The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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ASUU Candidates Discuss Campus Safety and Student Voices in Final Debate


On Wednesday, candidates for ASUU president met for a second debate. The three parties competing for office — ACT, Precision, and Unite — answered questions about their campaign platforms, and then went on to answer questions from University of Utah students in the audience.

[/media-credit] Franco Jin, candidate for vice president of student relations with Precision, speaks at the second ASUU debate on Mar. 1, 2017.

The Precision Party’s candidates are Skyler Walker for president, Franco Jin for vice president of student relations and Polly Creveling for vice president of university relations.  Precision’s platform focuses on student wellness. They spent much of the debate emphasizing their goals of making campus a safer space for everyone, increasing parking availability and making counseling resources more accessible. To make campus a more welcoming place, Precision would host a weekly event called “Brave Spaces,” where students can have healthy discussions about tough topics. Some of the issues they hope to address include diversity and inclusion at the U.

“ASUU represents the student body, so it should reflect what the student body looks like in terms of gender, races, sexual orientation, etc.,” said Jin.

They also hope to increase transparency within the U’s administration and ASUU itself.  Precision wants ASUU to be more open with students about their actions and include more student input.  They also aim to make registering for classes easier by requiring that course syllabi to be accessible when looking through the course catalogs.

[/media-credit] ACT candidate for president of ASUU Mohan Sudabattula speaks at the second ASUU debate on Mar. 1, 2017.

Unity, Clarity and Safety are the key aspects of the ACT Party’s platform. Their candidates are Mohan Sudabattula for president, Taylor Checketts for vice president of university relations and Liz Reiss for vice president of student relations. Like Precision, ACT hopes to increase safe spaces and specifically prevent domestic and sexual violence on campus. To work toward this goal they would initiate a “Peer Allies” program, which would connect victims with people who can help them deal with issues. ACT wants to organize a conference during “It’s On Us” week to directly attack rape culture on campus and increase dialogue about ways to change it.

ACT plans to increase transparency and improve parking. Continuing the momentum of the current ASUU administration’s Get Campus Lit initiative, ACT aims to further improve lighting on campus as a safety measure.

“Students should never have to question their safety while attending school and working to better themselves,” said Sudabattula.

Hosting town hall meetings and creating a weekly video series conveying ASUU’s plans and actions to students are some of the ways ACT will increase transparency. If elected, the party would also increase the number of events on campus, like incorporating a recycling event into homecoming week at the U.

[/media-credit] Candidates from the Unite Party speak at the second ASUU debate on Mar. 1, 2017. From left to right are Zoe Kozlowski for vice president of student relations, Zach Berger for president and Saeed Shihab for vice president of student relations.

The Unite Party is led by Zach Berger, who is running for president, Saeed Shihab for vice president of student relations and Zoe Kozlowski for vice president of university relations.  This party hopes to revitalize campus events, improve campus safety and facilitate more campus involvement. In place of the two annual concerts that ASUU puts on, Unite said they plan to host one big concert so that they can afford more famous artists, giving examples like Chance the Rapper and A$AP Rocky. They also want to hold a University-wide tailgate and movie nights in Rice Eccles Stadium. Some events, however, would be solely to magnify student voices.

Unite would improve safety by increasing funding for bystander intervention training and increasing access to counseling and other resources. They also want to raise student success by creating a single, streamlined online service to direct students to jobs, clubs and internships.

Some students are concerned that none of the parties discussed environmental issues at the U. A group of students organized a sit-in at the debate to call for fossil fuel divestment and criticized the candidates for their lack of environmental awareness.

“We cannot tolerate ASUU’s silence on climate change,” said the sit-in’s Facebook event page. “Don’t vote for candidates who don’t support divestment!”

Other students were upset that aside from their goals of increasing ASUU’s diversity, none of the candidates spent time talking about issues of immigration and discrimination at the U.

All three parties urged students to vote, as ASUU elections often have a low turnout.  Some candidates made the point that those elected to leadership positions in ASUU represent only a small portion of the University of Utah’s population, and that higher voter turnout and students involvement would help fix this issue. Voting begins Friday, Mar. 3 at 7 a.m. and runs until Thursday, Mar. 9. Students can vote on their CIS page.

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