The second and third debates for elections for the 86th session of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, were held Monday, Feb. 26 and Tuesday, Feb. 27, respectively as students prepare to vote later in March.
The second debate held on Monday featured candidates from the Division of Health Science, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Engineering. The third debate featured candidates from the Reynolds School of Journalism and the College of Science. There are no candidates running for the college of the Interdisciplinary program, which was supposed to be featured in the third debate.
During the debates, each candidate will answer the same two predetermined questions from the ASUN elections chair and two questions from the audience. Two minutes are given to each candidate and each will be given an additional minute to provide a rebuttal to their opponents’ answers.
The first debate of the week was for the Division of Health Science. There are four candidates running for the college’s three seats — Vanessa Amaya, Claudia Feli, John Loveland and William Schab.
The candidates were asked from the ASUN elections chair was “How do you plan on using your background as a Division of Health Science major to improve the mental and physical health of students on campus?”
Feli responded by saying that she has taken many classes specific to these issues and will spread her knowledge to her constituents. Loveland and Schab emphasized the importance of physical and mental health and promoting the free resources that are offered to students at the Wiegand Fitness Center and Family Health Center. In addition to promoting campus resources, Amaya said that she will be actively involved with her peers.
The following debate was for the College of Engineering. There are five candidates running for the college’s three Senate seats — Demitri Bannoura, Savannah Hughes, Mailynn Santacruz, Emily Sewell and Dillon Wilcox.
The candidates were asked, “ASUN Senate can be seen as intimidating to the average student, how do you plan on getting more students input on issues you are discussing?”
Bannoura was the first to respond by saying that he wanted to increase student voice on campus by creating more opportunities, such as surveys, to voice their feedback and that speaking directly with campus clubs and organizations is vital. Santacruz, Hughes, and Wilcox also agreed that senators need to meet directly with students in order to find out exactly the needs of students on campus. Both candidates also mentioned that social media is a powerful tool to connect with students. Sewell said that she believes that students are not informed rather than intimidated by ASUN. Thus, Sewell plans to reach out to students and encourage them to get involved on campus.
The last debate of the night was for the College of Liberal Arts. There are eight candidates running for the college’s four Senate seats — Kenneth Heinlein, Anthony Martinez, Natasia Mata, Andrew McKinney, Orrin Page, Irshad Tabani, April Wilday and Victoria Yeghiayan.
The candidates were asked, “In the current political climate, some would say that the First Amendment is misunderstood. What is your take on that and how would you encourage constituents in your college to use their First Amendment right of free speech?”
Heinlein answered first by saying that students can use their right to freedom of speech to express their thoughts of their college to the senator. Heinlein hopes to create more opportunities for the student body so that their first amendment right is used. Martinez and Mata emphasized the resources for speech available at UNR and want to remind students that they have the ability and power to make change by exercising their right. McKinney, Page, Yeghiayan, and Tabani focused on the events that occurred on campus relating to diversity and want to encourage students to speak at Senate meetings. Lastly, Wilday said she would like to exercise her First Amendment right and reach out to students as mentioned in the College of Engineering debate.
The Reynolds School of Journalism kicked off the third debate of the week with two candidates running for the college’s one seat in Senate — Mika Alvarez and Zachariah Simms.
The candidates were asked a question from the audience, “As stated during this debate, many students do not know who their representative is. As a senator, how do you plan on solving this issue?”
Simms said that he would like to hold meetings weekly where students can come in and talk to him personally. He would also like to reach out and visit classes in order to interact with students. Alvarez said she agrees with Simms when it comes to visiting classes and would also like to be at orientation and begin student outreach early to sustain retention. Simms refuted Alvarez’s comment by saying that not everyone has time during the summer and Nevada Fit would be a more effective approach. Alvarez responded by saying she disagreed with Simms and that there are only a small number of students that actually attend NevadaFIT compared to orientation.
The last debate of the night was for the College of Science. There are five candidates running for the college’s three Senate seats — Gabriel Burgos, Troy Clemons, Hayley Collins, Zachary Green and Jenny Purdue.
The facilitator asked the candidates, “If you were only given the resources to solve one of the university’s problems, what would it be?”
Burgos and Green said that he would like to solve the problem of increasing the level of involvement on campus. Clemons said he would solve the issue of the ASUN senators’ relationship with the students within their colleges. Collins said she would like to improve the retention rate at the campus by requiring students to take NevadaFIT for their college. Purdue said that she hopes to increase diversity within the College of Science as her goal is to increase the participation of women in S.T.E.M. while increasing the voice of more students in order to create networking opportunities for students.
For a full video of these debates, a link to ASUN’s live stream can be found on ASUN social media.
Karolina Rivas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.