Some candidates running for Associated Students positions for the 2022-2023 year debated and answered student audience questions Tuesday and Thursday of last week in the student union.
The majority of the major A.S. positions are running unopposed this year, including the A.S. president — a phenomenon we haven’t seen at San Diego State since 2018.
Our SDSU is the only full slate running in the 2022 A.S. elections.
Many veteran A.S. employees attribute this to the return to in-person instruction last fall after the virtual year. This return during the third leg of the pandemic led to a widespread feeling of burnout our campus community has never experienced before. Many organizations and clubs on campus have seen this burnout play out while looking for replacements for their major leadership roles.
Our SDSU candidate running for Vice President of University Affairs Sandy Mekany debated with independent candidate Alicia Morales on March 15.
Major issues covered included the recent debate over the Kumeyaay land acknowledgement, the technology and sustainability fee, changing mask mandates and COVID-19 regulations on campus, mental health initiatives and more.
“Having to pay all of my living expenses and tuition directly out of pocket, I know what it means to not have my voice heard,” Morales said. “So, these extra fees don’t help what I’m trying to pay off what I can. We have the resources as a university to make sure students are involved (with new proposed fees).”
Mekany also spoke about Greek life in relation to other organizations and communities on campus.
“We do have that disconnection between Greek life, our cultural organizations, our resource centers, so instead of making them against each other, I think we should all work together to ensure all of our students have a place at the school,” Mekany said.
Morales said she believes that disconnect is growing on campus.
“As someone who is not an active person in Greek life, I do believe that disconnect is very visible on campus and it also is something that is really growing, that gap is widening,” Morales said. “It is on us as student leaders on campus to represent all voices and be the ones to bridge the gap. Ultimately, we are what connects everyone.”
Morales said her top three priorities if elected to V.P. of University Affairs are inclusion, organization and outreach.
Mekany said her’s would be to make class enrollment more efficient and convenient for students, to collaborate with university administration to show them the correlation between academic performance and mental health, and to provide platforms to amplify student voices.
The two candidates for V.P. of University Affairs also spoke on whether or not they agreed with how the university handled the return to in-person instruction.
“It was a very difficult situation figuring out what was best practices, but I want to acknowledge that our students come first, and there was a lot of distrust between our students and lack of honest conversations,” Mekany said. “If students aren’t aware of what is going on on-campus, that will affect them in terms of mental health, their finances, their housing security… It could’ve been handled better and, while I acknowledge how hard it was, I still stick with the students when I say we need more transparent conversations.”
Morales agreed, saying the switch back in person brought unprecedented problems the university hasn’t ever had to deal with.
“I’ve seen or heard recently, and I’m not sure of the exact validity of the statement, that there is concern for removing some online courses for the following semester,” Morales said. “I think that’s a huge mistake on the university’s part because I think a lot of students are still concerned with the effects of the pandemic. We need to be accessible to students no matter where they are.”
Both candidates agreed that there needed to be consistent rules on where students can wear masks on campus.
Mekany spoke about the university setting unclear standards and makes it difficult for students to know where mask practices are in place.
Editor’s note: A previously published version of this article had incorrect information regarding candidate Alicia Morales. This error has been removed from the article to maintain accuracy. The Daily Aztec regrets this error and apologizes to all those affected by this mistake.