In the midst of election season, Broncos readied themselves with boba in hand to hear the new candidates debate in the University Quad on Thursday, April 11. 

Presidential candidate Itzia Salinas at the 2019 ASI candidate debate at the University Quad. (Taylor Boomsma / The Poly Post)

While ASI advertised this event as a debate, a more fitting name would have been “Candidate Statements.” 

Each ticket team was read a question to which they had two minutes to answer before the next candidate was asked the same question. There was no debate.

Each presidential candidate answered what they thought the most important campus issue is and what he or she believes being a leader means.

For the vice president candidates, they were asked how they plan to address student mental health on campus. 

The first presidential candidate, Joshua Hernandez, a third-year technology and operations management student, mentioned the campus issues he plans to address if elected. 

Hernandez talked about the lack of student engagement on campus and, if elected, he plans to encourage a better campus experience and is especially interested in promoting a stronger relationship with university athletics. 

Diego Montoya, a third-year business student, who is running for president, talked about his views on what it means to be a leader. 

Being a leader is being someone who can relate to the student body effectively, Montoya said. One thing he wants to focus on is encouraging and promoting more interactions between the student government and the student body. 

Richard Barcelo, a third-year political science student, and Montoya’s running partner, said making students aware of mental health resources is essential.

“It’s really important  that more students are just aware of the resources we have, trying to keep students aware of the resources we have is our biggest interest,” Barcelo said. 

Fourth-year architecture student Itzia Salinas focused more on inclusion of underrepresented students. 

“One of our priorities is to allow and fund grants for [undocumented students],” Salinas said. “I think that’s what a leader should stand for and what a leader is, to be there for the people and build a community.”

Lastly, running for president was third-year finance, real estate and law student Pasindu Senaratne, who confidently took the microphone and spoke about the lack of engagement on campus. 

“How do we get students to stay on campus?” Senaratne asked. “We create a space for them. Making sure clubs and organizations are encouraged and promoted from as early as orientation to ensure student participation.”

Senaratne also spoke about leadership.

“Being a good and successful leader means you understand everybody’s different experiences and influence them further,” he said. “It’s not about just bringing your own perspective.”

Vice presidential candidate and third-year political science student Rachel Hunter dove right into her three-pronged approach to address student mental health on campus. 

Hunter’s plan to improve student mental health involves increasing already present campus resources. The next step is to advertise those services to various clubs and organizations. Finally, Hunter suggested creating more spaces for students to relieve stress on campus, which would mean an increase in funding for clubs and councils. 

All in all, the so-called “debates” took less than 15 minutes for the president and vice president candidates to give their statements before the event moved on to the college senators debate. 

Voting is open online until Thursday, April 18 at 7 a.m. The results will be announced that same day and celebrations will ensue at University Park from noon to 1 p.m. 

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