No shortage of questions at sparsely attended ASU candidate forum

The upcoming elections will leave nine positions vacant, with the only contested race being for president.

By Isaac Dektor and Natalie Metcalf

Associated Student Union candidates discussed topics such as student engagement, diversity, in-person events and access to resources at Tuesday’s student government forum.

The forum had 19 participants, including two moderators and five candidates. Commissioner of political affairs Kai Haaland served as moderator alongside ASU advisor Monica Flores. Many questions were asked by forum attendee student Kaya Landingin. During the meeting, students and candidates agreed that Valley’s website needs to be updated. Candidates spoke extensively about why students need access to more resources, but how this would happen was left to participants’ imaginations.

After the trustee portion of the forum concluded, Haaland opened the discussion up to Valley’s four ASU candidates: Lauren Lucas, Ani Ramazyan, Diego Enriquez and Mia Sanchez. Lucas and Ramazyan are both running for ASU president, while Enriquez and Sanchez run unopposed for treasurer and commissioner of fine arts respectively.

Engineer-turned-economics- major Enriquez will use his experience in social justice to inform the budgeting decisions he will make as treasurer. He plans to prioritize funding for student life, saying that career events were the reason he switched his major.

“I feel like I am able to lead a good discussion in any field. I thought treasurer would be a good place for me to go,” siad Enriquez. “I do not have the most political qualifications. In high school I was a part of this magnet program called Core, we focused a lot on social justice and understanding the needs of different people.”

The forum always came back to the same priority: bringing events back onto Valley’s campus. The candidates agreed on every issue that was discussed, which may make the vote for the position of president revolve around prior experience and name recognition.

“I got into student government because I was very passionate about the students,” said Lucas. “I hope to one day pursue my dream of entering the stock market while helping others achieve financial literacy.”

Presidential candidate Ramazyan plans to create events in every academic field as she noticed that, last year, there were no events pertaining to law, which she is studying. Ramazyan also emphasized a commitment to diversity on campus.

“I will create cultural types of events which will give students an opportunity to show their cultures,” said Ramazyan.

The forum broadly discussed “the issues,” such as COVID-19 policy. When prompted by an attendee, Lucas addressed concerns regarding Valley’s official website and emphasized the importance of updating it in order to create more student engagement.

Sanchez, a freshman running unopposed for commissioner of fine arts, seemed excited about the prospect of planning events in the field that she majors in.

“I want to create events not only just for art but also to showcase diversity within the art community at Valley,” said Sanchez.

Kenneth-Alan Callahan, a Los Angeles City College student and candidate for student trustee, had the floor to himself for 30 minutes as his opponent, Matthew Bakalinski, was absent. Callahan claimed that he postponed transfer in order to run for the position of trustee. The candidate took advantage of his time in order to introduce himself to students both as a leader and as a peer, while refraining from naming his opponent who, at this point in the race, was nowhere to be seen.

“I have my own agenda and I’m going to push that agenda,” said Callahan. “As a trustee, not only am I trying to be more visible by attending these forums, but I also want to facilitate a stronger foundation for future leaders and student leaders in and outside of our district.”

If elected, Callahan plans to prioritize financial literacy while pushing for school-supplied cell phones for students in need. When asked whether the district could build student housing, the City College student said that nothing should be off the table.

“We are slowly turning into an institution that supplies students with basic human rights,” said the trustee candidate.

The elections will open April 25 and will run for the entire week. Students can cast their vote on their student portal. Nine of ASU’s positions have no one running, and last year’s election left three out of 12 positions vacant.

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