Know Your Candidates What If They Held a Debate and No One Came?
Candidates running for the Legislative Council of the Associated Students of UC Irvine presented their campaign platforms on April 13 at Rowland Hall before an audience of two students, aside from the four current ASUCI members in attendance. Of the two students present, one was the girlfriend of a candidate and the second left approximately five minutes into the debate.
The Legislative Council is comprised of elected or appointed undergraduate students, some of whom represent their respective schools. Other ‘at-large’ representatives represent the student body as a whole.
The only candidates present at the debate were those running for seats in the schools of social sciences and humanities and the at-large positions.
The first debate was between Jeff Botwin and Michael Sene for the position of social sciences legislative council member. Both supported the Measure S shuttle initiative, but had differing views regarding the Campus Activities to Revitalize Education and Campus Events Referendum.
‘I’m not sure about C.A.R.E,’ Botwin said, ‘It’s a good cause, but I think the state should pay and not the students.’ Botwin favored the Campus Events Referendum.
On the other hand, Sene supported C.A.R.E but not the Campus Events Referendum.
‘I personally like the idea of getting bigger-name concerts,’ Sene said. ‘But I’ve spoken with many students and the majority of the campus isn’t for it. Therefore, I wouldn’t support the Campus Events Referendum if it’s not what our students want.’
The second debate was between candidates Andrew Minegar, Oracio Sanchez and Kyle Holmes, all running for the position of humanities representative.
All three candidates supported all three referenda, although Minegar noted that he would prefer that C.A.R.E be privatized.
‘I think that C.A.R.E should be funded privately rather than publicly by students,’ Minegar said.
Minegar listed as one of his strengths the fact that as a new student at UCI, he would be able to provide a fresh voice for the students.
Sanchez expressed his desire to get students involved in ASUCI events and make his presence known.
‘I didn’t know who this year’s representative was,’ Sanchez said. ‘I want students to know who I am and that I’m here to address their concerns.’
Holmes planned to bring additional guests speakers and improve different departments under humanities.
‘I would like to bring more authors and guest speakers to speak at the humanities department,’ Holmes said. ‘I also want to increase the reputation of various departments, such as literary criticism.’
The last debate was between the candidates for the position of at-large representative. The five candidates present were Jaclyn Baccaro, Ray Montazeri, Ingrid Cruz, Emily Shaaya and Max Leavey. All candidates supported all three referenda, and expressed the same general desire to increase student involvement in campus activities.
Baccaro, like all the other candidates, felt that there was a problem with low student turnout at campus events.
‘I would start a barbeque to get students aware and involved in campus activities,’ Baccaro said. ‘I think the main reason for the lack of student involvement is an issue of publicity, and I hope to find ways to address that problem.’
Candidates Montazeri and Cruz both felt that Aramark has too much power at the UCI campus
‘I would like to bring a second food company to UCI,’ Montazeri said. ‘That way it can compete with Aramark and food prices will go down.’
Cruz agreed and felt that the workers were not given proper benefits.
‘I would hope to get Aramark out of UCI since they are not treating the workers fairly,’ Cruz said.
Shaaya felt that a lack of housing for students was a problem at UCI.
‘I want to add a housing committee so that we can address the limited housing for students,’ Shaaya said. ‘Being a freshman, I also want to create events that will draw freshmen since they often say that there’s nothing to do at UCI.’
Leavey felt that the lack of student involvement at UCI was due to the little focus placed on finding ways to attract students.
‘I’d like to better [publicize] the outreach program to students,’ Leavey said. ‘People on campus don’t care about things, and I think it’s because we need to come up with creative ways to draw their attention.’
It is likely that the extremely low audience turnout at the debate was due to the fact that very few students were even aware of the event.
‘What legislative debates?’ asked Karen Shih, a second-year literary journalism major. ‘I wasn’t aware of the debates. … ASUCI could have submitted an ad in the newspaper about the debates or set a booth up a week before on Ring Road.’
Ai-Chau Hoang, a third-year biological sciences major, agreed.
‘I didn’t receive any handouts on Ring Road, so I didn’t know about it,’ Hoang said. ‘Even if I had known, I probably would not have attended it because I’m not interested. Sorry.’
Other students wanted to attend the debate, but did not know where it was being held.
‘I knew it was scheduled and I looked for postings around campus,’ said Brian Nguyen, a third-year political sciences and Asian-American studies double major. ‘There wasn’t any information that I could find. If they had better publicized the debate … perhaps more students would have taken part in it.’