ASUI election campaigning for executive and senate positions started Monday, meaning a busy week for candidates as they introduce themselves and their platforms to students.
Several candidates have put up websites or Facebook pages to get their campaign’s message out. Others have been introducing themselves to living groups on campus. But the first real opportunity for University of Idaho students to meet all of the candidates was during the first candidate forum in the Idaho Commons food court.
Thursday’s forum included all three executive tickets and five senate candidates. ASUI Elections Coordinator Lobna Abdel-Rahim and Director of Communications Melissa Kowaluk served as moderators for the forum, asking questions and limiting debate.
When asked what they saw as the biggest issue facing UI students, the executive candidates had a wide range of answers.
Presidential candidate Jim Martinez said the biggest issue is financial aid.
“Michael and I agree that financial aid is the main concern for students,” Martinez said. “Most students when they leave the university are $24,000 in debt for student loans. Our plan of action is to create an updated profile so students can put themselves in a better position to receive the $27 million the university already gives out in free financial aid. Currently they just base it off of your GPA, major, hometown and your application to the university which might have been done your junior or senior year of high school.”
Marinez’s running mate, Michael Cullen, said the profile would be optional, and that it would be modeled after the donor relations office’s scholarship recipient profile.
Presidential candidate Fidele Amar said the biggest issue is coming changes to the university student culture.
“We believe that one of the biggest issues facing students today is the coming change with the departure of President Nellis and the new alcohol and substance abuse task force and Greek life task forces, that there is a lot of changes coming in the next few years,” Amar said. “We believe that strong regulation is not what’s needed, but alternatives and a change in culture.”
Amar’s running mate, Kendra Telin, said they will focus on representing the student body’s voice with the coming campus culture changes.
“We are the students who are part of this culture and we are the ones who can change it,” Telin said.
Vice-presidential candidate Taylor Williams identified three major issues facing students at UI.
“The three issues are: cost of the university, sexual assault, and campus involvement,” Williams said.
Presidential candidate Max Cowan said the biggest issue of the three is cost of the university.
“Cost of the university is the number one reason that students leave the University of Idaho, and unfortunately there is not enough financial aid for all students,” Cowan said. “Only roughly 30 percent of students have their financial needs met. So Taylor and I want to make it a priority to go to the state legislature and advocate on your behalf to the senate subcommittees of education and appropriation for more financial aid. We also want to address the cost of the university by seeking more funding for the university as a whole which is done before the state board of education at their meetings. Lastly, we want to work to maintain the student activity fee so there is not an increase which boosts the total cost of the university.”
Before campaigning began Abdel-Rahim gave a brief presentation explaining ASUI’s power structure, reviewing campaign regulations and laying out the schedule at the candidates meeting on March 7.
“Senate candidates cannot spend more than $300 on campaign material, while presidential and vice-presidential candidates may not exceed $1,250,” Abdel-Rahim said. “Although they may seek an additional $250 in outside donations.”
Abdel-Rahim also explained the regulations for advertising. She mentioned that graduate and family housing is off-limits for campaign advertising. She also said that once voting begins there is no campaigning near ballot areas.
Since campaigning began one senate candidate, Dillon Waybright, has decided to drop out of the race.
Next week there will be two candidate forums, the first at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the SUB Gold Room. The second is Thursday, although the time and location are still being determined.
Voting begins on April 1 and lasts until 5 p.m. Wednesday. Students can vote at online at vote.uidaho.edu. Election results will be announced at 8 p.m. that night in the Idaho Commons rotunda.
Andrew Deskins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org