ASUA presidential hopefuls talk big issues

With the polls opening for primary elections on Tuesday, the three candidates for president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona sat down with the _Daily Wildcat to discuss their stances on issues and explain why they should be ASUA president. Following the primary elections, the field will be narrowed to two candidates._

Daily Wildcat: What’s your stance on the 2.5 percent convenience fee added for Bursar’s payments?

Taylor Ashton: What frustrates me the most is that the students weren’t consulted. These are the kinds of conversations that student voice needs to be in on. This is a prime example of why we need to be doing that. One of my big goals is developing those relationships … with the administration.

Issac Ortega: I think there is a lot of confusion going around the fee. I think that people automatically assume that 2.5 percent fee increase is bad. The explanation [the Bursar’s Office] gave is very broad, and I don’t think it’s necessarily right to put this cost on students’ shoulder to pay this increasing cost. I think that if you’re charging students more, then you should have some tangible way to show for it. It doesn’t really hold the university operations accountable.

Ahva Sadeghi: I think that it’s a bit ridiculous. There’s already a petition out, and I definitely support that petition against the convenience fee. Students paying their tuition shouldn’t be charged a convenience fee. You’re already paying your tuition.

Should a smoking ban be implemented on the UA campus?

TA: I would support what the students as a whole support. Personally, I think [the ban] would be fine. Based on the polling, I think there has been a pretty good response in agreement with the ban. If the issue does come up again, and I think it will, then we’re going to have to capture how students are feeling.

IO: ASUA’s sole responsibility is to echo the student voice. Personally, I’ve been affected by tobacco usage. I have family members with emphysema and who have been affected by tobacco usage. On my personal experiences, I would like to support a tobacco ban, but it is about representing the students and what they believe. I think that a lot of statistics show that a majority would like a tobacco ban.

AS: I am definitely strongly in support of [the ban]. My father is a radiation oncologist and he does cancer research. … I know how harmful smoking can be, especially secondhand smoke. I think that’s an important initiative and [Stephanie Kha, Student Health Advocacy Committee director,] expressed that there is a really strong backing for it.

Should the Graduate and Professional Student Council be the sole representative of graduate students?

TA: I definitely understand where they’re coming from. I’ve worked really closely with [GPSC President] Zach Brooks this year, and I know that graduate students are facing different issues than we are. My two main concerns are, first, that our main mission is to serve, engage and empower all students, and I hold true to that. The second one is what I think has been missing from the dialogue is the fact that there’s undergraduate students that are fitting the mold of a graduate student. Instead of creating that major split, I think collaboration is the better way to go.

IO: I don’t think that GPSC being the sole representative of graduate students alone would be a good thing. I think the way to solve [representation issues] is not division, but more collaboration. We need more communication and figure [out] what it is that graduate students need so we can merge the message together.

AS: I think that is very important. Although I think that graduate students and undergraduates should be involved together, I do think they are their own component. Graduate students come from different parts of the U.S. and the world. They have different interest rates and different policies that affect them. It’s imperative that [ASUA and GPSC] be two different mechanisms that work together. Graduate students need to be engaged, but their powers and authority need to be established separately. So, they should be separate identities.

Why do you think you should be ASUA president?

TA: On top of that passion for the U of A, I’ve got the experiences and the qualifications — and the institutional knowledge of [how] our student government runs and how our administration is running and of the big issues facing U of A students to do a good job. You can’t walk in just not knowing how it’s going. You just have to know.

IO: I’ve never had the easy path to college. My parents never went to college, but they knew that was the one thing I was going to do different from them. They were so proud when my acceptance letter came in the mail. The ability to face all that adversity and just being here [at the UA] is an accomplishment. I definitely don’t take this for granted, so if I get the opportunity, I won’t waste it.

AS: I have a strong professional edge to represent our university as far as all the internships I’ve had. Also, the fact that I’m not within ASUA, but I am definitely one with the university through all the clubs that I’ve started. So, I think that I can bring in new ideas and a lot of experience.

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