On Monday night, the three candidates running for UA President met for their second debate, butting heads on a number of issues and calling for change within the UA.
Unlike the first debate, held last Saturday,this debate was open to a student audience and was more focused on specific issues raised by student groups on campus.
Engineering junior Ahmed Mohieldin, who has served on the UA Steering Committee but never on the Executive Board, was critical of the UA and its work throughout the past year.
“I’m actually glad to be the candidate running without experience,” Mohieldin said when asked about his experience, considering the first UA meeting he attended was the previous day. “As a culture, it [the UA] is ineffective, it’s bureaucratic. … It’s really disappointing because there’s so many interesting things the UA could do, and they get drowned out with a lot of incomplete projects.”
Mohieldin focused on calling for a change in the UA culture consistently throughout the debate, criticizing its most recent annual report, which he claimed contained many incomplete projects just to make the UA look good.
Meanwhile, College junior and UA Treasurer Kat McKay used her experience as treasurer to shut down a question about trying to get an increase in UA funding.
Asking for a bigger budget, she said, would mean more money coming from tuition dollars — the opposite of the UA's goal of limiting increases in tuition. She also mentioned that the UA’s budget was already pretty generous.
College junior and UA Vice President Ray Clark also bolstered his arguments by referencing his experience on the UA.
When asked about how to avoid low attendance at UA meetings, Clark suggested reaching out to younger members about their projects, allowing them to become more engaged and pursue their projects collaboratively.
Clark called on his experience again when the candidates were asked about the issue of sexual assault while students are studying abroad, a topic that was brought up during a University Council meeting last semester.
McKay advocated for more conversations between the UA and sexual assault advocacy groups on campus, while Clark called for a change in the culture surrounding sexual assault, bringing both men and women into the conversation.
Mohieldin responded by citing a lack of knowledge on campus of the protocol surrounding sexual assault, arguing that no one will read a 30-page guide, and the processes should be clarified.
The debate ended with closing statements from each candidate. Clark told the audience that he is the candidate who can bring people from different backgrounds together to unite the campus. Mohieldin advocated for changing the internal culture of the UA and changing how it interacts with the rest of the University, while McKay emphasized what she called a “comprehensive platform” that “appeals to everyone.”
The next debate will be held on March 29 in the Harrison Rooftop Lounge from 10 p.m. to midnight and will feature both the presidential and vice presidential candidates.
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