Undergraduate Student Government hosted a Meet the Candidates event Tuesday night in TCC 227 to introduce the presidential and vice presidential tickets, in addition to the USG senatorial candidates, to the student body before the Feb. 7-9 elections.
USG Vice President Austin Dunn and his running mate Morgan Monahan did not attend the event. Another ticket, consisting of USG Senator Daniel Million and his running mate Tim Vorhoff, also did not attend the event.
USG Senate candidates were present for the event, along with USG presidential candidate Rachel Udabe and her running mate Rebecca Harbeck. The candidates started the event by introducing themselves and giving a brief explanation of their platforms. They then described the issues that mattered to them the most.
Blake Ackerman, a freshman majoring in business administration and is running on a ticket with fellow senatorial candidates Debbie Lee and Noah Silver, said he would like to see the greek community merge with rest of the University.
“I know it’s very tense sometimes, and I want to help diffuse that tension,” he said.
Ackerman then underscored the contributions of younger students within the University.
“Freshmen are the future,” he said. “I’m a freshman, and I’m thinking ahead.”
Preston Fregia, a sophomore majoring in political science and also running for USG Senate, said he was passionate about making college more affordable.
“The main reason I’m running is because of tuition,” Fregia said. “I am really focused on students being able to pay for school, especially low-income students.”
Senate candidate Natalie Antounian, a junior majoring in political science and international relations, said she is running as a voice for student commuters who have a rough time socializing and becoming part of the campus community.
“As a commuter myself, I know my fellow commuter peers have trouble coming into their social bubble,” she said.
Antounian plans to advocate for a lounge area where commuters can socialize and rest during long gaps between classes, a time when students who live close to campus would likely be able to go home.
Attendees of the event asked how candidates planned on increasing student engagement in campus government and combating apathy in the student body.
Tyler Matheson, the only current USG Senator running for re-election, said holding candidates in elected office accountable is crucial for students to believe that voting matters.
“A culture of apathy is created when a student votes for an elected official and [the student’s] effort is not rewarded with an outcome from that official,” Matheson said.
Matheson stated that more accountability for USG officials in the next semester and coming years will demonstrate that students are actually voting for change.
“We do get paid, and this is a job,” he said. “I expect us to serve the student body as such.”
Fregia ultimately underscored the role of USG on campus, saying that there was not much more the organization could do to motivate increased student involvement.
“USG has done an excellent job getting people involved,” Fregia said. “If people aren’t getting involved, then that’s also their choice.”