The Associated Students executive office debates were held yesterday and Tuesday in front of Hepner Hall. During the debates, several candidates discussed issues related to life at San Diego State, including A.S.’ recent restructuring, the smoking and skateboarding bans and voter turnout.
The presidential and vice presidential debate, held yesterday, pitted current A.S. officers against two non-A.S. members, both of whom said students should vote for “nobody” or “none-of-the-above,” in order to protest the current election system.
Current A.S. Vice President of Finance Rob O’Keefe discussed the importance of fiscal responsibility in A.S., as well as his dedication to improving student representation in A.S. through restructuring.
“One of the big things for Associated Students is really with the students … About 20 percent of the student body is actively involved. Our challenge as executive officers is to see how to connect with the other 80 percent of the students,” O’Keefe said.
In regard to the current skateboarding ban, presidential candidate and Comedy Improv Team president, Sarah Malone, dressed in an Uncle Sam outfit, suggested adding a “skateboarding test” in order to make sure those who were in the lanes wouldn’t harm anyone.
“How it works is that if you are truly passionate about wanting to skateboard on campus, you should have to take the time to come down to the A.S. office to skate in a straight line, you should be able to do an olley and you should be able to do at least one jump,” Malone said.
Joe Stewart, who ran for A.S. president last year, said one of his main concerns regarding A.S. was how the organization has failed to truly engage with the student body in order to encourage more voting. He compared the amount of students at SDSU who vote in student elections to students at the University of California at San Diego.
“At UCSD you see flyers and banners, they actually set up voting booths around campus. They have a turnout rate of about 35 to 40 percent in their elections. We average about 11 and a half percent,” Stewart said.
In response, Vice Presidential candidate and Diversity Officer Chanelle McNutt said A.S. has done a great deal to provide opportunities for Aztecs to engage in student politics, but that doesn’t always guarantee results.
“Last year when you ran you had the message of students not caring or getting involved but in the words of my adviser Trimaine Davis, ‘If you have an observation, you have an obligation,’ I think it’s really easy to point the finger and say A.S. is not doing their job but what have you done to improve the process,” McNutt said.
On Tuesday, 10 candidates spoke in regard to three open vice presidential positions: vice president of external affairs, vice president of finance and vice president of university affairs.
Elections will be held March 16 through 19.