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ASUA holds first elections town hall with Cultural Centers

Presidential+candidates+Anna+Woolridge%2C+Natalynn+Masters%2C+Amos+Sepkowitz%2C+Stefano+Salt+Saltalamacchia+and+administrative+vice+presidential+candidate+Kate+Rosenstengel+wait+their+turn+to+answer+a+question+at+the+first+ASUA+candidate+forum+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+15.+
Rocky Baier
Presidential candidates Anna Woolridge, Natalynn Masters, Amos Sepkowitz, Stefano “Salt” Saltalamacchia and administrative vice presidential candidate Kate Rosenstengel wait their turn to answer a question at the first ASUA candidate forum on Thursday, Feb. 15.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona hosted its Primary Elections town hall on Thursday, Feb. 15 in partnership with the UA Cultural Resources Centers. 

The candidates for executive offices—president, executive vice president and administrative vice president—presented their platforms and addressed diversity issues on campus. 

The candidates discussed how their platforms supported under-represented students at the UA, with all the candidates speaking of reaching out to those students to give them a voice. 

“It’s about getting those conversations going and creating those relationships,” said ASUA Presidential candidate Natalynn Masters. “Because you’ll never know until you talk to someone.” 

          RELATED: ASUA Notebook Nov. 29: Senators change election codes, fund Pride Alliance

The candidates then addressed how to raise awareness about the UA sitting on the indigenous lands of the Tohono O’odham nation. All agreed it was a little-known fact about the UA, and that educating people about it is the first step. 

“I think it’s just raising awareness,” said ASUA Administrative Vice-Presidential candidate Shawn McCarthy. “Letting people know and finding ways that we can appreciate that and making sure that the university is appreciating that on its own and making our students aware that we are on tribal land.” 

The idea of mandating Safe Zone training — a program administered through UA LGBTQ Affairs— was discussed, as well as other ways to raise awareness of the LGBTQ campus community. For ASUA Administrative Vice-Presidential candidate Kate Rosenstengel, it starts with the people in power. 

“People that are in these positions of power in ASUA needs to know what it means to respect pronouns, need to know what it means to be respectful of people that identify as LGBTQ-plus,” Rosenstengel said. 

They also discussed how to retain LGBTQ-plus students of color through connecting them early to people just like them. 

“When you find a club or an organization that you can associate with or belong with or really connect with, then you’re much more likely to stay on campus,” said ASUA Executive Vice-Presidential candidate Matthew Rein. 

          RELATED: OPINION: ASUA elections worth consideration

The candidates discussed how to prevent sexual assault on campus year-round. Part of the discussion involved educating Greek Life. 

“We have programming in Greek Life,” said ASUA Presidential Candidate Stefano “Salt” Saltalamacchia. “And the folks in Greek Life laugh, or throw paper, or make a mockery out of it. It’s a joke to them.” 

Another line of questioning addressed simply changing the climate of sexual assault around UA.   

“We also need to create a culture that makes sexual assault and things of the like not the norm,” said ASUA Presidential candidate Anna Woolridge. 

The candidates discussed how to work with the cultural centers without imposing on them. They all agreed that being good listeners and education between the two entities could work. 

“I think as student representatives, our jobs would be to open the window and to be listeners,” Rosenstengel said. “So, it’s not our job to come up with ideas and pass them down to you and say ‘hey, do this.’ It’s our job to listen to what you want to see happen.” 

          RELATED: For members of BLACK community, displacement anything but easy

The candidates also discussed the benefits of students who live in Living Learning Communities through Housing and Residential Life. They agreed that the communities are good retention programs and keeping them together. 

“I want students to have the resources to be able to come together,” said ASUA Presidential candidate Amos Sepkowitz. “And I think this comes back to my piece of trying to establish meditation centers around campus and trying to get people resources to be happy and to find fulfillment and to find joy in other people’s presence.” 

Presidential candidates Anna Woolridge, Natalynn Masters, Amos Sepkowitz, Stefano "Salt" Saltalamacchia, and administrative vice presidential candidates Kate Rosenstengel and Shawn McCarthy listen to executive vice presidential candidate Matthew Rein answer a question at the first ASUA candidate forum.
Presidential candidates Anna Woolridge, Natalynn Masters, Amos Sepkowitz, Stefano “Salt” Saltalamacchia, and administrative vice presidential candidates Kate Rosenstengel and Shawn McCarthy listen to executive vice presidential candidate Matthew Rein answer a question at the first ASUA candidate forum.

The final topic focused on support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. All of the candidates agreed that funding for DACA students to stay at UA, lobbying the Arizona Board of Regents and holding the UA administration and regents to their commitment to those students. 

The ASUA primary elections will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20 and Wednesday, Feb. 21.  Following the primary elections, there will be two more debates leading up to the general elections, which are held on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and Wednesday, Feb. 28. 


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