Covering issues including sustainability, the surrounding community and academic schedules, the Undergraduate Student Government presidential debate Wednesday gave each presidential candidate the chance to better explain their platform to students.
The debate was moderated by Kate Cagle, the executive producer of Annenberg T.V. News, Kate Mather, online editor for the Daily Trojan and Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics. The event, which ran about an hour and a half long, was attended by about 100 students, some of them wearing apparel and support buttons for the different candidates.
The candidates were asked specific questions based on their platforms. Each candidate was asked two questions and had a chance to give closing statements to reiterate their opinions.
The candidates shared similar opinions regarding improving the neighborhood around USC, agreeing that improved road paving and better leadership in terms of carrying out policies is needed.
“Our reputation is affected by what the surrounding area looks like,” said Dylan Dann, currently a Greek senator and one of the presidential candidates.
Candidates disagreed, however, when it came to issues about tuition.
Although the candidates agreed that lower tuition would not be a bad thing, opinions differed as to whether a change is necessary right now.
“Honestly, when students come into USC, you get what you’re paying for,” said Andrew Matson, currently the director of academic affairs and one of the presidential candidates. “One of my main goals is to make students more aware of scholarships, we really want to connect students better with USG.”
The candidates agreed that philanthropic events need to be expanded to encompass more students, beyond members of the Greek community. Some hoped to do this by uniting various smaller philanthropic groups.
“One improvement that could be made is the collaboration and communications between these different [community services] groups,” said Jonathan Munoz-Proulx, one of the presidential candidates. “The money may be going to a different place but they are working towards a similar goal.”
The candidates all had different ideas as to how to improve sustainability, from providing more recycling bins to installing solar panels on different buildings.
“Being green should start before students even get on campus,” said Munoz-Proulx, who then outlined a plan to create a workshop during orientation to educate students about USC’s sustainability efforts.
One of the most important issues that was brought up during the debate was the feasibility of a longer Thanksgiving break. Many of the candidates voiced concerns about diminishing academic quality by removing instructional days.
“Academic days are set,” Chris Cheng, currently the director of external relations at USG and one of the presidential candidates, said. “We’ve talked to teachers and they like the way it is.”
Matson disagreed, saying he had actually gotten varying responses from faculty members, some of whom were open to changing the schedule.
Candidates also discussed a possible entertainment center on campus, including a bowling alley. The candidates all agreed that an on-campus entertainment center for students would improve safety by allowing students to stay on campus and would boost the quality of weekends on campus.
“USC doesn’t have a place where people can meet and hang out, and we want to provide more places on campus where students can be entertained,” Cheng said.
Some of the candidates, however, pointed out that there may be other, more pressing issues that deserve more immediate attention.
Overall, the candidates generally agreed that the issues facing students are similar, but each ticket had different plans to go about serving the needs of students.
“We all love the university here,” Cheng said. “We just want to make the university better.”
Schnur said the annual debate is an important opportunity for students to learn about the future of their university and its potential leaders.
“I thought it was tremendous,” Schnur said. “The candidates have very well-thought out platforms and they were also extremely well-prepared and presented very well.”
Rohan Venkataramakrishnan contributed to this report.