The virtual AS Presidential debate took place on April 7 between Lizbeth Cano-Sanchez and Jeremiah Finley.
Finley is the current AS President and is running for re-election, but Cano-Sanchez is also running for the position for a second time after her Spring 2020 takeover when the acting president at the time had to step away.
The moderator for the debate was Dan Sornia, the AS Program and Media Coordinator. Since the candidates were on a 45 minute time crunch, Sornia spent no time getting straight into the debate.
“Each person’s response will be timed in order to make sure that we’re on track and making sure we’re giving equal attention and equal time to both candidates,” Sornia said.
They then asked the candidates to each introduce themselves, with Finley going first and Cano-Sanchez going second.
Following introductions, the first set of questions were asked and included how the candidates planned to bridge communication between the student body and AS, as well as the information being discussed at University Senate meetings.
Both candidates emphasized the importance of continued efforts to enhance communication between committees that are receiving information in spaces that are inaccessible to the majority of students and the campus community.
“We’ve been able to get the ball rolling on a lot of topics, such as the student fee task force report that is going to be taken up again and will be relooked at or examined by the Student Fee Advisory Committee,” Finley said.
Cano-Sanchez said that the SFAC would be one committee that she would spend more time with. She said that the redirection of student fees is crucial and it is especially important to ensure that directed fees are used to fund student programs.
“We need to demand the administration for things to get done and I think that the president voice can be heavily used to do this,” Cano-Sanchez said.
Finley said that throughout this past year, students have experienced a lot of pushback from administration on a lot of different topics. Oftentimes student advocates and board members feel as though they’re being silenced.
Both candidates wanted to let it publicly be known that leaders on campus, especially the AS President and board members, have an obligation to enhance student voices and minimize the disenfranchisement of those voices by the administration.
As the debate came to an end, Sornia read through two questions from the audience for candidates to answer. One asked whether they believe that students voices were actually taken into consideration.
“Unfortunately, my executive committee members have been called disrespectful at times for probing and challenging a little bit more than my predecessor has,” Finley said.
Cano-Sanchez agreed that administrators have been selective with what student voices are being taken into consideration.
“When I served, I definitely saw that my voice as president was prioritized over other voices which I did not like,” Cano-Sanchez said.
Finley and Cano-Sanchez then gave their closing statements and reminded students that they can vote starting on April 12 and ending on April 16.