USG presidential candidates exchange stances at debate

The Undergraduate Student Government presidential debate took place on Wednesday night. The six candidates, running on three tickets for president and vice president, respectively, are Austin Dunn and Morgan Monahan, Rachel Udabe and Rebecca Harbeck and Daniel Million and Tim Vorhoff. They answered live questions — submitted earlier to USC Annenberg Media’s website — from students.

Udabe, a junior majoring in political science and policy, planning and development, and Harbeck, a sophomore studying economics and sociology, characterized their campaign with the slogan “Unite, Strengthen and Connect.” Dunn, a junior majoring in political science and earning his master’s in public policy, and Monahan, a junior majoring in business administration, operate on the slogan “Achieve More.” Million, a junior majoring in neuroscience and Vorhoff, a sophomore majoring in business, adopted the slogan “Make Your Voices Heard.”

The first issue the candidates addressed was the tuition hike of nearly $2,000 that the university administration introduced last year. Udabe talked about her plans to implement an online platform to inform students of undergraduate finances. Dunn aims to lower the cost of mandatory fees.

“Tuition has to be discussed in terms of transparency and affordability,” Dunn said. “We’ve asked the administration to release information that clearly explains why the increases were happening on a yearly basis. Additionally, we’ve made great progress in trying to reduce fees for the coming years.”

Vorhoff mentioned that though he doesn’t have an exact solution to improve transparency, the best approach would be to talk with the administration to understand tuition hikes.

Another issue brought to the candidates’ attention was the treatment of minority groups. One student asked how the candidates will be expanding campus inclusivity for Muslims.

“We want to push administration to make a stronger statement about vulnerable communities,” Dunn said, referencing President Donald Trump’s recent immigration executive order.

Million, on the other hand, said he wants to ensure that USC can be a sanctuary campus, and meet with cultural assemblies and resource centers. Udabe’s tactic includes understanding the needs of all students and meeting with as many people as possible.

Another student-submitted question addressed how the candidates would treat sexual assault differently than previous USG leaders. All candidates emphasized the need for more training.  Dunn’s plans include to apply wider sexual assault prevention training — which Greek organizations on campus have started implementing — and possibly assign sexual assault representatives for campus organizations who will act as liaisons between USG and its organizations. Vorhoff stated that students should be given greater bystander training. Harbeck placed an emphasis on RSVP training.

”We need to build a culture of respect and responsibility,” Harbeck said.

After addressing more student questions concerning campus issues, candidates wrapped up the town-hall style debate with closing statements. Million stated that his priority is to improve diversity and inclusion on campus, mentioning that he has felt excluded on campus before. If elected, Million would like to meet with different groups on campus.

“We definitely want to take more action on social issues and get more students involved on this campus,” Million said.

Udabe recognized that she and Harbeck lacked USG experience, but stated that that should not hinder students from voting for their ticket.

“We are leaders who are willing to fight for you,” Udabe said. “You deserve better from your student leaders and you deserve a seat at the table.”

Dunn stressed that he and Morgan’s combined experience working in USG would make them the best candidates for this election.

“We can’t reiterate enough how important experience is to be a successful president and vice president,” Dunn said. “Morgan and I will continue moving forward and accomplish the things we’ve started working on.”