Highlights from Thursday’s ASUO Town Hall Debate
Ducks Together and United UO took questions and pushed their platform points at the ASUO Town Hall Debate in the EMU on Thursday.
Ducks Together emphasized tuition, the food pantry and transparency and took a more aggressive approach pushing its platform points. United UO highlighted safety, health, and parking.
Maria Gallegos is the presidential candidate running under Duck Together with external vice presidential candidate Ivan Chen and internal vice presidential candidate Imani Dorsey. Chen was not debating and was livestreaming the event. On the United UO slate, presidential candidate Jacob Faatz is running with vice presidential candidate Karishma Shah. ASUO Elections Board member Ram Sharma moderated the debate.
The 2018 ASUO election polls open on DuckWeb on Monday, April 9 at 9 a.m. The polls will close on Thursday, April 12, and election results will be posted on DuckWeb the same day by 6 p.m.
The administration’s decision to increase tuition has generated much debate this election season between the two candidates about effective solutions.
United UO wants to build strong relationships with UO administration and state legislators to find a solution that will satisfy students. “Without a doubt, students can count on me, as well as the rest of United UO, to make sure that tuition is not raised anymore,” Faatz said.
Gallegos said that because enrollment is down, she “doesn’t know” how to promise that tuition will not increase.
“I can work with administration, but I can also work against,” Gallegos said. “I want to be on the side of the students and make sure that we can do whatever is possible to make sure that students have a say in tuition.”
The Episcopal Campus Ministry Food Pantry on 19th Avenue has been a major topic of debate in ASUO elections.
A major plank for Ducks Together is accessibility, and Gallegos wants to secure funding for student services such as the food pantry so that these services can be accessible to all students. With the food pantry, Gallegos said that its hours are not accessible for all students.
“It’s only open two days a week,” Gallegos said. “If you had to go and do your grocery shopping at the food pantry, how would you go only for two days with only three hours in the day to do that? That’s not accessible.”
United UO wants ASUO to be able to go beyond simply being an advocacy group and make “real change,” and Faatz said that investing in these sorts of programs will improve students’ living experience.
“I think that investing in a lot of those programs … is going to be the key to making students lives better on campus,” Faatz said.
Last month’s series of robberies and assaults near campus appeared early in the ASUO debates.
United UO pushed for more lighting on campus, according to Faatz, to “make students feel safer,” and Faatz also mentioned that he thinks investing in “ways to lock classrooms from the inside to hold a violent person” is a wise investment.
Gallegos pushed back on United UO’s lighting policy, saying that campus had enough lighting and that it was an inefficient use of money.
United UO wants to make more parking available on campus, and Gallegos called having a car a “luxury.”
“The administration is ready to just increase their tuition without providing more resources like scholarships for students,” Gallegos said. “That to me is a basic necessity.”
Faatz responded, saying that parking is a necessity for some students who live far from campus.
When asked by a student how Ducks Together will advocate for students of color, Gallegos said that she has already been doing that as a senator in the ASUO Senate. “Sometimes people think it’s too aggressive,” Gallegos said, “but that’s OK. I’ll tack that onto my name.”
Shah pushed for a diversity workshop mandatory for all freshmen, as well as for town halls, aimed at LGBT students to address their questions and concerns.
On the topic of transparency, both sides emphasized making ASUO more transparent.
Ducks Together advocated for ASUO to be more approachable by the general student population.
“We’re meant to serve students and we are not gatekeepers of funds,” Gallegos said. “I want to make sure that we are accessible and easy to work with … because we’re supposed to be a catalyst for students, not a gatekeeper.”
Faatz said that because he is not in the current ASUO administration, he is able to have some different ideas about how confusing ASUO can seem to a general student.
“Trying to make sure that students know exactly what’s going on with the student government is really important,” Faatz said, “and coming from the outside is going to be a positive feature.”
In response to a question asking Ducks Together why changes had not been made in the current ASUO administration, Dorsey — who is also the State Affairs Commissioner on the ASUO executive branch — said that Ducks Together wanted to “plant seeds” for change.
“One thing I feel like this university takes advantage of is how quickly students come in and out of this university,” Dorsey said. “The work won’t end once this slate is out of office.”
Frankie Benitez and Michael Tobin contributed reporting to this story.
Correction: In print, Gallegos is quoted saying “One thing I feel like this university takes advantage of is how quickly students come in and out of this university… The work won’t end once this slate is out of office.” This was stated by Dorsey. In addition, Gallegos is quoted saying “students have the same tuition”; however, she stated that “students have a say in tuition.”
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