The second ASUN senatorial debate, held on Thursday, Feb. 20, featured the six candidates for the College of Liberal Arts. The candidates took the stage to discuss the basis of their platforms and answer questions and concerns regarding life on campus and within the College of Liberal Arts.
The candidates running for the position of senator include Conner Doyle, Lauren Harvey, Kenneth Heinlein, Victoria Supple, Zane Taylor and Kate Torres.
The first question of the debate was about the vast amount of programs within the College of Liberal Arts. “If elected, what outreach methods would you utilize to ensure that you are hearing the voices of all the constituents within your program?
Doyle, who is a current senator for the College of Liberal Arts, talked about how important clubs on campus are and what an asset they are to the university. He stated that he would like to see administration within liberal arts programs working towards creating outlets where students can share feedback that will be communicated with governing officers.
Doyle also talked about the importance of focusing on incoming freshman as well as media students. He reminded the attendees that art programs on campus are often overlooked and stated the importance of hearing these students’ voices and opinions.
Harvey, who is a current senator for the College of Liberal Arts, said she would like to sponsor ASUN events to speak with students more candidly. She said that the opportunity to talk with students one-on-one gives representatives a better idea as to what their constituents want and need.
Talking more openly with students gave Harvey the opportunity to hear a particular concern of a student: the lack of gender neutral bathrooms on campus. Harvey has since been working with different facilities to see if this can become an option in the future.
Heinlein answered that he would like to use different methods to ensure that all voices of liberal arts are being heard. One method would include reaching out to clubs, local businesses, Greek Life organizations and students to hear ideas and gain a better understanding of the climate on campus. He also stated that hosting school events to attract students to talk to elected officials would be a beneficial practice.
Everyday situations with students was the focus of Supple’s answer. Supple, who is a current senator for the College of Liberal Arts, said that the best way to communicate with students and ensure that all constituents’ voices are being heard is to focus on the little moments, such as walking to and from class or other everyday interactions.
She also talked about the importance of reaching out to clubs and centers on campus, including The Center. Supple said that in her potential future as senator, she will be spending more time at The Center to hear the opinions and voices of those who frequent it and implored her fellow candidates to do the same.
Taylor declared how crucial it is to attend events that are part of outside organizations other than ASUN. He would like to send out monthly emails to students to bring light to events and fairs happening on campus so everyone can be aware. He would also like to use social media as a quick and efficient way to send out polls and to hear the voices of constituents.
Taylor mentioned the importance of Greek Life on campus but also said smaller clubs often don’t get as much recognition as fraternities and sororities. In his potential senatorship, he said he would like to change that by establishing a solid base for all clubs to express their voices and opinions.
The three main ways Torres said she plans on building a foundation for representation of all students are with one-on-one communication, speaking to all clubs and organizations and the use of social media. She believes that utilizing all of these methods will help create a better portrayal of all the voices on campus. “It’s not the job of students to come and reach out to us. We are supposed to be the voice of the underrepresented,” said Torres.
The second question of the debate was whether or not the candidates believe that expanding the Gender, Race and Identity (GRI) program will increase awareness of diversity and inclusion topics on campus.
Harvey said that the goal of GRI is to focus more on equity and inclusion rather than diversity. She said that programs like the GRI focus on why diversity is important and why it is the key to a successful and safe university.
Heinlein said that diversity is based on more than sex and race, but on income levels as well. He talked about the importance of helping people with low incomes to succeed in college. “As [the GRI program] grows, more people will accept it,” said Heinlein.
Supple praised students within the GRI program and said that they are smart and involved students who will change the climate of the campus. She said she thinks that expanding the GRI program will increase awareness and diversity on campus.
Taylor said that he thinks expanding the GRI program will increase awareness and diversity and said that the current national Congress is the most diverse in history. He said he would like to see that diversity reflected on student government. He also talked about the importance of working directly with the GRI department during crises or moments of question.
Personal experience was involved in Torres’s response to the question. She said a lot of colleges she was accepted to had a large majority of white population and treated diversity on their campus as a tool to use to bolster numbers. She said GRI programs actually create a community where differences are accepted.
Torres also said Core Humanities programs and basic composition classes on campus consist of a curriculum with a majority of white authors. She talked about the importance of improving the diversity within these programs and expanding the curriculum to include a majority of different ethnicities, including the Latinx communities.
The third question of the debate, posed by an audience member, asked the candidates if they are happy with the path that ASUN is heading down as an organization.
Heinlein said he does not think that ASUN is taking the best actions possible to ensure campus success and student involvement. He said he often hears of events being held by ASUN, but rarely sees them put to action. Heinlein said working with campus police will ensure campus safety.
Supple said ASUN is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. She said ASUN has the opportunity to take steps to better the program and improve the university as a whole. “ASUN was corrupt a couple of years ago…but we are headed in the right direction and the candidates running for future positions will change the dynamic of ASUN,” said Supple.
Torres said, “I will never be satisfied. I will [not] be satisfied until College of Liberal Arts students can name at least three of their senators. I will not be satisfied until I am able to feel safe walking at night after my 8:45 class.” She also said that she will sacrifice her voice so that the voices of students can be heard. “My service begins here and ends with you guys,” said Torres.
Doyle said although ASUN is making positive first steps in bettering the organization, the focus is in too many different directions. Doyle said that instead of focusing solely on athletic engagement, the university needs to focus on other important things and on one main goal to better the lives of students. “We should be increasing the budget for diversity and inclusion. Period. End of story,” said Doyle.
Harvey said she believes that in order to create a more balanced associated student body, ASUN needs to work on transparency. She said even though there are multiple positions to run for, it seems as though only a certain demographic apply. She said a student does not have to be a political science major to run for school government.
Another audience question was if the candidates would take a reactive or proactive approach to the issue of racism on campus. All candidates replied that they would use both approaches in hopes to defeat racism on campus.
In response to racism on campus, Supple said, “As a senator, I can’t really know what to do until people tell me… I need to hear student voices.” She also said racism will never end on campus, but that governing students can take steps to limit racial issues.
Taylor said, “Being a white male, I recognize my privilege and I need to use it to expand through the senate to bring the voices of those who are not usually accounted for to administration…executive boards, senate meetings and making sure that they are on the record and being addressed.”
Primary elections will begin on Wednesday, Mar. 4 at 8 a.m. and end on Thursday, Mar. 5 at 5 p.m. General elections will begin on Tuesday, Mar. 11 at 8 a.m. and end on Thursday, Mar. 12 at 5 p.m. Voting will be done on WebCampus.
For more information on each candidate and their platforms, please read the voters guide on ASUN’s election website.
Hailey Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.