On Thursday, University of Utah students and faculty gathered in the Union West Ballroom to hear the first debate between candidates for president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU). The parties hoping to secure the presidency are ACT, Precision and UNITE. Approximately 55 people attended, all interested in the changes each party would make next year.
Each candidate addressed many topics, some of which were followed by friendly rebuttals. Speakers primarily focused on diversity, student voices, finances, student fees and safety.
All three parties agreed that the next administration should focus on listening to and developing relationships with students. “We want students to feel the U of U is home away from home, and I will devote every day to help make that possible,” said Saeed Shihab, the candidate for Vice President of Student Relations with UNITE.
Skyler Walker, the candidate for Student Body President with Precision, said he wants to address the concerns of all student voices and ensure that every change in policy represents students’ interests rather than his own.
“I want students who feel oppressed to feel that the U of U is there for them,” Walker said.
Precision isn’t the only party that wants to combat oppression at the U. Every party discussed how they would bring diverse perspectives to the table.
“We don’t just acknowledge that diversity exists, but we want to take pride in it,” said Mohan Sudabattula, the candidate for Student Body President with ACT.
Sudabattula acknowledged that ASUU has always had their doors open to students, but said that there isn’t a personal connection, so not all students are comfortable making their voices heard. He said that rather than having student groups or individuals come to them, they as a party want to reach out to students to bridge any gaps and facilitate communication.
Serene Kergaye, a student at the U, was pleased with the direction of the debate.
“It was a great outcome,” Kergaye said. “All candidates hit on including students on campus as well as in improving wellness. It was great to see and hear all three platforms hit that.”
The second debate is Wednesday, March 1 at 6 p.m. in the Peterson Heritage Commons. Voting opens March 3 and continues until March 9. Students can vote and access the polls on Campus Information Services under the ASUU Voting tab. ASUU will post results on Friday, March 10 on their website.