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ASUA presidential candidates offer backgrounds, perspectives on familiar problems

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

Candidates Stefano Saltalamacchia and Matt Lubisich during the ASUA Presidential Debate on Monday, Feb. 27.

Matt Lubisich and Stefano Saltalamacchia attempted to sway student votes by both discussing their unique qualifications  at a debate for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona presidency, Monday Feb. 27.

The debate was moderated by a panel of five individuals from the university: Sam Gross, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Wildcat, Jude Udeozor, GPSC President, Michael Finnegan, current ASUA President, Melinda Burke, President of the Alumni Association and Kendal Washington White, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs.

Lubisich focused on his involvement and experience in ASUA since he started in his freshman year. During campaigns for his two senate elections, he promised to promote sexual assault awareness and shine a light on rape culture on campus.

“I have been able to orient myself with the services and programs as well as inner workings of ASUA,” Lubisich said. “I worked with over 20 different programs at this university to make the I Will campaign a success.”

RELATED: ASUA VP debates focus on inclusiveness, diversity

He plans to continue his efforts, if elected president, and ensure the week-long event continues in the future.

Saltalamacchia, an ASUA senator elected in the last by-election, stressed his past experience serving as student body president for the 18,000 students of his California community college and representing over a million Californian students at the state capitol in a campaign to oppose budget cuts.

“I desire that every student will be able to experience our institution in a way that is conducive to their individual needs,” Saltalamacchia said.

His platform involves expanding access to mental health services, increasing affordable access to healthy food and making sure marginalized students' voices are heard on campus.

Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

Candidate Stefano Saltalamacchia chuckles during the ASUA Presidential Debates on Monday, Feb. 27. Saltalamacchia answered the question "What would be your theme song, if you are elected?" with Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time".

Both candidates want to lobby the state legislature to keep tuition and fee increases low in order to make the university more affordable. The candidates were asked how they plan to implement their platforms without increasing fees.

Saltalamacchia suggested forming partnerships within and around the UA community to help implement new programs.

“We need to see what partnerships we can make on campus so we can do some of the creative programing we want to do,” Saltalamacchia said.

Specifically, Saltalamacchia mentioned partnering with the University Arizona Alumni Association and Scholarship and Financial Aid Office in order to help fund his planned programs.

Lubisich focused on more internal aspects of the budget and how ASUA could operate differently to mitigate costs.

RELATED: Campus PAC targets ASUA presidential candidate Matt Lubisich in campaign ads

“It starts with the ASUA budget,” Lubisich said. “We need to allocate funds as efficiently as possible and then we need to take the fight to administrators.”

Lubisich pointed to the I Will campaign receiving funding from the administration without increasing fees or overspending in ASUA as an example.

Burke, said ASUA elections have an embarrassingly low turnout of only 10 percent of the student body, and asked the candidates their plan to increase student engagement.

“Right now the student body is apathetic to taking part in ASUA elections and the only way we are going to change that is providing access, not limiting people from running for office,” Saltalamacchia said.

At 27 years old, Saltalamacchia is  a nontraditional student, let alone ASUA candidate. He believes he represents the new ideas  ASUA needs to increase student involvement in the organization.

Lubisich believes the more students vote, the more inclusive and diverse ASUA will become.

Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

Candidate Matt Lubisich during the ASUA Presidential Debates on Monday, Feb. 27. 

"We need to be going out into the community and educating people that they can vote and their voice matters,” Lubisich said.

Both candidates vowed to incorporate the list of demands provided ASUA by the Marginalized Students of the University of Arizona.

Saltalamacchia helped compile the list and feels he is in the best position to implement beneficial policies for marginalized groups on campus. Lubisich admitted he does not know every issue but plans to reach out to communities on campus to help address their concerns.

Students will be able to vote for the presidential candidate, candidates for the administrative and executive vice-president positions and senate seats on Feb. 28 and March 1. Results will be announced March 2 at 7 p.m. in the Santa Rita Room.


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