The ASU debate was off to a slow start as candidates answered questions and spoke in an empty room.
By Tate Coan and Solomon Smith, Online Editor and Managing Editor
An audience was missing at the ASU election debate on Wednesday, as were a few candidates.
As debaters prepared to speak and take questions from the Election Committee, who regulated the debate, it was soon apparent that no one would be coming to hear them. Situated on the second floor of the Student Union Building. Chairman of the election committee and vice president of the ASU, Sebastian Diaz, lead and announced the rules.
Valley College has had problems getting people to vote and show up to ASU events on campus, including the clubs, who were conspicuously absent. When asked why, many clubs were not even aware of the debates.
“We just found out today,” said a student from the Gender and Sexuality Alliance club.
They were not the only club that seemed unaware of the event. Young Democratic Socialists club members were also not made aware of what was occuring. An anonymous member of another club commented on the lack of communication.
“I didn’t even know about it until my president posted a post from instagram today,” he said. “There’s a lack of communication with the clubs and we can’t find out why.”
As for the candidates who did not show, some had sent emails ahead of time letting ASU know they would be unable to attend. Alejandra Baron, running for commissioner of public health and safety, sent an email explaining her absence.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend the ASU debate this past week, unfortunately I was gone at a hispanic empowering (ASHIE) conference from LAVC’s PASO program,” wrote Baron. “I’m currently a mentor at the PASO office and was invited to attend the event that lasted Sunday-Wednesday.”
Beginning with general questions, each candidate described the roles and responsibilities they were vying for. The Election Committee then moved on to specific questions for each position. A common theme among the candidates were the perceived failures of the ASU to communicate with the student body and to effectively work with the clubs on campus.
“We have an awareness issue about resources and I want to make sure that is all compiled into one place,” said Elijah Rodriguez, an ASU presidential hopeful and the commissioner of publicity.
Another concept common to many of the platforms was the idea that the ASU needed to be more visually represented on campus. Branding (like jackets and a new logo) to make the ASU a more visual component of campus life has been on the ASU’s agenda for the last two years.
Some of the candidates showed their character as well as their skills in their responses. While many candidates noted their experience and leadership abilities, Jose Romo, an ASU member and commissioner of student life candidate, decided to attempt a Jimmy Carter impression — it was not well received.
The debate itself was not much of a debate. There was no back and forth between candidates and no contrast apparent between Romo and his fellow ASU member Maricela Garcia who are running for the same position.
“We don’t have any conflict ... we like to work together,” said Garcia. “Yea, we’re not sore losers … there’s no competition,” Romo agreed.
This year candidates are using methods from more formal campaigns by pooling their appeal to reach voters; some candidates have chosen to run on the same ticket. Business major Ani Apikyan, 17, is running for vice president alongside art history major Angela Darpinan — seeking reelection as commissioner of fine arts — and physics major Evelyn Soriano, who is running for commissioner of health and safety concerns.
Soriano criticized the handling of a threat made on campus last month when alarming remarks were found scrawled on a bathroom wall. Some believe that the situation was mishandled by authorities and school officials.
“There was a student out there that felt broken and hurt enough to make a threat like that and so I think, for those situations, it would be a communication [issue] ... A lot of the students weren’t aware of that threat until the night before and then on top of that the authorities and everyone else that were involved with that [knew] about the threat since January. That was a three month gap.”
Approximately 325 people voted in the last election, out of 18,000 eligible student voters, according to Student Ambassador Ryan Easland. The ASU is hoping for a better turn out this time around.
Voting will be online through a link in student emails between April 22 and 29. In-person voting will take place on April 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Monarch Hall.