The Daily Utah Chronicle Hosts First In-Person ASUU Debate Since 2020


Xiangyao Tang

Candidates at the 2023 ASUU debate held in the Hinkley Caucus room at University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Allison Stuart, News Writer


The Hinckley Caucus room was full of students waiting to hear from their potential new ASUU executive leadership and how they plan to advocate for and support a variety of important issues to students. 

Hosted by The Daily Utah Chronicle on Monday night, the 2023 ASUU debate prepared students to vote in the executive election which begins on Feb. 21.

The election cycle began with four tickets, but the Hair ticket was forced to withdraw from the race because one ticket member pulled out of the campaign. Now, only three tickets remain.

On the Karabegovic ticket is Sven Karabegovic running for ASUU president, Alicia Baker for vice president of student relations and Abukar Hassan running as vice president of university relations. 

The VKW — Valdez, Kaur and Walia — ticket is composed of Muskan Walia as the presidential candidate, Yovanni Valdez running for vice president of student relations and Ravi Kaur for vice president of university relations.

The O’Leary ticket contains students Jack O’Leary running for president, Parker Madsen as vice president of student relations candidate and Chloe Shewell running for vice president of university relations. 

At the beginning of the debate, each ticket introduced themselves and laid down some of their basic goals and initiatives.

Karabegovic explained that the core goals of the ticket are campus safety, sustainability, community and making student voices heard more than ever. 

“The core of this university is student voices,” Karabegoivc said. “And we feel our student positions, our student government has moved away from making sure student voices are at the core of our decisions.” 

Walia reiterated the ticket’s goal of making space for students, as well as other initiatives on campus. She said their ticket is aiming to make ASUU more accessible to students, as well as using their unique identities to better serve the student body.

“Our community around us has really made space for our identities, our experiences and our ideas,” Walia said. “And so that’s our platform.”

O’Leary said if his ticket were elected, their goals would be to foster more affordability, accessibility and acceptance. He added that the aim of the ticket is to offer solutions to issues on campus and provide students with resources.

“We want everyone to feel like they belong, everyone to feel included [and] everyone to have access to the incredible amount of resources that are offered here at the U,” O’Leary said. 

Throughout the debate, candidates answered questions about campus safety, sustainability, accessibility and advocating for students. 

Shewell, who is running on the O’Leary ticket, said as a female student-athlete, campus safety is a number one priority for her. She said she would advocate for increased lighting on campus, expanding the reach of SafeRide and increasing the number of victim-survivor advocates on campus. 

Hassan, running with the Karabegovic ticket, shared their ticket intends to advocate for a three-digit number for campus security, similar to 911. 

Kaur, with the VKW ticket, said the “base problem” with safety on campus is “centered around the systemic issues of racism, misogyny and, frankly, hate.” She said some initiatives her ticket wants to bring forward are mandated wellness checks, accessibility to bus routes and working with the campus safety office. 

All tickets expressed support for creating an Asian Student Resource Center on campus, an initiative that received unanimous ASUU support last year

At the end of the debate, audience members were allowed to ask questions to the tickets. 

On the Instagram livestream of the event, someone asked the O’Leary ticket to elaborate on the multicultural center their ticket has proposed. 

“People would feel like there was a space on campus to go,” O’Leary said. “It can be a place where we can share traditions where other students who aren’t a part of those communities [can] go learn about the other communities.”

Baker, with the Karabegovic Ticket and a Black woman, said she didn’t agree with the idea of building a multicultural center on campus. 

“It’s hard hearing that as a person of color feeling that an all-white ticket is going to create a space for me where all minorities can hang out and learn,” Baker said.

She added there are already spaces on campus for marginalized students including the Black Cultural Center and LGBT Resource Center and she does not want meaning to be taken away from them. Snaps could be heard in the audience after her statement. 

U student majoring in QAMO Kenzie Crowley said she thought the debate was fantastic.

“It was awesome to hear everyone’s different opinions, what initiatives they wanted to show on campus,” Crowley said. “I was really impressed with the VKW ticket. I feel like they have an actionable plan with all of their initiatives and ideas.”

Voting for ASUU elections will open at 7 a.m. on Feb. 21 and close on Feb. 24. Winners will be announced on Feb. 25.


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