improving campus sustainability and encouraging diversity among students, there were subtle differences in their platform to help differentiate them.
Mohan, who is ASI’s director of facilities and commercial services, said he wanted to create a CSUB app for students, where event times and schedules could be listed. Additionally, he said the app would be a great way for students to raise concerns or complaints, comments that ASI members would be able to see and quickly address.
Whereas Mohan said CSUB could provide more food vendors through the school’s contract with Aramark, Rodriguez said he would want to incorporate new food vendors on a trial basis and see which vendors students prefer.
Similarly, while Rodriguez and Mohan agreed on making CSUB more environmentally-friendly, Mohan said he would like to install more water-bottle refilling stations on campus, whereas Rodriguez said he would like more environmentally-preferred purchasing options.
Questions for Candidates for President
When asked by the moderator what difficult issues one would face as ASI president, Perez posed three specific problems: filling the Board of Directors; combating student apathy; eliminating the clique culture within ASI. To the first problem, Perez said he would help ASI search the school for student leaders who could benefit student government.
Kwon said he thought communicating to students and building camaraderie among ASI executives would prove difficult at first. To better communicate with students about the accomplishments of ASI, Kwon referenced his 60 Days of Outreach Initiative and said he would work to make everyone on ASI feel welcome.
In the rebuttal period, Perez said outreach shouldn’t be limited to 60 days. He also said Kwon had a history of withholding information from his fellow peers. Kwon retorted by saying that he has worked to help with outreach throughout the year.
Exec VP Questions
To the four Executive Vice President candidates, the following question was posed: “How do you balance friendship with responsibility?”
Gongora talked about how ASI can sometimes become a clique.
Sanchez said it was easy to balance professionalism and friendship. While in office, she said she did not count those who supported or opposed her resolutions; she instead focused on solutions for the campus.
Banuelos said responsibilities should outweigh friendships, and Castro said she has experience in balancing friendships and professional responsibilities.
Castro also issued a rebuttal to Sanchez, criticizing the latter’s willingness to prioritize planting a garden for the university during a drought.
Later, Mohan said the university is implementing a drip-irrigation system to conserve as much water as possible during the present drought.
VP of Campus Programming Question
Swanson and Sanchez both responded to the following question: “What are your thoughts on using fees to benefit specific groups of students?”
Swanson said if students wanted a group and showed interest in it, then it would be her and ASI’s responsibility to promote and host such events. She said she was willing to organize events that students showed an interest in.
Sanchez said she would promote her events as much as she could to help encourage uninvolved students to participate on campus.
VP of University Affairs Question
Mohan and Rodriguez were asked what experience they have with student leadership.
Mohan cited his current tenure as ASI’s director of facilities and commercial services has given him the opportunity to speak with students and understand their concern.
Rodriguez said his experience comes in participating in events hosted by the Psychology Club. Despite a lack of governing experience, he said he was eager for an opportunity to serve the students.