three people sit at a table with a tablecloth that reads ASUN

Rachel Jackson/Nevada Sagebrush
The three candidates debated on Feb. 22. The debate was nontraditional and all candidates were running unopposed.

The final debate for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada was held on Feb. 22 in the Ansari Business Building. Zachariah Dean, candidate for the College of Business, Robert Resnik, candidate for the College of Education and Esmeralda Perez Ramirez, candidate for the Division of Health Science were all present at the debate.

The debate was held unconventionally, for all three candidates from separate colleges took the stage together to answer questions, rather than separately.

Questions were being asked by Amanda Vaskov, co-director of elections for ASUN.

Resnik is currently a third year student and has already served in ASUN as director of Legislative Affairs. Dean and Perez Ramirez are both newcomers to the association and will be in their first term if elected.

The first question asked was what is the University of Nevada, Reno experience for them and how they plan to improve it for their constituents

Resnik was the first to answer stating that he loves Nevada and believes it to be the greatest state. The UNR experience for him has been a time for embracing diversity and freedom. As for improvement, he hopes to set up more opportunities for students outside of college, specifically by utilizing the Pack Internship Grant Program.

UNR means community and involves everyone through opportunity and progressiveness. according to Perez Ramirez. However, she hopes to make UNR more accessible for all students no matter their background

Dean claimed he has been extremely humbled by on and off campus groups and hopes to tackle the issue of parking for students. He claimed that the current situation with parking is “ridiculous.” Additionally, he wishes to expand places for free speech on campus.

The following question was what the purpose of the ASUN senate is and how they plan to collaborate with other senators.

Dean stated that ASUN senate is an opportunity for him to be a civil servant and give students the best experience possible.

Perez Ramirez claimed it is to be a liaison and not to speak for the voiceless, but speak with them. She hopes to collaborate by going to outreach meetings of fellow senators to help come up with ideas.

Resnik agreed with Perez Ramirez’s statement, claiming that they are there to amplify voices, not speak for them.  We are not here to speak for people, we are here to amplify voices. The job as senator is to find out what needs to be done. Reaching out to students and finding out what needs to be done.

Five minutes of discussion ensued where resnik sparked a conversation on what comes to mind when writing a message to send to the student body.

While Perez Ramirez is new to the legislative process, she hopes she can talk to other senators who do know to help guide her.

Dean reiterated his statement about free speech. He claimed that when outside speakers come to campus, they can only speak in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union and he finds that ridiculous. He does not want to hinder students from hearing messages from all people with different view points.

However, the statement made by Dean about the locationof speaking is incorrect. According to the Student Expression webpage, created for free speech purposes, any outside speaker is allow to speak in any public area at the university.

“…[A]ny individual or group may use specific campus grounds, including outside public areas open to the public such as sidewalks, lawns and plazas, to exercise this constitutionally proctected right,” stated the Student Expression webpage.

The next question asked was what is special about your respective college and how do they plan to advocate for their college as a senator.

Perez Ramirez stated that the Division of Health Sciences is the only stand alone college for social work in Nevada. She hopes to be a good representative for her college and implement the passion for social work at UNR.

Resnik claimed that educators have been at the forefront of movements of social change, as well as by leading the change. He wants to help represent the students who are already substitute teaching or doing student teacher with that are fighting for change already,

Dean on the other hand claimed that his college has been outcasted at UNR due to the disaffiliation of fraternities on campus. He additionally claimed that most fraternity members are business majors to further support his argument.

This brought up another main goal of his, which was to bring Greek Life back on campus.

The last question asked by vaskov was about the meaning of diversity to them and why it is important.

Resnik stated that diversity is the difference and by collecting all of their differences it will make something greater.

Perez Ramirez sees diversity as growth within the community and thoughts. She stated that it is important for ASUN to have diversity so students can see the growth.

Dean claimed diversity is important to hear free flow thoughts.

The floor was then opened up to the audience for questions.

The first audience question asked was about how they plan to be an advocate for students in regards to the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Resnik wishes to reach out to constituents and getting their testimonies to bring to Carson City. He believes their testimony carries a lot of weight and should be heard.

Dean stated that he does not understand all that goes into the legislation writing process, but wants to help in any way that he can.

Perez Ramirez wants to network outside of the ASUN community with all of the people she has met and will meet.

The next question asked was what committees they plan to sit on to help perpetuate their goals.

Dean and Perez Ramirez hope to sit on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee but for different goals. Dean wants to target fraternities within the DEI community to help bring them back on campus. Perez Ramirez wants to sit on the committee to help students feel safe and represent them within the community.

Resnik wants to sit on the Democratic Civic Engagement Committee, as he sees it as a passion of his. He believes it to be the best way to push his goals and get students engagement in the democratic process.

Candidates were then asked what their weaknesses are and how they plan to attack it.

Resnik was very aware of his disorganization, but claimed he has made an active effort to fix it.

Dean stated that he has issues with allocation of his time by taking on too many leadership roles.

Perez Ramirez stated that she has similar issues to Dean with time management due to taking on too many leadership roles. Although, one of her strengths she claimed is not being afraid to ask for help.

One audience question claimed that the current eighty-ninth session has been criticized for being the least productive session in history. They followed it up by asking how they plan to ensure student fees are not being wasted due to lack of productivity.

All students pay a $6.10 fee per credit in their tuition that goes directly to ASUN. The association as a whole generated over $2 million dollars during the 2021 fiscal year, with over $90 thousand going towards senators.

Dean plans to tackle this issue by breaking down bills and legislation into smaller chunks to make it easier to pass. He also plans to make solid ground and connections with other senators.

While hesitant, Resnik stated that more bills need to involve more money in an effort for senators sto “put money where their mouth is.” He also stated that all of the bills being passed right now are just words, or suggestions, and it is not enough.

Perez Ramirez wants to do more outreach via polls and talking directly with constituents, as well as collaborating with other senators.

The last question asked was how they plan to make DEI efforts be made evident, as opposed to just giving lip service.

Both Resnik and Perez Ramirez echoed similar statements about the legislation writing process. The two agreed that senators must bring in communities who they are writing legislation about because they are the ones who can provide the solutions.

Adding on to that sentiment, Perez Ramirez also wants to help Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, students to help provide them with more legal services.

Dean hopes to make true action.

Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at or via Twitter @EmersonDrewes.