Candidates Face Off for Presidency

Utsav Gupta

Brian McEuen
Tan Dhillon
John Condello
Joe Virgilio
Wafa Ben Hassine

Five candidates attended the A.S. presidential debates last Friday, including two on brand-new slates that grew out of Student Voice! — which swept most election seats in recent years — and a three-person slate called NOW!

Candidates present were current A.S. President Utsav Gupta, on NOW!, Campuswide Senator Wafa Ben Hassine on Students First, Marshall College Senator Brian McEuen on Tritons First and independent candidates Thurgood Marshall College Chair Tan Dhillon and Muir College junior Joe Virgilio.

Independent candidates Sixth College senator John Condello and Muir College senior August Ryan Brenner did not attend.

The debates focused on the failed transportation referendum — which proposed raising student fees $40 per quarter, in order to maintain all campus shuttle lines — and the Winter Quarter student-media

funding freeze enacted by Gupta in response to Koala Editor in Chief Kris Gregorian’s use of a racial slur on SRTV.

Gupta defended the A.S. Transportation Committee’s recommendation to abandon the contentious referendum, and said he formed a Defense of Public Transportation Committee to

save the Blueand White shuttles without raising student fees.

“We’ve recommended proposals and other sorts of cuts,” Gupta said. “We wanted to explore other referendums so that any referendums that do come before you are as small as possible.”

In contrast, McEuen, Dhillon and Ben Hassine agreed that the decision to fail the referendum will result in cuts to shuttle services and therefore negatively affect students.

Dhillon said the funding issues now facing Transportation and Parking and Services could be remedied by creating more “S” spots that students could buy to fund the shuttles.

In regard to the media freeze, Gupta claimed he never actively tried to defund controversial newspaper the Koala, or stop their distribution.

“My concern has always been regarding our sponsorship of their publication, and I would defend their right to distribute their publication across the campus, as I have done,” Gupta said.

He added that he had been willing to explore the “government speech model” suggested by Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch, which would give the council discretionary power to fund certain media organizations through advertisements.

McEuen, who also ran with the Student Voice! slate last year, said he would have educated groups such as the Koala about diversity instead of targeting the publication because of its beliefs.

McEuen said his slate aims to fund more student orgs and lobby externally.

“We want to lobby not just the regents, but we want to go to the state level and the local legislatures, and lobby them to make sure that they understand that students are not going to stand for these drastic fee increases,” he saBen Hassine said all students should be given the right to issue their publications if they are constitutionally protected.

“If media orgs don’t fall under such protection, we should take publications off campus through legal channels,” she said.

Ben Hassine said that, as a member of the media funding committee, she boycotted meetings that she believed falsely pitted the Black Student Union and the media organizations against each other.

“If we wanted to make our guidelines better, let’s make a committee to find what’s illegal not go out there specifically for one org,” Ben Hassine said.

Ben Hassine added that, although her slate is geared strongly toward Students for Affirmative Action Committee organizations, it will reach out to other constituents because of the social and ethnic diversity of her running mates

Virgilio, who is running on a platform centered on improving student life, said he wants to bring more fun to UCSD, but is unsure about how to do so

“[Creating fun] step by step, that’s not something that we can do,” Virgilio said.

The vice-presidential debates will take place on Monday, April 5, in Price Center Plaza at noon. Voting will begin the same day and continue until 4 p.m. on Friday. At 5:30 p.m., election results will be announced at Round Table Pizza in Price Center. Students can vote both on TritonLink and Library Walk.

Readers can contact Andrew Tieu at [email protected].

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