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This year, the student body will elect a minority president of the Undergraduate Assembly.

Wharton and Engineering junior Tyler Ernst, former chair of the Lambda Alliance, is running against College junior Cornelius Range, a member at large of the United Minorities Council.

At the Diversity at Penn presidential debate Saturday evening, Ernst and Range fielded questions submitted by cultural groups on campus. Both stressed that topics regarding minorities and diversity on campus are very important to their campaigns.

College junior and Lambda Alliance’s Vice Chair of Political Affairs Victor Galli said that this election will draw more votes from minorities on campus.

“These populations may not have voted at all in the past because none of the candidates expressed interest in these minority issues,” he said.

Minorities often feel that they have no strong representation within public discourse, the media and leadership positions, he added. “It’s really important for the future of Penn to have more leaders to represent minorities, who in the past haven’t been given their share of the spotlight.”

Ernst and Wharton junior Faye Cheng, candidate for vice president, see minority faculty recruitment and retention, transgender health preventives and mental health as priorities for the UA. They also wish to promote the Greenfield Intercultural Center as a space for groups such as the Muslim Students Association.

Range and his running partner, College junior Adam Hamilton, wish to break down the barriers between the “five big” minority coalitions including the Asian Pacific Student Coalition, Lambda Alliance, UMOJA, Latino Coalition and UMC.

“While [the 5B] all promote minority interests, they create a divide and keep people confined. We’re all more alike than different,” Range said.

Range wants “true democracy in the UA” by holding summit meetings to bring together all groups on campus, from “athletes to music people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ernst and Faye wish to promote diversity of representation through the UA’s Steering Committee in order to provide resources and support to different groups.

Ernst spoke about how he had a homogenous and conservative childhood, where he knew only one Jewish person and none identifying as LGBT.

“Penn was obviously a huge wake up call [in diversity],” he said. Since coming to Penn, Ernst has really enjoyed “chai chats” with the APSC, Unity Week and events with the Lambda Alliance.

Range, on the other hand, comes from a multiracial and humble upbringing. “It isn’t all about race and ethnicity, however,” he said. “Race is subconscious [in this election], but in the end, the best man will win.”

The UMC, Lambda Alliance, Assembly of International Students, the Penn Consortium of Undergraduate Women, APSC and PRISM have officially endorsed Ernst and Cheng for president and vice president. Many other cultural groups plan to release their official endorsements for UA candidates within the next few days.

“Our endorsement will be a good way to convey to our community how to best help us in our quest,” Galli said.

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