Matt Weir / The Collegian
Candidates running for the 2010-11 Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) president engaged in a formal debate Thursday afternoon to a crowd of nearly 50 people.
ASI presidential candidates Alex Andreotti, Cody Madsen, Cole Rojewski and Pedro Ramirez laid out their plans at the March 18 debate in the Free Speech Area before students vote in next week’s election.
The debate began at 1 p.m. and lasted roughly an hour and a half, with candidates answering a series of questions ranging from topics on improving communication with students to unifying the student body.
The ASI presidential race is a perennial battle, but rarely has it seemed more important than this year, with the candidates faced with shaping public perceptions at a time when massive budget cuts and a faltering state economy has hit higher education.
Rojewski said that his decision to run for ASI president was born out of frustration with the current administration.
“I’ve always been more of a backseat person, but I’ve become so frustrated to a point where I have to take a front seat,” Rojewski said.
Andreotti, who currently serves as the executive vice president of ASI, said that her two-year experience in student government makes her an ideal candidate.
“I’ve been through three different administrations and presidencies throughout my time at Fresno state,” Andreotti said, “and I’ve learned what works and what hasn’t. I’ve seen the rough patches and I’ve seen the successes. I know if picked for presidency next year I would be able to pull from the administrations from the previous years.”
Ramirez, however, saw it differently.
“We have been here for three years and have seen nothing. Nothing has gotten done,” said Ramirez, a political science major and ASI senator at-large for parking and safety. “Why would you want to run for another position again? Why would the students elect you again?”
On several of the issues, the candidates shared similar answers, particularly on the interaction between students and ASI and club funding. When asked how they plan to advocate for higher education and unify students’ voices, both Andreotti and Rojewski pointed to the Lobby Core program, a lobbyist organization affiliated with the California State Student Association, as a potential benefit to students.
Despite a likely reduced budget for next year, the candidates all agreed that improving student involvement with ASI was essential to improving the current academic landscape.
“Fundamentally, all decisions should involve the students,” Madsen said. “The way I see that going is that ASI maintains a shared governance model.”
Elections for student government will take place March 23-25.
Watch The Collegian’s recap video of the debate here.