The Undergraduate Student Government held its first-ever Senate Forum at Grace Salvatori Hall Thursday. The event gave student voters the opportunity to learn more about the 11 senatorial tickets running for office.
According to USG bylaws, Senate candidates may run individually or in a group. Tickets with two or three candidates can campaign together on similar platform points, but each candidate is ultimately still competing against the others to be one of the 12 USG senators. During the voting period, a total of 20 candidates will be listed on the ballots individually. Only one incumbent candidate, sophomore Gabriel Savage, is running for re-election.
After each ticket introduced its platform at the forum, audience members asked questions and clarified legislation propositions before moving on to the next candidates.
The tickets discussed topics like mental health treatment funding and sustainability, as well as transparency and accountability with USG and the University administration.
The forum was moderated by juniors Rosa Wang and Montana Houston. Houston emphasized the importance of USG introducing the event.
“This forum is very instrumental in helping students make a decision because this allows students the opportunity to ask their questions directly,” Houston told the Daily Trojan after the forum. “[The candidates’] platform points on the [USG] website are pretty vague, so this is a great opportunity to get some elaboration on their points.”
Many of the tickets addressed the connection between USG and the student body. Sophomores Hailey Robertson and Ben Rosenthal and freshman Julian Kuffour, who are running on a ticket together, spoke about the need for communication between USG and the undergraduate population.
“There’s a large disconnect between what people who are not in USG think about the school, what people in USG think and then what the administration does as a result of that,” Rosenthal said.
Senate candidate Quinn Cunniff, a sophomore majoring in accounting, seeks to make changes in USG’s structure to increase accountability.
“Corruption ends with transparency, and I will provide that,” Cunniff said.
Cunniff is skeptical about USG’s ability to perform in a transparent manner, and wants to represent students who think similarly.
“I think that I translate a lot of the sentiment of what the students feel like,” Cunniff said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. “There’s a reason turnout is so low. It’s because people don’t have … faith in the student government.”
Sara Tamadon, a sophomore majoring in social sciences, said some audience members thought the forum could have been a longer event.
“It’s really unfortunate that [the candidates] didn’t have enough time … some of the candidates were rushed,” Tamadon said. “They were definitely all well-prepared. I felt I had a good solid sense of all of the [candidates] who came to speak. I now feel like I have a better idea of who I’m going to vote for.”