Student Government vice presidential candidates debate campus topics and platform points

Student Government vice-presidential candidates on stage at the debate Feb. 11. All three candidates discussed their platforms and campus topics.

Cassie Lehmann

With the Student Government election cycle barrelling forward, vice presidential candidates debated, discussing various points and their proposed initiatives for campus.

Three candidates were on the stage: Jacob Schrader, senior in economics and political science; Joshua Hanyang, senior in management information systems; and Daniel Eisenstein, sophomore in management information systems.

All three candidates are running with a presidential running mate, who will debate later in February.

Campus climate and diversity and inclusion

The first set of questions related to Iowa State’s campus climate and diversity and inclusion.

When asked about Iowa State’s current campus climate and what improvements could be made, Schrader addressed the lack of cultural competency training.

“Every year we see mistakes, from jokes that are in completely poor taste, if you want to call them jokes, that just wouldn’t happen if people would know better,” Schrader said. “And I think that our platform has other ideas, that cultural competency training is really important because it captures that the students here are all over the state, all over the Midwest, all over the country and all over the world we need to know how to work together to make Iowa State one community.”

Following that, the topic of the chalking policy and the restrictions that come along with it came about and Schrader and Hanyang expressed interest in changing the policy, but Eisenstein said that he disagrees with the policy.

“We can not discriminate, we can not selectively erase what is written based on its contents or how bigoted it is, no matter how appalled it makes me feel, we can’t do that,” Eisenstein said. “But I also believe that we should allow students to erase whatever they choose to, that being said, I have the right to speak, you have the right to try to shut me up.”

Continuing with a similar discussion about discrimination, the debate moved towards recent racist and xenophobic instances at Iowa State with Hanyang highlighting the issue in his campaign, the vice presidential candidate touches on the lack of action by Student Government.

“We want to be out talking to students about these issues right from the get-go, even more proactively than this fall, we want to be tabling with our constituencies for senators and understanding student concerns so that these issues are called for before they even occur,” Hanyang said.

Student wellness and sustainability

Candidates were then faced with questions about student wellness and the accessibility of the programs. All candidates expressed interest in making the wellness on campus easier to access. Schrader specifically addressed that students should know about the programs, but also know how to use them.

“We do have resources on campus, we need to make sure they are adequately staffed, we need to make sure students know about them,” Schrader said. “Making sure that students that need them are able to use them.”

Student Government retention and transparency

The debate then moved onto its third topic of the night, Student Government retention and transparency.

Focusing specifically on the declining enrollment at Iowa State and how a smaller budget then follows for Student Government, candidates were asked how they would address the matter.

“How do I plan to address a smaller budget?” Eisenstein said. “Well you can start by saving money. And on the topic of retention I would like by making the meetings a lot faster, if you couldn’t tell I am a very concise speaker.”

Following the internal matters trend, the point of how the potential vice presidents ensure that incoming senators are active within their constituencies was brought up.

“That’s the job of the next speaker and vice speaker, as the current vice speaker I took that as my job that we need to make sure senators are engaged, going to their constituencies, and we kinda stopped letting things slide,” Schrader said. “That’s why I think we have seen Senate more engaged this year and I’m so willing to sit down with the next vice speaker.”

Furthermore, candidates were questioned on how they would promote awareness of Student Government’s role and encourage student engagement.

Hanyang said he is already taking action and it is important to do so.

“It starts with being a student, going into your classes and talking about your roles outside the academic world,” Hanyang said. “The day that the chalking policy came out for example, I instantly messaged my constituency counsel, one of my multicultural groups and my friends, so they were aware of these things right when they came out.”

Platform questions

Coming after the topical questions, candidates encountered specific based questions focusing on them and their campaign platforms.

The Barnes-Eisenstein campaign was asked about a statement Eisenstein made on the Oct. 30 Student Government meeting when Students Against Racism sat in.

“Why would they care about an honor-based weapon restriction that, let’s be honest, they’re committing murder, I don’t think they would care too much about being expelled from this institution anyway,” Eisenstein said during the meeting.

Eisenstein said he believed what individuals can do legally off campus, they should be able to do on campus as well.

“My opinion is if you can legally engage in [an] activity off campus, you should be legally able to do so on campus as well,” Eisenstein said. “I would like to see a point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ exemption for say, Ames residents that use CyRide to commute that need to travel through campus without stopping. I think they should legally be able to carry a firearm with them.”

The Fritz-Schrader campaign is proposing an Income Shared Agreement, which would be an alternative to students taking out loans to pay their tuition. The program would offer the ability to receive funding through an agreement in which students agree to pay back a set percentage of their post-educational salary over an established number of years.

Schrader said the idea is intended to assist with college affordability.

“This is something that improves college affordability, we want to make sure Iowa State is at the front of this trend,” Schrader said.

The Greene-Hanyang campaign proposes a change in the Diversity Credit Requirement from three to six credits in hopes to reduce campus climate issues.

“We want to maintain that this kind of change will address the campus climate issues,” Hanyang said. “We want to have these conversations that students understand others from different backgrounds. We want to make sure it’s put in a way students aren’t taking more classes than they would necessarily need.”

Tying it up

Following platform questions, candidates were asked questions that were previously submitted by audience members and Iowa State students. Each candidate responded to a variety of questions ranging from more platform questions to questions about their past.

Moving forward with the election cycle, the next debate will be Feb. 25 and be between the presidential candidates.