The Associated Students of the University of Nevada vice presidential candidates, Autumn Kidd and Bayla Fitzpatrick, closed out the debates for the 2022 election season on March 8.
Kidd is running alongside Leslie Ramirez in their campaign “For ALL Students.” Currently, Kidd serves as a second term senator for the School of Public Health. She is also the chair for the Committee on Academic and Civic Engagement.
Fitzpatrick’s running mate is Dionne Stanfill under the campaign “Stronger with Nevada.” She currently serves as the senator for the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources and the chair for the Committee on Government Operations.
Questions were being asked by Dawson Frost and Amanda Vaskov, co-directors of elections, and members of the audience either in person or via Zoom. Candidates were given two minutes to answer each question and two minutes of rebuttal to clarify or expand on ideas.
According to members of clubs and organizations, it is difficult to navigate the internal processes. Candidates were asked how they will help them navigate this process or simplify it.
Fitzpatrick started off by stating improved communication will help solve many issues. She plans to do so through advertising and marketing to make it known where and how to receive club funding.
Kidd wants to reach out to students to let them know what resources are available for them. Additionally, she critiqued PackLife, the University of Nevada, Reno’s website that allows students to be aware of on campus opportunities.
Kidd claimed it to be hard to navigate, therefore she hopes to create an app so students can find it easier to attend events.
During Fitzpatrick’s rebuttal she claimed that PackLife is accessible, but students just do not know about it. Again, she stressed communication of these platforms and resources
While Kidd agreed about the communication aspect, she still believes it to be inaccessible and difficult to use to its fullest extent.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and other environmental factors, the mental health of college students has been in a decline. The two were questioned on this topic and how they plan to prioritize student wellness.
Kidd claimed that students are struggling finding a safe space on campus and students have seen a decrease in social skills due to the pandemic. If elected, Kidd wants to reach out to “niches” of students to help them create a space where they feel comfortable.
Fitzpatrick hopes to tackle this issue through medical and professional help. Her plans include working with the Student Health Center, director of Campus Wellness or working with psychology students to increase accessibility to psychological services.
Additionally, she believes that encouraging students to come voice their concerns to the association is problematic and wants to reach out to them instead.
During Kidd’s rebuttal she claimed that while she understands the medical side of things “it doesn’t always have to be like that.”
She wants to ensure students feel comfortable first before reaching out to professional services. A way Kidd hopes to achieve this is by opening up a soup shop to help students feel more at home.
In Fitzpatrick’s rebuttal she stated that she believes in medical professionals and believes in medicine.
“Mental health is not something that can be fixed with some soup,” said Fitzpatrick during the debate.
Many students on campus finance their education through loans. Kidd and Fitzpatrick were questioned on how they will ensure students can manage their finances properly and not have increasing debt overtime.
Something stressed by both Kidd and Ramirez during their separate debates is their planned financial literacy program. This program plans to help students improve their finances through education on investing or tax seminars.
Fitzpatrick wants to improve the programs funded through ASUN– an example given is the Pack Internship Grant Program which gives the opportunity for students to earn money through a university funded internship.
The two were then asked whose leadership style they admire.
Fitzpatrick said her mother is her biggest leadership inspiration. She claimed she was a single mother who put herself through college.
Kidd said past ASUN president Anthony Martinez, who served during the eight-seventh session. She admired how he stood by his beliefs and owned who he was.
The two were asked to imagine one of their primary initiatives was opposed by the administration and how they would respond to their opposition.
Fitzpatrick stated that she would first ensure the initiative is something the students actually want and being consistent with administration on the needs of the students.
Kidd claimed a lot of this question comes down to having a good relationship with administration. This is something she stated to have already accomplished through her relationship with Shannon Ellis, vice president of Student Services.
Sexual assault is rampant on college campuses and UNR is no different. Both were asked how they plan to stand by survivors.
Getting accurate statistics is something Fitzpatrick hopes to achieve as a first step in standing by survivors. She claimed Title IX services are not always welcoming to work with, so she wants to ensure things get done through having the conversation with constituents.
Kidd agreed with Fitzpatrick on the statistics and claimed they are grossly inaccurate. She also stated that it is hard for survivors to prosecute their assaulters because of the amount of evidence they are required to provide. She wants to break down that barrier to make help more accessible.
Additionally, se hopes to bring back campus cadets, a service UNR used to offer that had cadets walk people back to their car and or dorm
The first question asked was what leadership quality distinguishes each opponent from one another.
Kidd claimed to have an accumulation of leadership qualities, but stated that her willingness to communicate and take feedback was her strongest. has an accumulation of leadership qualities. Open communicator and is open to feedback.
Fitzpatrick cited her passion, tenacity and work ethic and reassured that she is not running for vice president because she thought it would be a “fun gig.”.
One audience member stated that both are new to ASUN and questioned what makes them qualified and prepared to be vice president.
Kidd is currently serving as a second term senator, therefore she does not view herself as new to the association. She stated that she actually advocates for what students want and cited her past pieces of legislation.
During the eighty-eight session, Kidd helped author a piece of legislation in support of satisfactory/unsatisfactory grade scales. In her vice presidency she wants to continue to advocate for Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, as she has done in the past with a piece of legislation encouraging more accessibility on campus.
Fitzpatrick is in her first term, but believes that she has still achieved great things. She cited her work as the chair for the committee on Government Operations and claimed to have done more for the committee than anyone else that session.
Fitzpatrick also stated that she sits on the ADA accessibility committee and shares the same passion for ADA as Kidd.
The next audience member made it evident that students critique the culture of ASUN. They were asked what the culture of ASUN is like during the current eighty-ninth session and how they plan to change or improve the culture for their session.
Fitzpatrick claimed to have heard the critique often and plans to change the culture by doing a rebrand of ASUN. In doing so, she hopes more students feel more comfortable to engage with ASUN and the Center for Student Engagement.
According to Kidd, she has heard the same critiques and the culture makes people shy away from the association. She wants to improve this by having conversations with students to make them feel more comfortable in the association.
Both campaigns have diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at the forefront of their campaign. An audience member put into question how they will represent the large percentage of students of color on campus as white passing women.
Kidd wants to include more students of color safe spaces and safe spaces for people to pray.
Fitzpatrick claimed that in hiring a diverse cabinet with diverse voices she will ensure DEI efforts remain strong. She mentioned her campaign’s plan for a senior leadership committee which will invite students of all backgrounds to voice their concerns on the university.
During the debate both mentioned improving ADA regulations on campus. The audience members asked what tangible policies they plan to put in place to increase ADA accessibility.
Fitzpatrick currently serves as a resident assistant in a dorm and claims that many students cannot access the place where they live. She wants to implement more places for students to access their living space and classes.
Kidd claimed to go on safety walks with Facilities Services every quarter to map the accessibility of the campus. She wants to increase ADA accessible doors because all buildings are only required to have one.
Kidd also critiqued the Disability Resource Center for making students provide proof or a diagnosis of disability to access resources. She wants to destroy this barrier so all students can have access to their resources.
The final audience question asked was what steps do both plan to take to continue the support of sports programming on campus.
Fitzpatrick claimed to be very passionate about sports on campus and has many initiatives she wants to implement. Some mentioned were: bringing back Greek Night at basketball games, a bigger homecoming week and supporting the free intramural athletic teams.
Additionally, Fitzpatrick stated a lack of participation in female athletics and wants to change that
Kidd also noted the lack of participation in female sports and wants to start a raffle for students who can prove they went to the women’s games. Kidd also wants to continue to construction on the indoor field house to combat the struggle of practicing during fire season.
Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @EmersonDrewes.