UVUSA debate takes Centre Stage

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It was an hour of tension, drama and surprise, particularly for the candidates who were under fire from the moderators and the audience. The most shocking moment in the debate was when Jared Stirland, one of the four presidential candidates and the news editor for The Review, withdrew his name from the race.

“I never wanted to be president,” said Stirland in his opening statement. “I put my name in to prove a point and try to create some awareness around mental health and student fees and try to get some student engagement.”

After pulling his name from the race Stirland got up and exited to stage, receiving a standing ovation from the other candidates and members of the audience.

The debate started with a Q & A session involving the two unopposed candidates, Lauren Ashton who is running to become vice president of Activities and Tanner McAllister who is running to become vice president of Academic Senate.

“I’d like to work on building school pride,” said Ashton. “As well as creating inclusive events for our diverse student body.”

McAllister said that he is running on the idea that each student needs to be advocated for.

“The way I’m planning on doing that is by soliciting students for their opinions and for their ideas before making any decisions on my own,” said McAllister.

The debate between the candidates for vice president became a little more heated with both parties clashing on Jensen Astle’s campaign move to endorse and use the same publicity as other candidates, despite Astle’s vote to abolish teams.

Her opponent, Taylor Wilson called it “deceiving” because, “It gives the illusion of a team. There’s no way around that. You walk down the hall, you assume a team.”

Wilson is one of only two candidates running for an office who is currently not a member of UVUSA, and would be the first-ever graduate student on the council.

“I’ve been able to develop leadership skills as well as life lessons that will help me bring a fresh and outside perspective to student government, as someone who hasn’t been on student government before,” said Wilson.

Astle touted her experience planning events like True Wolverine, Mr. UVU and Open Mic Night.

According to a Facebook post by Josh Brown, a UVU student who attended the debate, “For me, the clear winner was Taylor Wilson, and I’d be excited to see what he does as Executive VP next year. Jensen Astle seemed like a really fun person though, and I definitely want to go to one of her parties.”

After Stirland dropped out the three remaining presidential candidates had a turn to battle out the issues. High on the list of topics were student fees and mental health services.

Wendy Trujillo is not a current member of UVUSA and called them out for being a clique, saying, “We don’t need cliques on this campus. We need student government to go out and associate themselves with other students.”

During his rebuttal Phil Varney, current executive vice president, said, “The reason there’s this sort of ‘clique’ brand on UVUSA is because we spend hours and hours working together. Unfortunately that does look like a clique from the outside, but we do remain open to any student.”

Trujillo’s professionalism came under fire from the audience when two separate students asked why she was checking her phone during the debate. She became a bit flustered and stated that she had “some stuff going on.”

When Varney was asked what initiatives Team One had failed to achieve, he dodged the question, listing the things they had achieved. Trujillo offered him another chance to answer the questions before she began her rebuttal and he again listed his achievements.

“I know that I have the resources. I know I have the experience to make this university even greater,” said Varney during his closing statement.

Birch Eve, the senator for the Woodbury School of Business, has the idea of a textbook rental center where you can check textbooks out, study with them, then leave them there.

“I’m not here for the title,” said Birch. “I’m not here to take credit. I’m not here for the perks. I’m here because I’ve had the opportunity this past year to sit down with students and to really see what one voice can do.”

Varney has acknowledged on several occasions that Birch was able to help him resolve an issue, acting as his senator.

Voting opens Feb. 29 and closes on March 2 at 4 p.m. Students can vote using UVlink or by going to uvu.edu/uvusa/vote.