Making voters listen
At the final ASUI candidates forum March 28, senate candidate Andrew Baldridge said only about 10 percent of students voted in the last election and he wants to change that. However, based on the turnout during the two candidate forums last week it may not be any different this year.
About five people attended the forum on Tuesday in the Student Union Building Gold Room and about the same number attended Thursday’s forum in the Quiet Room of Bob’s Place and they left about 15 minutes into the forum.
At both forums, ASUI Elections Coordinator Lobna Abdel-Rahim asked the candidates how they would get students more involved in campus government. Senate candidate Joseph Wittreich said it is important to talk to students outside the ASUI office in order to best represent them, while vice presidential candidate Michael Cullen said he and his running mate Jim Martinez want to create a “We the Students” petition for students to voice concerns. Senate candidate Nate Fisher said there needs to be more communication between representatives and students.
Halfway through the forum in Bob’s Abdel-Rahim stopped asking candidates questions and gave them the opportunity to talk to potential voters. ASUI Communications Coordinator Melissa Kowaluk said the residence halls are a difficult audience to reach.
“To me especially I believe the residence halls can be one of the more difficult parts of campus to reach out to and motivate the students because some of them are very new,” Kowaluk said. “Give them a reason to listen to you, something that might interest them, how something you are doing might affect them.”
Presidential candidate Fidele Amar asked students at a table if they knew about ASUI. One student said they had heard of it, but didn’t know a lot.
When Amar asked if they would be voting, they said they planned on it.
Vice presidential candidate Taylor Williams asked students if they had been to any ASUI events. One of them said he had been to the ASUI office, but couldn’t recall attending any events.
“That’s another problem,” Williams said. “A lot of the events students go to don’t know the events are put on by ASUI.”
Presidential candidate Jim Martinez spoke to students about the main point of his platform — financial aid.
“Currently students leave the university with about $20,000 dollars in student loans,” Martinez said. “We want to make an optional profile that students can update with current university activities like volunteer service or leadership roles and so hopefully you’ll better be positioned to receive some of the $27 million dollars in financial aid that they give out for free.”
The candidates returned to the quiet room to talk about how they felt talking to students.
“Walking up to the tables you could definitely get an air of whether they just didn’t care, or if they were partially interested or really interested,” said senate candidate Peter Rustemeyer.
ASUI Director of Safety and Violence Prevention Nick DiMico, who attended the forum, said he thought giving the candidates a chance to talk to students was incredibly important.
“You guys are wanting to be student leaders, and as student leaders you have to go out and talk to students,” DiMico said. “You have to be out there talking to them individually and making a presence.”
Voting began Monday and lasts until 5 p.m. Wednesday. Students can vote online at vote.uidaho.edu. Election results will be announced at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the Idaho Commons Rotunda.
Andrew Deskins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org