The 2015 Associated Students, Inc. Presidential Debate took place Friday in the USU between senior ASI Executive Vice President Abigail Hudson and senior Interfraternity Council President Ralph Ruiz.
ASI Elections begin Tuesday at 9 a.m. and run through Thursday at noon. Voting is done exclusively through student email.
Both candidates participated in a question and answer style debate moderated by Jesse Franz, editor-in-chief of The Collegian.
Ruiz and Hudson began by detailing their campaign platforms.
Key issues for Hudson’s campaign include campus safety, community revitalization, improving lighting projects on campus and increasing student representation and involvement. She said that her experience as executive vice president has been irreplaceable.
“There are a lot of students involved in clubs and organizations, but a lot of them aren’t, and that’s definitely something that if we want students to be involved at Fresno State, it’s important that they get involved in those organizations,” Hudson said.
Ruiz said that his campaign has ‘been one to remember’ and a different experience for him. His main platforms for his campaign are revitalization and safety for students.
“The other two that make me stand out a little bit are relatability and durability. I know the ASI president position is a very tedious one. There’s a lot of things that are going to be thrown at you: your school, your work, and other life things at the same time.”
When asked about the issue of student fees on campus, Ruiz said that this issue really hit home. As a student who has to rely on grants and student loans, Ruiz said he works two separate jobs to make sure he is financially stable enough to participate in both school activities and extracurriculars.
He said he has used his experience with Pi Kappa Alpha and the Interfraternity Council to implement fees at an organizational level.
“When I formalized recruitment we had to implement a fee. Each fraternity has to pay $425 to cover the cost of inspections for recruitment,” Ruiz said. “At first the fraternities were really hesitant to it, and I didn’t like it, but when I put it on paper and showed them point by point what their money was going to, why we needed their money and how it was going to end up better for them in the long run, it ended up working out and having the largest recruitment we’ve ever had in the Fall.
Fees are big, but as long as the students are about them, then I support them.”
Hudson also voiced her concern about student fees, and said that as ASI president, she too would wish to be a voice for students. She spoke about her experience with the SIRF Fee, a $4 fee approved for Fall 2015 on students for the educational lobbying organization.
“In fact, when they came to ASI and explained it to us, I still didn’t see a way that it benefited students,” Hudson said. “So I went to classes and talked to students about it, and asked whether or not they would like this fee, and I got a consensus that the students could not support that fee. I would do the exact same way for other fees that would be imposed at the university level. We’re here to listen to what the students have to say, and amplify that.”
Campus safety was also a focus point for the candidates, with both speaking of increasing safety in their campaigns.
Hudson spoke about the importance of community revitalization, and said that ASI has made a difference not only on campus but in the surrounding community as well.
“I talked to Police Chief Huerta and he tells me that this is a much safer campus than it used to be, and that’s really great and means that we’re doing our job by talking to the different people on campus and campus administrators to make sure that we can do that,” Hudson said.
Ruiz, who lived for three years off campus in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house on Shaw, agreed that campus safety is an issue.
“I’m thinking more of the reality about our campus is that we do have a lot of underage drinking going on, we do have sexual assault going on, and bringing awareness to students like that,” Ruiz said.
Both candidates also spoke about the issue of parking on campus, Ruiz from a student perspective and Hudson from an administrative standpoint.
“When you have a night class that starts in the day and goes three hours into the night, you’re having to park really far away putting your car in a dangerous area. I think its a huge issue. I don’t know what we can actually do in ASI, but I know I can voice your guys’ opinions on parking to the campus heads that need to be pushed to and get the ball rolling as far as what we can do to make a difference.”
Hudson spoke of what ASI could and could not do-noting that ASI wouldn’t be able to provide ‘a few million dollars to create 2,000 spots, but through efforts like bike barns and creating a safer campus, more students can commute without taking up extra spots.
“I personally live in my sorority just like Ralph, but it’s not something I would like to walk to during the evenings after a long day of class,” Hudson said. “If there were better lights on that street or a way I could feel more comfortable walking home. Then that would be a parking spot I wouldn’t take up all day, and there are so many students who live in close proximity that drive to campus because of their fear of safety of walking home or walking to and from school. We definitely have found some ways to alleviate some of the pressure.”
Both candidates ended the debate by highlighting the key differences within their campaign.
“My biggest difference that puts me in front is experience,” Hudson said. “I have a lot of experience this year as executive vice president of ASI. It was my first year and I learned a lot. I wanted the senate to be the most effective its ever been, and I think the senators and most of ASI would tell you it has been. I set up accountability, I set up goals, and I reach those goals. I definitely have the experience that puts me ahead.”
Ruiz noted that because of the summer training process that ASI presidents are mandated to take, he would still be able to acquire the experience necessary.
“I would bring a lot of transparency being that I am 100 percent relatable to students,” Ruiz said. “I have been through all of the same situations that students have been through. Like earlier, I said I was asked to leave as ASI senator. I know students who struggle with academics. I attended S.I. sessions during the library. I’ve been in the shoes of those students and I know the feelings of students going through that process.”