ASUCI Executive Candidate Debate Focuses on Budget Reform

Candidates for ASUCI executive cabinet positions engaged in a debate on April 14 in the Engineering Lecture Hall. A crowd of about 30 students, mostly friends and supporters of the candidates, were on hand to watch them discuss their views on various aspects of ASUCI.
Five of the six presidential candidates were present at the debate. They were: Carlos Feliciano, a third-year criminology, law and society major; Bryce Gilleland, a fourth-year economics major; Kenn Huber, a second-year mathematics major; Ben Ritter, a second-year English major; and Ryan Sanders, a third-year, criminology, law and society and political science double major.
Second-year psychology major Scott Mackenzie was the only presidential candidate not present at the debate.
Huber began the debate by stating his opinion of ASUCI’s current state of affairs.
‘The one thing I definitely know about ASUCI is that it’s not supposed to be doing what is supposed to be doing right now. It’s a very corrupt system,’ Huber said. ‘For instance, some of the people in office right now spend a lot of money on parties for themselves, money that could be spent on other student services.’
When the presidential candidates were discussing ASUCI’s funding to external organizations, several candidates offered different views on how the funds should be allocated.
‘I really think that external funding should be given out on a need basis to all clubs and organizations,’ Feliciano said. ‘We should try to spread it around and be fair with the way we divide up the budget.’
Sanders responded by saying that external funding could be allocated more fairly if more clubs applied for funds.
‘Only 37 out of the over 300 clubs on campus get external funding, or even think to apply to get funding,’ Sanders said. ‘We need to encourage more to apply.’
In addition, Sanders said, ‘ASUCI has great programs, but the thing is, we have to start coming up with new ideas, new benefits and services we can provide to students.’
In regard to ASUCI’s visual-media program, many of the candidates supported expanding the program, which includes the Web site that shows UCI athletics games.
‘Visual media doesn’t get a lot of money and they do what they can with it,’ Huber said. ‘I want to focus on expanding it … but we have to focus on spending the money we have more wisely’
However, Ritter focused on targeting alternative media outlets instead of visual media.
‘I prefer print media,’ Ritter said. ‘I like a lot of the alternative publications, which are severely underfunded. I think more money should be diverted to alternative media.’
The presidential candidates also proposed ideas for making the UCI administration recognize ASUCI’s presence on campus.
‘To make our voices heard, what we students need to do is come to a consensus with faculty and staff on campus,’ Gilleland said. ‘We need to know what their goals are, we need to tell them what our goals are and set a long-term plan.’
Ritter said, ‘The administration is generally working in our interest, but we have to understand that they’re underfunded. We as students need to prioritize what programs are most important and communicate to them what we need the most.’
The candidates also spoke about how to get student interests heard by the university.
‘Many of the issues that concern us are the ones on the backburner, the ones we can’t see as students,’ Gilleland said. ‘Some of the legislative council members here tonight may come up and tell you about some bill you’ve never heard of before and how it’s helped you.’
Feliciano said, ‘The ASUCI president has to be firm on what the students want, push it through, and not waver.’
Three students are running for the position of executive vice president: Zachary Avallone, a second-year international studies major; Lisha Maddox, a third-year English major; and Tye Mai, a fifth-year philosophy major. All three talked about improving elections next fall and spring.
‘I think we should really, really come down hard on the posting policy,’ Mai said. ‘It really annoys me when people post illegally, because it forces everyone else to do it, too.’
Avallone and Maddox, however, focused on improving another aspect of elections.
‘The opportunity to run for ASUCI offices should be made more known to students,’ Avallone said. ‘The EVP and the elections commissioner should take an active role in announcing it.’
Maddox said, ‘An idea I have for the entire EVP office is to have a publicity table, every week, at the same place, publicizing all the events that are going on in all the branches of ASUCI.’
The candidates for vice president of student services are fourth-year film studies major Noboru Ito and fourth-year international studies and sociology double major Nathan Lee. Both talked about their views on movie nights, concerts and events such as Wayzgoose.
‘I think that publicity could always be better for these events,’ Lee said. ‘Students can always show more interest in what happens on campus, but they need us to give them avenues to attend events.’
Meanwhile, Ito said, ‘We don’t target certain areas. I think the most important part is targeting everyone, not just one central area. If we can go out and address them, they’ll be more interested in what we do.’
For the position of vice president of administrative affairs, third-year political science major Joey Macias went up against the incumbent, third-year international studies major Raymond Giang. Both discussed the Student Fee Advisory Board and the allocation of its budget to programs. Giang emphasized the work he is currently doing as the administrative affairs executive.
‘We look at different units and we pick different units we think are crucial and need the extra funding, if it’s there. The best way we do it is by surveying students, and we’re going to send one out a survey a few weeks,’ Giang said.
Macias, however, challenged Giang’s claims.
‘It’s easy to say there will be a survey out next week … but [Giang] is emphasizing the things that we’ve had a whole year to take care of,’ Macias said. ‘So we need to open up communication with students, at the beginning of the year.’
Joel Crespo, a fourth-year Chicano/Latino studies and criminology, law and society double major is running unopposed for the position of vice president of academic affairs. In addition to supporting the existence of a multicultural-studies breadth requirement and funding for outreach programs, Crespo talked about his desire to get more students involved in academic issues, especially with the Academic Senate, the body that makes decisions on academic issues at UCI.
‘Students have a lot of power at UCI, but they don’t know how to use it,’ Crespo said. ‘The reason they don’t know how is because ASUCI hasn’t necessarily opened those lines of communication. I think one way is to make students aware of the issues coming from the Academic Senate.’
Ivan Chen, a second-year physics major who attended the event, enjoyed the debate and thought that there weren’t any clear winners.
‘I thought the event, overall, was very solid,’ Chen said.