This year, ASCMC held Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates at Pickford Auditorium on Saturday, February 22 from 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. to discuss issues ranging from sexual assault to the social scene. To help keep you in the loop, The Forum will be presenting a live update of the debate.
The structure of the Debate included 4-5 pre-submitted questions with a maximum of 2-minute answers. After, the audience had the opportunity to ask any questions with a maximum of 1-minute answers.
Question 1: How do you plan to run ASCMC Executive Board meetings?
Ben: This is one of the most visible roles as ASCMC President. Overall, the President’s role is as a facilitator. The President is the person who sets the agenda every meeting. We talk a lot about event debriefs and institutional changes, but not much outside of this. I want to change Board meetings to focus on more than these topics by expanding the agenda. My leadership role is very hands-on. For example, I was at every TNC, including set up and clean up, so I was involved in every step of the process.
Julian: I had the opportunity to see a lot of different leadership styles in Executive Board over the last three years, including delegating, facilitating meetings, and setting the agenda. The number one thing I have learned is that it is really important to include a lot of peoples’ opinions in these discussions. It is important that everyone feels comfortable in contributing. I will focus a lot on forming personal connections, personal touch. This type of community in Executive Board will allow debates to be substantive. I will also hold separate meetings with Executive Board members throughout the semester. I don’t think people who have different opinions should be shut down during the meetings. I want to make sure everyone is informed through communication. The President sets the pace, the precedent of the body, so a President’s willingness to listen to others is really important.
Jeff: From the Executive Board meetings I have attended, the conversation is more focused on updates instead of communication. Strong team dynamics lead to strong results. Once the team works well together, they can come together to produce the best possible result. Another thing about Executive Board meetings is that the guests have moved to sit away from the center of the table. I think guests should be actively involved in the conversation and should have their opinions heard. When you’re sitting in the back of the room, you can be overlooked and not part of the conversation. We might need to move the location of the Executive Board meetings to be more conducive to a larger crowd.
Question 2: Besides the social scene, what is the most pressing question related to student life? What role does ASCMC play in this?
Julian: People’s willingness to engage is really important. Many people come from different backgrounds, so many have a difficult time voicing their opinions. A great platform to address these concerns is through Senate. We also need to look inwards. We plan a lot of events, so we need to make sure we know what is going on within the body. We need someone to audit the organization to make sure we are operating effectively and efficiently.
Jeff: I think one of the biggest issues is safety, particularly sexual assault. We shouldn’t be waiting for President Chodosh to send us an email about sexual assault in order to take action on this issue. One thing that shocks me about CMC is the lack of blue lights. We need to start paying attention to things that other colleges are implementing regarding safety and sexual assault. Sometimes DOS takes actions based on claims that seem unsafe, so it would serve us well to address safety to align ourselves with DOS’s primary objective.
Ben: The student fee increase. ASCMC is asking to raise student fees by $15. I think it is unsustainable for current freshmen if the amount of student fees keeps increasing year after year. The rising costs of college is concerning. We need to send a message to the Board of Trustees that it would be nice to get this money, but we need to not be complacent about the rising costs to tuition.
Question 3: Why might someone not vote for you? And how might you respond to his or her concerns?
Jeff: I think the most obvious thing is that I have no formal ASCMC experience without an elected position on the board. A lot of my platform is to reform ASCMC even though I have not had a formal role. I think it would be a positive, however, to have someone with less specific ASCMC experience come in as an outside party and reform the organization with an objective opinion.
Ben: I have a good relationship with the Dean of Students Office. To those people, I would say that this good relationship with DOS doesn’t mean I can’t stand up for the things people care about. I really want people to judge based on my track record, i.e., TNC in the pool, in Baldy lot, etc. With respect between ASCMC and DOS, I think a lot can be accomplished. Another thing: There was a time last year, where all the Dorm Presidents felt strongly about Noah’s Arc TNC, but I didn’t think it would be well attended. I really valued considering peoples’ opinions, but I thought it was good to use discretion in that case.
Julian: Most peoples’ worries about my candidacy is a perceived lack of experience. 1) If the worry is that I don’t know how ASCMC works, I have gone to Senate consistently throughout my three years. 2) If the worry is I don’t have clout with my administration, I have worked closely with the President’s Office and DOS to launch the CIE. A lot of the experience needed for president is how to lead and how you work with students, experience I have with CIE and SOURCE. I think working with different students has given me exposure on how to communicate with students. If we want to address how to change these issues, we need to have a new voice. We need a new start if we want to push ASCMC in a new direction.
Question 4: Why are there no female candidates for this position?
Ben: The women I have worked with on ASCMC have been wonderful. I want to take into consideration both gender and ethnic diversity through elected positions on ASCMC. I think this is a really great question and raises a lot of great issues with the nature of ASCMC elections. I’ll make sure if I’m elected to bring as many different perspectives to ASCMC as possible.
Julian: We see a lot of great women leaders throughout our campus. We need to look specifically at ASCMC as to why this organization operates such that women are deterred. We need to do an internal audit of ASCMC to understand the factors of diversity that play into these decisions. It is important to really look inside to make sure we understand how to better facilitate this organization.
Jeff: A position on ASCMC requires a lot of trade-offs. Deciding whether to run for President or Vice President requires both a vision and confidence to execute on this vision. ASCMC takes a lot of time and is sometimes frustrating too. This might turn people off of the position, regardless of gender. The rest of other positions on campus (i.e., Rose Institute, SOURCE) have strong female leaders. Lastly, it is important to look at CMC culture with broad gender norms to see why certain positions are more predisposed to girls versus boys.
Question 5: What is your simple idea to improve CMC?
Julian: Within Senate is a Campus Improvement Committee with $5000 that, for the most part, goes unused. I think we should open up that fund so that it contributes to our campus and how we all interact within our campus.
Jeff: The simple idea I have is a change in focus for ASCMC from parties and events to other social issues. The implementation of that will be more complicated than the idea itself, it will have long lasting change beyond this administration.
Ben: My concrete simple idea is an Indian Wedding Party. A lot of international students are interested in this experience. This would be a ton of fun for all students.
Question 6: The salary of ASCMC President is very large. How important do you think that salary is? Is it something that can be cut?
Jeff: The current stipend spending is less than 5% of the budget. Obviously, the stipends are not going to go up. The Presidential stipend is tied to funding from DOS. The stipend is really unevenly allocated among members. There should be some sort of motivator so that people need to act in order to receive the stipend.
Ben: Stipends are an interesting issue, but many people are not on ASCMC for the money. The reason for the Presidential stipend is to make the positions of RA and President similar on a monetary basis. Some of the Presidents have given half of their stipend back. For me, this is possible, since I don’t feel comfortable taking that much money from student fees.
Julian: This is a really complicated issue. Presidents in the past have tried to mitigate how large the stipend is. None of us in this position were choosing between applying for RA and running for President. I think it should be put up to the students. It is difficult for us to decide this because it affects us too much. Student input would help to make this decision.
Question 7: What are you going to do with your Presidential Advisors?
Ben: I want Advisors with experience in elements of ASCMC, who are willing to spearhead issues and bring ideas to the table. This is not necessarily someone involved in ASCMC but can be anyone who is a team player and excited to help with ASCMC responsibilities.
Julian: I think it is always helpful to see someone interested in certain initiatives, certain events. I think it’s important to have someone willing to help with the inner workings of Executive Board. I’ve thought of involving a lot of people, who can help with social changes, whether it’s helping with leading committees or spearheading initiatives.
Jeff: I want one advisor who can attend ASCMC Executive Board Meetings and another advisor passionate about implementing changes through a Cabinet dealing with social issues.
Question 8: What is your opinion of White Party getting cancelled? How would you have dealt with this scenario?
Julian: I was abroad during this time, so I saw this issue from afar. Elements of White Party were fun while others hurt student safety. Whatever decision is made should be made by Executive Board together. It is important for us to work together to provide a solid front to the student body and administration.
Jeff: As a student, I didn’t think I was kept in the loop for this decision. The current party planning committee came up with a great alternative, but the Board did not back the event planners as well as they could have.
Ben: There’s a perpetual issue of White Party going way over budget. We said we’re canceling White Party and substituting in Chainsmokers instead. If there is a demand for it on campus, I would be comfortable with the Chainsmokers event.
Question 9: What is your opinion on the 7C Sexual Assault Committee? How would you deal with sexual assault as a whole?
Jeff: Sexual assault is a huge issue. I think there are few ways ASCMC can change this. First, we need to educate people by start regimenting it more in Orientation Programs. Sexual assault education should be required to get Internet access, for example, to make sure it is required for all students. The reporting process of sexual assault is brutal. We need to make the reporting process easier, so that people are more comfortable with talking about the issue.
Ben: ASCMC has a lot of soft power on campus. A lot of sexual assault arise from social events with alcohol. One thing I’m doing as DAC is hosting events that are less driven by alcohol. It is important for Event Staff working these events should be training on how to deal with these issues to prevent the problem before it actually happens.
Julian: We can’t wait for DOS to send these emails to us. ASCMC needs to take a more active stance. Potentially, we can have Senate committees with people passionate about these issue. We should work with DOS to have mandatory training on how to deal with these issues.
Ben: I will not raise student fees as ASCMC President. I have experience, which is important to find new direction with the Board. You need experience to know what’s not working and how to make it better.
Julian: We need to make sure that ASCMC is less fragmented, more accessible. We need to make sure it’s more proactive and less reactionary. We need to be on the front line shaping these issues. We need to take a meaningful look at ASCMC, taking advantage of the creativity and the variety of backgrounds on campus.
Jeff: As a transfer student, I have seen the luxury of seeing a large student government, focusing on issues outside of event planning. I am a realistic, results-driven person.
VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
Question 1: What issues in particular are you interested in focusing on as Vice President?
Aseem: We need to not compromise on the quality of student government. We need to reform ASCMC Executive Board and Senate to have it live streamed. Senate has turned into a rubber stamp for what Executive Board does. We need to pass resolutions in Senate. The student government needs to be reformed and I will allow this reform for happen.
Will: Communication is definitely an issue that needs to be fixed through community. I founded the Outdoors Initiative to expand opportunities for students on campus. I think it is really important to have corporate sponsorships, for example, the New York Times. I have worked closely with Executive Board members this past year, and I will continue to work with them and support them in any way possible.
Michael: I have been on the Board for a year now, and I have noticed we talk about a lot of things internally instead of things that really matter. I want to make ASCMC matter. We are sort of like a desktop computer, not really accessible to anyone. We need to operate like an iPhone. We should make Fridays a thing, working with SLC and CPB (day trip in Los Angeles, hiking in Baldy), which would make a difference in our social scene. I want to set up a group of Senators, who develop resolutions, so that students can take an active role in policy changes.
Question 2: How would you deal with a difference of agreement with the ASCMC President?
Will: Disagreements arise because there are a lot of discussions that take place between the two parties. Given a disagreement, we need to open up to the Executive Board and the student body. I think the best conflict resolution to deal with these disagreements is the student body. I have a great working relationship with all three ASCMC Presidents, so that will help too.
Michael: Disagreements are a good thing because it allows for a variety of different perspectives. To determine which perspective is right, we should get other Executive Board members involved, for example, DAC or SAC, so we can have a broader perspective. The most important thing is thinking of the student’s perspective and what the students want. It is not necessarily what we want, but what the students want. We need to engage students, gathering feedback through an anonymous survey or through Facebook. We should be representing the students and doing things that matter for them.
Aseem: I think I have a good mutual respect with all three ASCMC Presidential Candidates. There are three sorts of disagreements: 1) The private sort of disagreement can be resolved by thinking of the student rights and beliefs, 2) The public sort during Executive Board meetings. When I was on Executive Board, I had to work hard to reform club funding through extensive disagreements and discussions. Discussion, however, leads to better results. I will make sure not to compromise on your beliefs or good governance.
Question 3: Why might someone decide not to vote for you? And how would you address these concerns?
Michael: I am not your typical type of candidate for office since I am more shy, so students might not think I’ll put myself out there. I think this makes me an important candidate. I will stand up for what I believe in and what the students believe in. When I bring up my position and the students’ position, I am not going to compromise. Who I am means that I am going to think thoughtfully to fight for things that matter.
Aseem: Living in Jordon last semester was tough to keep in touch with students at CMC. That being said, I said to myself when I went abroad, “I’ll be back.” I’m ready to pick up where I left off. This is the second year online voting will happen. As Marks President, I worked hard to organize social events. As a Senator, I have been working hard on pushing new ideas and new reforms. When I came back, there were over 300 new kids on campus. I’d like to get to know everyone a little bit more. I have institutional experience with what ASCMC was three years ago. I refuse to compromise on your beliefs. I’m back and ready to work harder than ever.
Will: People look at my ideas ($100,000 ASCMC endowment) and think they’re too far-fetched. People want to see results that will affect them. I am taking baby steps that will give specific deliverables. You want full transparency on ASCMC. Our website earlier this year had no transparency. I went through and redid the website. These small changes lead to the large changes. If we can slowly raise $100,000 for the ASCMC endowment, we can make a huge difference.
Question 4: What structural or procedural changes would you make in Senate?
Aseem: Senate is really close to my heart. It hurts to see a broken Senate. There were constitutional amendments made earlier that don’t face the problems we face today. You lose participation if you limit Senate only to those that have the time to show up. Our system for voting for things is broken; we vote by dorm, which means that change takes a lot of time to occur. We needs resolutions to be encouraged because it’s hard to push things forward otherwise. This is why we need to have a submission system online. Three required Senate meetings to become a Senator limits interaction for students.
Will: Senate has the potential to be the change-making force on campus. It is really accessible for any student to go to Senate and speak their mind. Structurally changing Senate involves reaching out to Senators and identifying their individual passions. Standing committees focused on topics like sexual assault and diversity could help address issues head-on to make sure people can be empowered as leaders.
Michael: I’ve been through two Senate structural changes, so I have seen the direction of changes over time. We need to ensure that Senators take action. We want Senate not to be a rubber stamp on Executive Board. We need to make sure that Senators elected are really representing their dorms, for example, by reporting back to dorms. Having resolutions written online is really important. I will work with a group of Senators to write resolutions and empower students to make the changes that they want.
Question 5: What do you think is a key issue on campus right now? What would you do to address this issue?
Will: A big issue on campus is community. Sometimes students feel displaced. They don’t feel that they belong to CMC’s party scene or the club scene. We are trying really hard to find a community at CMC, whether that be through clubs or through Senate. We have $300,000 in capital through Senate that we can use in programming and improving student life.
Michael: Sexual assault is a serious issue on campus that a lot of people were not concerned with previously. ASCMC helped sponsor talks like Jackson Katz. It is important for men to take a stand against sexual assault. We need to take action on this issue as a community.
Aseem: One of the things that is left out is the idea of inclusivity. The social scene is great for people that want to party really hard on Thursdays and Saturdays. I like having fun, but I would like to have a great time in other ways, with other options. Students feel alienated because of limited options. We should bring back the Jim Nauls fund so that people have more options to have fun.
Question 6: Who of the Presidential candidates would you work best with (only choose one)? Why aren’t you running for President?
Michael: I know Ben the best from working with him on Executive Board, helping him set up parties with him every week. If anything, this debate made it harder for me to choose who to vote for President. As a sophomore, I think a junior would be better suited for President with more experience on campus.
Aseem: When I came into this election process, I realized that running for ASCMC President would be aspiring towards a title. Things I want to change in ASCMC are better suited for Vice President. When I looked at the people running for President, I saw them with larger goals.
Will: Freshman year I was on ABC Committee, sophomore year I shifted to Executive Board with a focus on the finances, leading to the culmination of Vice President, more so than a President position. As a sophomore, I’m still too young for the Presidential position.
Question 7: How do we bring more people to Senate given its low barrier of entry?
Will: We need to give people a cause to rally behind with active voices leading standing committees. We need to reach out to students who are passionate with changing elements of campus, so that we can push towards long-term change.
Michael: My simple solution is to make Senate do things that matter. Senate is a great way to get more involved in ASCMC, which is why I’m involved too. We need to facilitate resolution writing to ensure changes actually occur.
Aseem: Dorm Senators should be much more formalized, involved in the actual leadership of Senate. The first thing that needs to be done is passing more resolutions. We need to have less barriers to entry without the requirement of 3 meetings to become a Senator.
Michael: I want to see an ASCMC that makes a difference in our school. People aren’t sure what people can do in ASCMC and what ASCMC currently does. We need to make Fridays a thing, we need to reform Senate to make peoples’ voices heard, we need to stand up to the administration to make sure our voices are heard. I’m running because I want us to make a difference.
Aseem: I care about CMC. I came here because I didn’t want to compromise on the quality of my education or my social life. I want to leave a legacy. I want to carry on and push on a legacy through Senate. I don’t want to compromise.
Will: I have a track record of being proactive with ASCMC, taking the smallest details to fruition. You really have to pay attention to the small details. My track record is proactive and I will not stop to serve you.
Disclaimer: This is not an exact transcript. If you have any questions, please be sure to reach out to the candidates directly.