Platforms on the plaza

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

Student government hopefuls kicked off the primary elections yesterday with a debate in front of a sea of red-, orange-, green- and yellow-clad students at the Marriott Library Plaza.

Students threw out questions to the presidential and vice-presidential hopefuls about campus sustainability, advising, Greek Row and student health insurance.

All parties committed to working to implement a campus-wide recycling program, an idea the U administration is currently pushing for.

Both the Forward and FUSE parties’ candidates said they would work with administrators to get the recycling program up and running. FUSE also committed to improving water consumption on campus.

Activate Party’s candidates said they would create a recycling taskforce to address campus waste issues. More 4 U said it would work with Commuter Services to build shelters for shuttle stops, which would encourage students to use public transportation.

Defending their plan to create a parking structure underneath Presidents’ Circle, More 4 U candidates said the structure would help Kingsbury Hall and Libby Gardner Hall with parking problems during performances and help students find parking, too. More 4 U presidential candidate Joe Coccimiglio said he has been working with Commuter Services on this project and would lobby at the State Legislature and Board of Trustees to get approval to build the structure.

“It’s a large goal–something that will not be done during our administration–but it will be good for the U in the future,” Coccimiglio said, adding that many students support the plan.

While More 4 U seemed to be on the defense during some of the debate, vice-presidential candidate Craig Hammond said, “We focus on our own platform.”

No party promised it would lower tuition–a power not available to the Associated Students of the University of Utah–but each party committed to lobbying at the State Legislature and increasing scholarship availability.

The Activate Party said it would not add any new student fees unless the student body consented. Forward presidential candidate Rick Pehrson said he would conduct a student fee audit to remove any unnecessary fees.

FUSE said it would instate a program called “Graduation Guarantee,” through which students would meet with advisers each semester to plan courses in order to meet graduation requirements in four years. If the student did not graduate within that time period, the administration would pick up the tab for any additional tuition.

Forward, FUSE and More 4 U said they would create a scholarship Web site, linking students to special scholarships. More 4 U also proposed that the Web site would have links to internships, student loans and FAFSA forms.

Each party expressed the importance of polling and improving ASUU’s representation of the student body. The FUSE Party, which created its platform based on a survey of 500 students, said it would continue polling students.

“We will listen to the student opinion, follow it and implement it into our policies,” said FUSE presidential candidate Spencer Pearson.

The Activate Party said it would conduct routine “scientific polls” to get a full representation of what the student body wants. Activate presidential candidate Cameron Beech also advocated his plan to create an ASUU tax service, in which students could file taxes and receive free tax consultations from the IRS through the student government.

Citing problems in the current set-up of ASUU, the Forward Party committed to remove or merge unnecessary boards from the Executive Cabinet and give the General Assembly more legislative oversight of the Executive Cabinet. The party will also create a budget process committee to better allocate ASUU’s $1.4-million budget.

All candidates said they would continue to support Greek Row. FUSE and Forward said they would encourage chapters to apply for funding as individual groups. Forward would re-instate the interchapter football league and invite a member of the Greek Council to Executive Cabinet meetings. More 4 U said its parking structure would also alleviate parking issues on Greek Row.

When asked about their views regarding universal health insurance for students, most parties said they would continue with the soft-waiver plan while investigating the costs and benefits of a hard waiver.

“I vehemently oppose any form of hard waiver unless the student body approves it,” Beech said.

Voting for the primary elections ends tonight at 10 p.m. Results will be announced tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Union Patio.

Lennie Mahler

ASUU presidential candidates Spencer Pearson and Joe Coccimiglio, of the FUSE and More 4 U parties, respectively, listen as Activate Party presidential candidate Cameron Beech responds to a question during a debate in the Marriott Library Plaza yesterday.

Lennie Mahler

Finance major James Carter asks ASUU candidates a question during a short Q&A session with the audience at the end of the debate in Marriott Library Plaza on Wednesday. Carter said he noticed the debate while passing by the library and decided to stay and listen, adding, “I was waiting for something like this to happen, actually.”