VP of University Affairs and V.P. of External Relations candidates square off

by Will Fritz, Senior Staff Writer

Candidates for Associated Students Vice President of University Affairs and VP of External Relations faced off in a debate at noon on March 6 at the Lee and Frank Goldberg Courtyard.

Michael Kumura, Chris Thomas and Brie Hornig are the candidates for VP of University Affairs.

Samantha Ledesma and Carmel Alon are the candidates for vice president of external relations.

Candidates first delivered their opening statements, and were given up to two minutes to respond to questions.

With a few exceptions, all candidates were given the same questions.

Among the issues discussed during the debate was a recent proposal by the Native American Student Alliance to retire the university’s Aztec mascot.

Thomas, Kumura and Alon all suggested creating a dialogue with students to come to a conclusion about the mascot.

“We do have students that feel their voices aren’t being heard and they feel that this is a mascot that — it is inappropriate,” Kumura said. “We need to have this discussion with them. But in regards to that as well, I believe that we should have a referendum where students are able to vote upon this issue so that the whole general body can make that decision.”

Hornig and Ledesma both affirmed their support for the retirement of the mascot.

“Our mascot reinforces the institutionalized racism that is at our school,” Hornig said. “Even in our architecture of all of our different buildings, it is built mission-style, and it reflects the deaths of Native Americans that were killed within the missions.”

The candidates were also asked to explain the motivations of their respective slates.

Thomas and Alon are on the Transform SDSU slate, while Hornig and Ledesma are part of the Stride SDSU slate, which stands for “STudents for Reform, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.” Kumura is running independently.

“Really, when we say Transform SDSU, we want to bridge the gap between the student body that is not represented in AS council and the administrators,” Thomas said.

Hornig said her slate’s mission was to ensure “students from every single community are heard.”

Candidates were later asked how they planned to increase transparency with student media.

Ledesma said she wants to work with The Daily Aztec to help promote events on campus.

“I think we really need to focus on bringing in more broad perspectives and talking about different events that our college councils are hosting, that other organizations are hosting, and other issues like that,” she said.

Alon said she wanted to work on a “State of State” newsletter to get A.S. messages out to the student body.

Students were given the option to submit questions to the moderators using Facebook and Twitter. One twitter user asked the candidates how they plan to support undocumented and international students who may feel unsafe or afraid.

Ledesma said she wants to lobby local and state governments to support these students.

“One of the things I plan to do is lead by example, and really be an advocate for these students,” she said.

Alon said while SDSU has made “positive strides in ensuring the protection of all students” by endorsing a California legislative version of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, she thinks the university needs to do more.

“We need to implement plans that show we are thinking about their safety first,” she said.

Alon said she wants to work with the CSU Educational Opportunity Program, Education Without Borders and Student Affairs to promote a “DREAMer resource center.”


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