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UISG senator candidates discuss

BY GRACE PATERAS | APRIL 07, 2015 5:00 AM

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UISG senator candidates tried out something new in an effort to gain votes on Monday night.

KRUI-FM presented a forum for voters and the audience to engage with two senators from each running party in the upcoming University of Iowa Student Government election.

Candidates for UISG Senate spoke to an audience in High Ground Cafe, 301 E. Market St., as well as an audience via live-broadcast on KRUI.

Mackenzie Borders and Oliver Hidalgo-Wohlleben were the BEACH Party senator representatives, and Rachel Zuckerman and Brendan Power came from the REAL Party.

All four worked together this year as OPEN Party senators.

The debate was hosted by freshman Kris Yambao, who works for KRUI. After seeing only two official debates focused on just the presidential and vice presidential candidates, he wanted to hear from the rest of the ticket.

“But I didn’t really see anything for the rest of the ticket,” he said. “I’m studying and seeing both of the platforms, but I’m not really seeing where the senators come in.

“Besides the big hitters, I wanted to see what the senators thought about their platforms.”

Topics discussed included how the party chosen would represent students of color, how the party will continue UI goals of sustainability, what the party will do to increase transparency, and various others.

Borders is running for Senate as a junior, and if elected, it will be her third year in the position. She believed the forum had less pressure than a typical debate would, and it was a good opportunity for the senators to get their voices heard.

“I’ve always been a senator because that’s where I think I belong in student government,” she said. “I want to write legislation, and I want to be a part of that body that is really active, so I’m really glad that the senators had a chance to voice their opinions and voice what really matters to them on the platform.”

Compared with a traditional debate, Power said it was unique in that it was the first time UISG was involved in a senator forum. He said the voices of senators matter in addition to presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

“I think that it’s really important that the voters get exposed to the senator candidates, because for as much as the president and VP become the face for the ticket, the senators really play a large degree of enacting what the platform becomes,” he said. “It was really important for us to give our senators face time because a lot of things being read about in the presidential/vice presidential debate are going to be carried out by senators.”

Borders said the opinions and basis of the parties’ platforms have been heard in the presidential and vice presidential debates, but the senator forum was a chance for voters to see what is important to the senators.

“In the forum, we were able to see what really matters to the senators that are running and that will support this and execute different aspects of the platforms,” Border said.

Something else new was the ability for the candidates to answer open-ended questions, Border said.

“It wasn’t as planned as another debate goes because [the audience] could ask follow-up questions to clarify things,” she said. “I think it opened the discussion a little bit more and broke down the barriers of limiting in the vice presidential and presidential debates.”

Among topics discussed, REAL Party senators were happy to get a say in their stance on sexual assault, Zuckerman said.

“That’s something [non-supporters of REAL Party have] been trying to say that we don’t value because it’s not on our platform,” she said. “We were very excited to talk about how we want to work in collaboration with other organizations doing this work and we don’t want to drown other messages by creating similar campaigns to those that already exist. Rather, we want to work with professionals who have the expertise.”

BEACH Party senators were appreciative they were given to speak about student safety.

“We really made it clear, and I know that Sam and Kolton did, too, but it’s always great to hear from the senators that our No. 1 priority is student safety, especially with sexual misconduct,” Borders said. “I think we really hit the nail on the head with that by letting listeners see that that’s what matters to us, and we want that to change.”

KRUI took Facebook and other Internet questions as well.

Both parties agreed that this forum would help students learn about the platforms, as well as gain votes.

UISG elections will be held Wednesday and Thursday through ISIS.


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