The Undergraduate Student Government presidential candidates discussed several issues during Tuesday night’s presidential debate, but varied most in their views about how USG should change the way it represents and connects to students.
The debate, held in the forum room of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, was moderated by Paresh Dave, deputy editor of Neon Tommy, Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and Grace Wong, news editor of the Daily Trojan.
This year, the debate allowed vice presidential candidates to pose questions to the presidential candidates, and the presidential candidates got to pose questions to their opponents.
“The candidates know the most important issues for the elections so they can ask the deeper and more relevant questions to each other,” said Barb Solish, co-director of USG Elections and Recruitment.
Presidential candidate Monish Tyagi, who currently serves as USG director of campus affairs, said he believes USG should serve as an advocacy group to the administration.
“My job is to be the primary advocate for students,” Tyagi said. “If you look at all the student organizations on campus as spokes of a wheel, we want USG to be the center of that wheel.”
Presidential candidate Eric Burse, current president of the Black Student Assembly, said he feels USG should focus on ensuring collaboration between organizations, especially in regards to publicity of events.
“Oftentimes, we suffer from students who don’t care about what USG does or what Program Board does, and we need to change that culture,” Burse said.
Presidential candidate Alex Fadil, the executive vice president of judicial affairs of the Interfraternity Council, said he believes USG should serve as the information center for students on campus to help student organizations work together.
“The issue is communication and publicizing events properly,” he said. “We have 600 organizations on campus. We want to advocate for them and increase participation within USC.”
The candidates also took different stances on key issues such as sustainability, dining dollars and USG discretionary funds.
Fadil said he feels sustainability should be addressed by increasing hybrid car usage, and that USG should push for dining dollars to be accepted at places like The Lab.
Burse said USG should work to add recycling bins in all dorm rooms and work with nearby businesses to accept discretionary funds.
Tyagi said he believes USG should work with the Office of Sustainability and other on-campus experts to improve sustainability. He also wants to talk to businesses in Tuscany and Gateway that already have closer relationships with USG about accepting discretionary dollars.
For some students, the relationship between the candidates on each presidential ticket is important in the upcoming election.
“It is more than just the platforms,” said Dylan Steinman, a junior majoring in economics political science. “The friendship and relationship between vice president and president is super important.”
Students were impressed overall by the preparedness of the candidates and the ideas they put forward.
“The candidates did a really good job, and they were well prepared with their answers,” said Makhala Greene-Robinson, a sophomore majoring in political science.
David Lowenstein contributed to this report.
For more election coverage, check out the latest USG news here.