ASUU Candidates Clash Over Funding, Feasibility In First Debate

Students+Leading+Change+office+candidates%2C+Matt+Miller+%28left%29%2C+Jack+Bender+%28center%29%2C+and+Jessica+Patterson+%28right%29+discuss+student+affairs+at+the+ASUU+debate+at+the+Peterson+Heritage+Center+on+Monday%2C+Feb.+22%2C+2016
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ASUU Candidates Clash Over Funding, Feasibility In First Debate

Students Leading Change office candidates, Matt Miller (left), Jack Bender (center), and Jessica Patterson (right) discuss student affairs at the ASUU debate at the Peterson Heritage Center on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016

Students Leading Change office candidates, Matt Miller (left), Jack Bender (center), and Jessica Patterson (right) discuss student affairs at the ASUU debate at the Peterson Heritage Center on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016

Kiffer Creveling

Students Leading Change office candidates, Matt Miller (left), Jack Bender (center), and Jessica Patterson (right) discuss student affairs at the ASUU debate at the Peterson Heritage Center on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016

Kiffer Creveling

Kiffer Creveling

Students Leading Change office candidates, Matt Miller (left), Jack Bender (center), and Jessica Patterson (right) discuss student affairs at the ASUU debate at the Peterson Heritage Center on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016

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The first ASUU elections debate, held Monday, fostered conflict between the two parties — Students Leading Change (SLC) and ONE — over rising student fees.

SLC presidential candidate Jack Bender, a junior in film, sees this area of finance as the primary difference between the two groups’ platforms. His party promises to lower student fees, which average $533 a semester for students taking 15 credit hours, according to the party’s calculations.

“We think that’s a little excessive,” said Matt Miller, the party’s candidate for vice president of government relations.

Bender said the amount of student fees directed to athletics, in particular, is more than twice as much as the next-closest Pac-12 school.

“If you look at other Pac-12 schools, we actually have rather high student fees, especially when it comes to athletics,” he said. “We want to look at every single student fee and push that information out to the university so students can see where their money is going.”

One For All office candidates, Christina Ripley (left), Jared Seachris (center), and Callie Smith (right) discuss student affairs at the ASUU debate at the Peterson Heritage Center on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016

One For All office candidates, Christina Ripley (left), Jared Seachris (center), and Callie Smith (right) discuss student affairs at the ASUU debate at the Peterson Heritage Center on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016

ONE presidential candidate Jared Seachris, a junior in finance, spoke of “carrying the torch” started by the current ASUU administration to reallocate student fees more responsibly. He said the annual homecoming dance, for instance, receives far too much funding proportional to the attendance it receives. Re-marketing Homecoming Week events is a major component of the ONE party’s “traditions for all” platform. Seachris, too, said the point is to redistribute fees instead of reduce them.

“We know student fees are on the rise, but we also know that’s a very hard tide to turn,” he said. “I’d say our biggest difference is the attainability of our platforms within the year we’re in office.”

The candidates agreed on issues of diversity, again praising the gains made by the current administration. But audience member and ASUU Diversity Director Jesus Hernandez, a senior in political science and sociology, deemed the commitments vague and superficial.

“I was really discouraged by both parties,” Hernandez told The Daily Utah Chronicle after the debate. “The ONE party’s platform on [diversity] was completely surface-level stuff that you could copy out of the Internet. The other team didn’t even have it, so I think that speaks volume towards their actual commitment to creating inclusive and safe spaces on this campus.”

The second and final candidates’ debate, which will focus more on academic and student life issues, will be moderated by current ASUU President Ambra Jackson and Vice President Anthony Fratto at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hinckley Institute of Politics in OSH.

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@allisonoctober