The Undergraduate Student Government presidential and vice presidential candidates squared off Wednesday night in a debate held in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
Covering everything from cultural diversity to dining options on campus, the candidates vied for votes of the approximately 150 students in attendance.
Opening remarks focused on candidate platforms as well as their hopes for both USG and USC.
“We want student priorities to be top administrative priorities,” said Logan Heley, a junior presidential candidate.
Candidates also took the opportunity to introduce themselves, and explain why they felt they were most qualified for the position.
“We are passionate, we are qualified, we are authentic and, most importantly, we are balanced,” said Rini Sampath of her and her ticket’s platform.
The presidential debate, moderated by Professor Peter Robertson of the Sol Price School of Public Policy, began with a discussion of health and affordability of dining options on campus, but moved onto quickly more controversial issues.
The discussion took on a grave tone as candidates confronted issues surrounding diversity and safety on campus.
“Cultural awareness at USC is definitely an issue and it goes beyond the students,” said James White, a junior presidential candidate.
White believed there was room for improvement in campus diversity.
“I should not have to listen to a professor ask me if I was marching or protesting on Martin Luther King Day just because I am black,” White said.
The candidates made multiple suggestions to combat this issue, from a weeklong multicultural fair to increasing funding for on-campus diversity groups such as the Queer and Allied Student Assembly.
Sexual assault and harassment dominated the conversation regarding campus safety, with each candidate admitting to failures within the current protocol.
“When is the last time you talked to your friends about what consent is? Because that’s a hard conversation our school needs to have,” Heley said.
Overall, students responded favorably to both the debate and the candidates’ platforms.
“It was really good to hear what they all had to say. I thought they were all great,” said Max Lawlor, a sophomore majoring in environmental science and health. “They’re all clearly going places in life.”
Others felt the platforms were, for the most part, alike, if only approached in different ways.
“Each slate was so similar, but Heley and Pinto were very straightforward while the other two played more to the emotions of the crowd,” said Syed Ibrahim, a sophomore majoring in business administration.