For those who aren’t burnt out on democracy after last November, there is an election going on this week for the Associated Students Inc. student government at Cal State Long Beach.
And I hear what you’re thinking: who’s running? What do they want to do? Why should I care?
The candidates themselves tried their best to answer those questions when they gathered on the campus’ free speech zone during the ASI Executive Candidate Forum last Thursday at noon.
Hosted by Micayla Vermeeren, Editor in Chief of the Daily 49er, and Matthew Gozzip, Athletics Editor of the Union Weekly, the forum saw six candidates hash out their promises and plans as well as answer questions during the hour-long session. It was simulcast on KBEACH radio and through the ASI media department’s online “Newsreel.”
Six candidates were present: Presidential candidates Dale Lendrum and Daniel Gomez, Vice Presidential candidates Kenia Duarte and Joe Nino and Treasurer candidates Edgar Morales and Jonathan Wanless. Not in attendance were Alan Parkes, who is running for vice president, and Samuel Kim, who is running for treasurer.
Gomez, Nino and Wanless are running as a slate called “Moving Forward Together,” and Lendrum, Duarte and Morales said they were running together in a slate that did not yet have a name.
After introductions, Vermeeren and Gozzip posed a series of questions to the candidates, while also facilitating questions from members of the roughly 25 person audience.
The opening query focused on issues related to crowded parking lots at CSULB. Several solutions were offered – Lendrum focused on setting forward a path to building a parking structure, Gomez advocated for the installation of parking space counters and Wanless focused on expanding and promoting the TAP card program to provide free bus transport.
The next issue posed to the forum was about security and comfort plans for different communities attending CSULB. Duarte focused on connecting freshman and transfer students to more campus resources, while Nino was critical of the Student Advising, Orientation and Registration program.
“We’ve all done it before – I’m talking about SOAR – it’s just not enough,” Nino said. “As a transfer student I went to SOAR, and we learned about a lot of things, but how much are you going to retain [from] that?”
After a question from the audience regarding political division under the Trump administration, Gomez took the floor to respond.
“To address your question: in no way will we ever tell you to not speak about what you feel is right,” Gomez said. “That is not our place as student leaders. You’re in the middle of a free speech zone, as a matter of fact. But as far as ASI is concerned, we’re going to represent and speak to the needs of students and what they need from us.”
The final question from the moderators centered on budget and revenue issues while meeting the needs of CSULB students. Duarte and Lendrum want to petition the state government for more funding, while Gomez, Nino and Wanless addressed the need to fight against rising tuition. Morales focused on trying to address the needs of housing insecure students by organizing local efforts.
The final portion of the forum consisted of a series of questions from the audience. Gomez responded to a question regarding the proposed tuition increase with a series of planned actions to freeze tuition and reform Proposition 13. Lendrum addressed a question about how to resolve domestic violence and sexual assault drawing on his personal experiences with domestic abuse, revealing that he was once a victim as well as an abuser.
“Two years ago I became an ally in the fight,” Lendrum said. “I volunteered to be a guest speaker at events to combat sexual assault. I told my story of what it was like when I was a drug-induced perpetrator of domestic violence and began talking to the men. To try and get them to understand that it’s about us understanding what we need to do in our role in stepping up and taking responsibility for our actions.”
Current ASI vice president Logan Vournas challenged the panel what they were planning to do in support of queer and trans students on campus.
“It’s just a matter of pushing for the resources, pushing for gender-neutral bathrooms and just advocating for the students,” Duarte said. “To keep fighting. I’m undocumented, so I’m going to keep fighting for those students just like I’m going to keep fighting for the queer community.”
After Nino responded to a question from an international student about their tuition with a plan to enact new scholarships, the forum was soon concluded by the moderators.
Voting for the ASI Elections begin today and will run until Wednesday. For more information, check your CSULB registered email, and if you would like to view the Executive Forum in its entirety, it can be seen on the CSULB ASI YouTube channel.