Candidates Face Off at Election Debate

    Publicizing their platforms for this week’s A.S. election, the four presidential candidates debated in Price Center on April 6 on issues such as student life, student control of fees, the rapport between students and the administration, the university’s relationships with the La Jolla and San Diego communities, the importance of UCSD athletics and the prospect of free beer provided by the university.

    Sanh Luong/Guardian
    A.S. presidential contenders participated in a debate in Price Center on April 6, focusing on issues of campus life and student control and fielding questions from audience members. From right, the candidates are Junaid Fatehi, Dan Palay, Marco Murillo and Michael Hirshman.

    A.S. Associate Vice President of Diversity Affairs Marco Murillo of the Student Voice! slate, Earl Warren College Junior Senator Dan Palay of the SHOCK! slate and independents Warren junior Michael Hirshman and Revelle College senior Junaid Fatehi first offered opening statements, then debated questions posed by both a panel of moderators and the audience.

    The candidates agreed that a lack of social life at UCSD is a big issue for the A.S. Council, though they sometimes disagreed on the causes and potential solutions.

    Fatehi argued for a more open-minded campus.

    “”This campus is very segregated,”” he said. “”When you go to Geisel … you see all the different types of Asians – Koreans, Japanese, Chinese – standing together; you see the whites standing together; you see the 1.1 percent of blacks standing together. That is a problem in my opinion. We need a lot more mingling. And I think the best way to go about that is more free beer.””

    Murillo said that closer bonds between the A.S. Council and student organizations could foster a better campus social atmosphere, and he also encouraged more programming on campus during the weekends.

    Hirshman also emphasized the importance of student organizations, and proposed reducing the paperwork necessary for them to operate. He pointed out that UCSD students as far back as the 1960s have been disappointed with the social life on campus, a fact he felt exposed the problem as deeply rooted in UCSD’s culture.

    Palay said the campus layout is largely responsible for the university’s social shortcomings. A better parking system combined with longer hours at central on-campus locations such as Geisel Library would offer a hub for social life to grow, he said.

    Palay also questioned Murillo and Fatehi’s commitment to bettering campus social life by pointing out their negative views toward athletics, saying, “”The only entity at a school that everybody at a school can unite behind is athletics.””

    This statement, however, prompted a rebuttal from Murillo, who said that his slate represents a coalition of several different groups on campus.

    “”What I think Dan doesn’t understand is that athletics is only one part of UCSD – it’s not the entire campus,”” he said.

    Fatehi, who opened the debate by apologizing for his behavior at a previous debate in front of Triton Athletes Council, reiterated his anger at the outcome of the athletics referendum.

    “”Very few people come to UCSD for the amazing athletic department,”” he said. “”We come here because we want to get jobs.””

    One of Fatehi’s main goals is to have the school provide free beer at athletic events and other nighttime activities to foster student interaction.

    “”I’m all about free beer,”” he said. When asked about students that might not drink, however, Fatehi answered, “”To those people who don’t like beer, well, there is something wrong with you.””

    Hirshman said that UCSD can support athletics and other endeavors at the same time, without having to compromise the quality of either program.

    Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson, who is approaching retirement this summer, sat in the crowd and watched as the candidates addressed the importance of a new vice chancellor in relation to student control over campus resources. Hirshman said he planned to use persuasion and leverage over the administration to work together to get things done.

    Murillo, on the other hand, mandated a more direct approach, stating that the reforms pushed forward by current A.S. President and past SV! member Harry Khanna to provide more student control over resources for which students pay are headed in the right direction.

    “”We have the right to say whether we want [the administrators] to be hired or fired,”” Murillo said.

    Palay countered by saying that arguments and a standoffish attitude between students and administrators breed ineffective relations, using last year’s Student-Run Television debacle as an example. He said that the A.S. Council must compromise with administrators to achieve anything.

    “”Arguments go nowhere,”” Palay said. “”The time for protest is over; the time for open dialogue is now.””

    Fatehi, however, attributed the sometimes rocky relationship between the administration and students to Watson himself.

    “”Joe Watson – his tyrannical reign is over,”” Fatehi said. “”And why is that? Because we have taken a hard line with him. We told him, ‘You’re not right for UCSD’ and he gave up.””

    Murillo and Palay exchanged criticisms on several issues, making aggressive accusations about each other’s ideas and past work. Both claimed that it was the other’s current responsibility to promote council programs to the campus, which, they both said, has not been done. Murillo said that Palay was too focused on athletics and did not represent a large enough bloc of students, but Palay said that Murillo, although claiming to have representation from several different organizations, skipped over certain fraternities in his slate recruitment and outreach.

    At this point, Hirshman commented on the argument, saying, “”I think there is a little too much bickering.””

    Fatehi took a more passive stance.

    “”I am actually pretty entertained with the green and the pink shirts yelling at each other,”” he said, referring to Murillo’s green SV! shirt and Palay’s pink SHOCK! shirt.

    Regarding the issue of UCSD’s involvement with the local community, the majority of the candidates agreed that more outreach is needed.Fatehi was the exception, stating that building relationships with the local community is “”a futile effort.””

    In addition, all of the candidates except Fatehi indicated support for the Promoting Understanding and Learning through Service and Education fee referendum, which is designed to help more funding reach campus outreach and retention programs.

    The candidates all concluded their arguments by asserting a better social life at UCSD as their primary goal, whether it be achieved via Palay’s proposal of longer library hours, Hirshman’s promise of better transportation, Murillo’s push for more diversity or Fatehi’s call for free beer.

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