On Wednesday April 17th, ASUCM hosted the presidential debate. The candidates for ASUCM president are Salma Memon, Kenny Jackson, and Meagan Reed. This is an exciting event as it is a chance for the students to get to know more about each candidate’s platform and gives students an opportunity to ask candidates questions.
Here are the candidates with their slogans:
“Moving ASUCM into an era of advocacy”
“Heal 4 Success”
“Transparency and Campus Life Among Students”
The moderator began by letting the candidates know that they will only have two minutes to respond to each question. Each candidate was then given the opportunity to state their platform. Here are brief summaries of each platform:
Salma: Stated that this is her second year involved in ASUCM, she has recently served as ASUCM senator at large previously. This experience has really opened her eyes to what students are working on and by being able to see how governments are run on different campuses. If she gets elected, she wants to open the door for students to address campus climate. She wants to find a way to make sure that everyone has a comfortable experience on this campus.
Kenny: If elected, he plans to expand diversity in faculty and staff. He has already spoken to the chancellor about how to improve the ratio of student diversity to faculty diversity. From personal experience, he has found that connecting with faculty that have similar experiences to his own have made it easier to pursue his goals. He believes that the university, as gentrifiers, should strive to build a better relationship with the Merced community.
Megan: She is a transfer student who has previously worked with UCSA and has represented 2.1 million students, and as a result she has a lot of knowledge on what is going on at the state level. If elected, she plans to increase transparency between ASUCM and the student body. She also wants to enhance student life on campus by helping clubs promote student life.
During the debate, the moderator asked various questions regarding issues facing the students, the candidate’s past experiences, and how they would handle certain situations while in office. There were also many pressing questions asked by students in the audience on a variety of topics.
When asked what they believed was the most pressing issue students are facing at the moment, the candidate’s responses were as following:
Salma: She believes that one of the most important issues is transparency between elected officials and students because students are not aware of the resources that are provided.
Kenny: He believes that the most important issue students are facing is representation because students do not want to be just another number. He believe it is very important to increase diversity within faculty so that students can have more representation. Students need to know that they can succeed here.
Megan: She believes that there is a disconnect between administration and students. She also believes that it is important to build connections within the university.
Another important question was how each candidates would react in a situation in which administration wishes to do something opposite of what the student body wants. The responses were as follows:
Salma: She stated that she had seen this previously when working with administration in creating the intercultural hub. She believes that it is important to work with administration to represent the students to the best of her ability and to bring in student narratives into discussions with administration to bring a personal aspect to student body demands.
Kenny: He saw a situation like this in his junior college in which administration was using land for purposes that the student body and community did not approve of. He believes that it is important to see things from all perspectives in order to explain the student’s needs in a way that administration can understand.
Megan: She stated that situations like this happen all the time and in this scenario, she would represent the student body to the best of her ability. She believes it is important to remind administration that this campus was built for us and that they are here to serve us.
An interesting question asked by a student in the audience was regarding how the candidates plan to assure that the student body gets the multicultural center that we have been fighting for. Their responses are as follows:
Salma: She stated that she was recently in a videoconference with UCLA students in which they discussed the multicultural center there and how there are still improvements to be made; she stated that no multicultural center is perfect. She believes that it is essential to make administration understand the importance of this center for the students and to hold them accountable to their word.
Kenny: He believes that it is important to emphasize creating a diverse staff on campus in order to have support for our multicultural center. He also thinks that right now is the best time to advocate for a center due to the 2020 project and he will continue to fight for increased diversity and the needs of the students.
Megan: She believes that in order to get a center in the near future, we need to hold administration accountable for what they promised. If elected, she will continue to hold them accountable and work closely with UCSA to see how other campuses went about to get their centers.
This debate was truly riveting and a great space for students to voice their concerns to ASUCM presidential hopefuls. It is very important that we all play a part as part of this campus and attend these debates and weekly ASUCM meetings, 7:30pm on Wednesdays at KL 232, to be aware of the issues that are happening within our campus. You can check out the full livestream of this debate here.
Picture Credits: Ashley Ramos