Presidential Hopefuls Debate

The candidates for A.S. president met Thursday night for the A.S. Council Presidential Candidates’ Debate, co-sponsored by the Toastmasters and the UCSD Speech and Debate Team.

Earlier in the week, the A.S. Council conducted its own presidential debates during the day at Price Center. According to the UCSD Speech and Debate Team President Brandy Brickey, each organization wanted a separate presidential debate as an alternative to the annual debate that the A.S. Council conducts.

“”We tried to focus [the questions] more from a student org. perspective,”” Brickey said. “”All the candidates were willing to participate and were very responsive.””

After being introduced by Brickey, each candidate presented an opening statement. Marshall senior and member of the UCSD Speech and Debate Team, Santosh Narayan, served as the moderator. Narayan asked each candidate a total of 15 questions. Each candidate was given one minute to answer each question.

Topics ranged from general, such as what candidates believe they can offer to the UCSD community, to specific, like their personal thoughts on the proposed campus life fee referendum.

The five candidates were Jennifer Christine Villanueva Ganata, John Bwarie, Ali Yazdi, Jeff Dodge and Noah Levin. During the debate, all the candidates had an opportunities to introduce themselves and express their stances on issues.

Ganata, a Marshall sophomore who is running without a slate, said her campaign does not make big promises, but instead focuses on individual student needs. She went on to say that even though she lacks A.S. Council experience, she has been involved with other organizations such as the Student Affirmative Action Coalition, the Asian and Pacific-Islander Student Alliance, the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan and the African American Student Union.

Ganata described how she distinguishes herself from the other candidates.

“”I’m a woman of color, which I think makes a big statement,”” Ganata said. “”Even though there have been past female presidents, I hope to represent those students who are underrepresented.””

Bwarie, a Marshall junior is also running without a slate. He served on Marshall College Council his freshman year and is an outreach coordinator this year at the Preuss School. Bwarie said he is running as a true leader and is a candidate for the people.

Being a commuter has made Bwarie willing to get more involved on campus, he said.

“”I’m very energetic with people and I’m always trying to find out what’s going on on campus,”” Bwarie said. “”I want to be visible and represent people and communicate with the administration on a mature level.””

Yazdi, a Revelle senior and candidate on the One slate, said he wants to listen to students. According to Yazdi, one of his main goals is to improve the quality of student life on campus.

For two years, Yazdi served as ex-officio on the A.S. Council and is currently a senior senator for Revelle. Yazdi said he has tangible goals such as increasing campus safety by adding more call-boxes on campus, supporting bigger and better student events, and supplementing support for UCSD athletics with a Triton Pride Booster Club.

“”Last year I ran for A.S. President,”” Yazdi said. “”I don’t think A.S. is something you can get involved [with] any time. You need to know a lot about the campus.””

Dodge is a Marshall junior running as a member of the Unity slate. He has served on over 10 all-campus committees including the Academic Senate and Student Affairs and Business Relations. This year he serves as A.S. vice president internal.

Dodge said he hopes to increase access to the A.S. Council for all UCSD students and to end the “”bureaucratic shadiness”” of the A.S. Council. He said his extended experience with the council distinguishes him from the other candidates.

“”Ideas are only good if you have experience and know-how to follow through with them,”” Dodge said. “”I have a firm commitment to do things and am extremely passionate about representing student interests at all times.””

Levin, a Muir junior running independently, said he wants students to be interested in UCSD and show what it has to offer. According to Levin, he would like the over 300 organizations on campus to actively recruit more students.

This year, Levin has served on the Muir College Council.

“”I see a lot of students and I make an effort to talk to them,”” Levin said.