Candidates for Undergraduate Student Government president emphasized differences in their platforms and biographies in an hourlong debate Wednesday night to an audience of about 150 students in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center Forum.
The debate was moderated by Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics Director Dan Schnur, Daily Trojan News Editor Rachel Bracker and Annenberg Television News Multimedia Director Robbie Heeger.
“All three candidates were tremendous,” Schnur said. “They were prepared for all the substantive questions, they all found a way to articulate their priorities and they all showed a sense of humor when we threw a curveball at them.”
Candidates were asked which platform point mattered the most to them. Jared Ginsburg, current USG director of campus affairs, said he would want a fall break. Theo Offei, said he would advocate for a two-unit class to prepare students for graduate school entrance exams, such as the LSAT and MCAT. Mikey Geragos, current USG director of university affairs, said he wanted to improve the quality of food in residential dining facilities.
Vice presidential candidates posed one question each to a president on another ticket.
Samantha Coxe, who is running with Ginsburg, asked whether Geragos’ decision to designate a line for Troy Camp on the USG budget was because the sister of Geragos’ running mate, Vinnie Prasad, serves on the organization’s board.
Geragos said his rationale for placing Troy Camp in the line-item budget was because Troy Camp had always run out of money, and it would also leave more funding available for other organizations.
“It’s not that we are playing favorites,” Geragos said. “They have shown in the past that they have maxed out their funding.”
For his question, Prasad asked Ginsburg how he would represent all constituencies, because Ginsburg and Coxe make the only all-Greek ticket.
Ginsburg said his and Coxe’s experience with other organizations showed their diversity and he would actively work to reach out to all Trojans.
“If you look on our website, you will see details for every kind of constituency,” Ginsburg said.
Still, some students like Jennifer Lemus, a sophomore majoring in astronautical engineering, expressed concerns about Ginsburg and Coxe’s membership in the Greek community.
“The only thing that stood out to me was Jared and Sam being Greek,” Lemus said. “I feel they might give preference to Greek organizations despite what they say. I do want [a president] who represents all USC.”
Schnur said that in the four years he has been moderating the debate he had never seen a higher turnout. USG President Monish Tyagi noted a larger attendance than usual.
“The turnout was absolutely amazing,” Tyagi said. “I think this shows how people care about USG; and people are getting more invested in it.”
When asked about how some of their platform priorities would be funded, such as extending campus center hours, Offei proposed that USG fundraise rather than raise student fees. He said when he was student body president at Cabrillo College, before transferring to USC, his administration had raised $16,000 to aid Japan after the earthquake.
“USG should start putting effort into fundraising,” Offei said. “It doesn’t hurt to fundraise.”
The candidates also pointed out their differences on the addition of a fall break. Ginsburg said he would push for a fall break in October but would be open to other options, and Offei said students would prefer an extended Thanksgiving break because international students could not afford two trips home.
“I do not think giving students a fall break in October, as Mr. Ginsburg has proposed, is a good idea because some students do not live in this vicinity,” Offei said. “I think extending it during Thanksgiving break could make more sense.”
Jerry Ting, a sophomore majoring in political science, said a fall break in October would not allow students to travel home. Instead, he favors an extended winter break.
“I have friends who live in China, and it is not feasible to go back for that time,” Ting said. “Extending winter break would make more sense to me.”
For more coverage on the 2012 USG elections, click here.