The Associated Students of the University of Nevada debates started on Feb. 15 in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center Auditorium. The first schools to debate are the College of Engineering, School of Public Health and the Division of Health Sciences.
The candidates running are Jefrin Jojan, Anthony Kuhl and Andrew Thompson for the College of Engineering; Liam Brown and Emma Bergren for the School of Public Health; Esmeralda Perez Ramirez for the Division of Health Sciences.
All contestants are running unopposed.
Dawson Frost and Amanda Vaskov, co-directors of elections, was asking the questions for the debate
College of Engineering
The College of Engineering took the stage first for the debate.
Antony Kuhl, majoring in mechanical engineering, will be in his first term as a senator if elected. As for his background, he works in outreach for the mechanical engineering department and does videography work. In high school he was the senatorial team captain for his speech and debate team.
Kuhl hopes to ensure equal opportunities for all students of all backgrounds, specifically when acquiring technology.
Jefrin Jojan, studying computer science, is running for re-election within the College of Engineering. During the eighty-ninth session he authored legislation to raise the minimum wage for students, which was tabled and remains at committee.
If re-elected, Jojan hopes to increase wages for all students, increase affordable housing on and off campus and make sure everyone has equitable access to campus.
Andrew Thompson, chemical engineering major, is also running for re-election. During his term, he co-authored a piece in support of the vaccine mandate.
Thompson hopes to support the use of education resources within classrooms, a piece of legislation currently at committee, making dining options more accessible and increasing undergraduate research for the College of Engineering.
The first question asked was “what are some things you will do to build community on campus as a senator?”
Thompson sees the role of senator as the first line of defense for students in their respective colleges. He hopes for senators to get involved
First line of defense inside the association. One way we can be engaged is by being involved with clubs and orgs. Interact with peers on campus. Assist with programming and attending those events to engage and interact with the community.
Jojan stated he is focused on seeing what students want from ASUN. A way he does and plans to continue is by giving contact information and letting constituents know he is there for them. Outreach is a priority for him to hear student voices.
Kuhl agreed with Jojan and believes that being present at events is also valuable. Additionally, he hopes to encourage intercollicular activities throughout other schools to build more community.
The second question asked was about the purpose of the ASUN senate and how they plan to collaborate with other senators.
Kuhl stated that he plans to partner with any and every senator that he possibly can to garner insight and experience within ASUN as a first term senator.
Making sure the students’ voices are heard and reflected within legislation is a priority for Jojan because ASUN’s actions “reflect the voices of our students.”.
Something he is currently doing and plans to continue is to collaborate with other senators to author and sponsor legislation and pass them.
Thompson believes ASUN is a great program for the university. Additionally he believes that ASUN needs to continue to serve the students through programs and events. Some programs he mentioned were Pack Provisions and the Digital Initiative.
Thompson hopes to create liaisons with administration to help students have a more direct line of communication with those higher up within the campus community.
Thompson puts an emphasis on undergraduate research and strives to advocate further for those programs to help with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Increasing funding either through the state or through the university is a way he seeks to expand this opportunity.
Working with clubs and organizations is also something he plans to help hear all voices on campus.
Thompson also works on the K-12 outreach program, which goes to low-income schools in the area to expose communities to what they are capable of doing.
DEI, according to Jojan, means that all backgrounds have fair and equitable access to the university. He mentioned work with the UNR Police Department when Eric James, chief of police, visited the senate to introduce himself. Jojan claimed that he asked many questions on how their treatment of students of color and met with him further to help keep them accountable.
Additionally, Jojan hopes to work towards student loan forgiveness in Nevada with state representatives and stated that student loan forgiveness has been a barrier for student success.
Jojan also works with the Digital Initiative in the @One, which lends out technology to students who either cannot afford it or are awaiting repairs.
Kuhl immediately praised the Digital Initiative as well, claiming that it is a way to further equitable education for all students. Kuhl himself comes from a low-income background and wants to further emphasize the resources the university has for students who also come from his same background.
Kuhl also wishes to visit high schools and middle schools within the area to help educate students on what an engineer does and how that career is attainable for them
An audience member asked about what resources the College of Engineering provides for students for after graduation success and if their college is adequate at this. Amanda Vaskov
Jojan claimed that it was a “mixed bag” and encouraged outreach to help students actively apply and accrue those internships.
Thompson again emphasized research opportunities for students and increased funding. He also claimed the right students were not finding out about the resources they have and it needs to be properly communicated.
Kuhl agreed with fellow candidates and also offered a different suggestion. He claimed the college is known for it’s rigorous schedule which hidners students from getting those resources. He seeks to implement those opportunities within the class schedule, like lectures of speakers.
School of Public Health
Emma Bergren, second year student studying pre-nursing and public health, is running for re-election. She claimed she has embedded herself in the association and has used outreach to further reach students
Affordable housing is a passion project she hopes to continue to work on and is the chair for the special committee on Off-campus housing.
Liam Brown, second year student studying public health, passionate about serving communities. He sas a legislative intern for the eighty-ninth session.
The first question was how the University of Nevada, Reno experience has been for them and how they can improve it for their constituency.
Both candidates echoed similar sentiments of a sense of togetherness throughout the campus.
Bergren stated that she appreciated the school and all she does for their students. She admired how the university gave all of the freshman iPad’s through the Digital Wolfpack Initiative. Through the pandemic, Bergren claimed she has seen students come together throughout.
Her plans to improve it by creating a new building to help students feel at home in the School of Public Health.
Brown had a similar response and claimed he felt a large sense of community on campus.
The following question was about how they plan to communicate with their constituency.
Bergren sees outreach as the number one priority as a senator. She also sits on the advisory board for the School of Public Health.
“If I am not doing outreach, then I am simply not doing my job,” said Bergren.
Liam Brown thinks that tabling is one way to see what the students want, along with the use of social media to push out polls.
The following question asked was addressing the greatest challenge for students and how they plan to address it.
Brown claimed that there is a lack of understanding in our student government about what they do. He believes students and ASUN can do more to understand how they work and what is there for them.
Brown echoed a similar statement of Bergren’s— that a building would be very helpful. With the large campus, Brown found that it was difficult to get to classes on time with buildings so far apart.
Bergren claimed that food and housing have been some of the biggest issues on campus. She hopes to make efforts for affordable housing on and off campus so students never have to worry about a basic need.
Additionally, Bergren claimed that we are in a food desert and meal options are limited. She wishes to implement more dining options and more meal trade options on campus.
The candidates were then questioned on what they know about the legislative process.
According to Bergren, legislation is one of the most beneficial things ASUN does. She stated how much she enjoyed the committee process and seeing edits on how legislation can affect all students. Turning outreach into legislation is eye opening to Bergren as well.
Tackling big legislation topics is a way for legislation to fail according to Bergren. When working through her own legislative process she tends to divide and tackle so students can benefit from all.
Brown stated as a legislative intern, he believed he could not fully grasp how legislation worked, but has a good understanding. He enjoyed seeing the committee work and collaboration within the association.
How they plan to build community was another question they were asked.
Brown wished to make himself a presence outside of the office and the senate table and make sure he is available for all students at all times.
Programming events is something Bergren sees as very beneficial to build community. One thing she enjoyed was working with the other departments within ASUN. Next session, Bergren wants to work with programming and other departments to create less of a departmentalized association and help work together.
One of the last questions asked was about what diversity means to them.
Diversity is something extremely important to Bergren. She claimed that growing up in the Bay Area, she was “constantly surrounded by diversity.” She believes that if ASUN is not serving a diverse audience then there is no point.
Brown stated that he loves learning about new things and new people.
“I am not afraid to talk to people to learn about what I need to diversify,” said Brown during the debate.
Lastly, they were asked about what the purpose of the senate is in their eyes.
The purpose of the ASUN senate is to get feedback input and outreach from our students according to Bergren. She hopes to deliver to students concerns even on campus and off campus.
Brown sees ASUN senate as the biggest voice for students and a great way to increase DEI initiatives to reach all corners of the university.
Emerson Drewes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @EmersonDrewes.