Student senate debate helps college get to know candidates

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Student senate debate helps college get to know candidates

KATHYVAN TRAN, Associate Editor

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The proposed student fee increase, student government stipends and the possibility of keeping Luria Library open 24/7 were topics of interest during Thursday evening’s debate that featured all the candidates running for top student government positions.

The Channels Editor-in-Chief Alyssa Durant and News Editor Julia Pizza co-hosted a debate alongside student government titled “We The Students: Candidate Debates” Thursday evening in Administration Building Room 211. The debate featured all the candidates running for positions of president, student trustee and vice president of external affairs. The Associated Student Government election was the first of its kind to be held in the history of all City College student government elections.

The event opened with Secretary Shahazard Breedlove singing the Star Spangled Banner. Outgoing president Dylan Raiman also made opening remarks on the proposed constitutional amendments and fee increases to be voted on next week.

Student trustee candidates Parker Mitchell and David Panbehchi began the debate by discussing the trustee’s position as liaison between the Board of Trustees and students.

Panbehchi, who serves as Commissioner of Events, said he wanted more students to be involved in student government. He cited the fact that the board voted for student tuition for nonresident students to increase with little student input.

David Panbehchi, running for student trustee.

Michaela Wahlstroem
David Panbehchi, running for student trustee.

“There are decisions being made that students had no idea about,” Panbehchi said.

Panbehchi also addressed his support for student officer stipends in that they would leverage representation by inviting low-income students to want to serve on the student government.

Mitchell said he opposed the stipends, and that he wanted to eliminate the Student Trustee’s stipend. Or, if he is voted in as trustee, that he would donate his stipend to the SBCC Foundation.

“You shouldn’t need motivation from a salary to serve students,” he said.

In an interview after the debate, Mitchell said he was also opposed to the student fee increase, and that the student government should prove to students how it can serve as an effective body before it can even discuss an increase.

When the question turned to federal government, flyers with a printout Facebook post from Panbehchi were passed out to audience members that showed that he did not believe that Assad was involved in a chemical weapons attack against Syria.

“What the job requires is clear, level-headed thinking,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think my opponent has that.”

Maite Nieblas, Tamara Lulendo Mosolo and Matthew Esguerra, the three candidates running for vice president of external affairs, discussed their qualifications, experience and goals for the position.

Maite Nieblas, running for vice president of external affairs.

Isabelle Sinibaldi
Maite Nieblas, running for vice president of external affairs.

Nieblas said she was qualified for the position because of her prior leadership experience and knowledge with her high school, where she helped to implement sustainable energy projects. She hopes to implement the same projects at City College and plans to fight for the rights of students who are immigrants.

Mosolo, an international student, made it clear that she wanted to be a voice for international and nonresident students at City College, who make up roughly 13 percent of the student body. She said her multicultural background will help her to see solutions in different ways to help her reach her goals.

One of Mosolo’s goals is to focus on the fee increase for nonresidential students.

“It’s not just like, $100. We pay a lot,” she said.

Esguerra, who serves as co-commissioner of marketing, said that he would serve as a diplomat for City College on a statewide level, and that in the summer he would be working in a full-time legislative position to help him prepare for this role.

Esguerra discussed Assembly Bill 10, which would require college bathrooms to provide feminine hygiene products. He said he wants to draft a board policy for City College to implement this legislation by Fall 2017—for both women’s and gender-neutral restrooms.

“Santa Barbara City College is the hallmark California Community College,” Esguerra said. “I don’t see why we’re not the most progressive college.”

Candidates for president are Charlotte Donnay Rochard, Imran Akram, Zora Mihaley and Cristian Walk. The candidates shared a common desire for students to get more involved on campus and with the government, as well as the need for student officers to listen to students more.

Charlotte Donnay Rochard, running for student senate president.

Isabelle Sinibaldi
Charlotte Donnay Rochard, running for student senate president.

“We have so much on this campus,” Rochard said. “This is amazing, [but] we can do better. We can do more.”

Rochard, who is a vegan, said she wanted to establish more vegan and affordable food options on campus.

Akram said he wanted students to get open access to the gym as well as create more opportunities for students to tutor. He also said that if the fee increase were to pass, that he would spend the money on supporting clubs and setting up more events.

Mihaley praised many of Raiman’s initiatives as president, including creating more commissioner positions, establishing commissioners as the heads of student committees and starting a monthly newsletter to inform the student body of government happenings. She said she wants to continue and improve upon these efforts further and expand student inclusiveness.

“You want [students] to feel like they were a part of something, something that was greater than themselves,” Mihaley said. “Right now, even though we’re trying so hard to be more inclusive, we’re not.”

In an interview after the debate, Walk said while he believes it’s helpful to get outside perspectives for student government, that it may not help when it comes to the presidency due to the academic procedures the position requires.

“The president needs to listen to outsiders but needs to come from the inside,” said Walk, who serves as commissioner of academics. “I have the institutional knowledge to put these goals into action on day one.”

At the end of the event, all candidates were invited onstage to answer questions prepared by audience members on index cards.

Voting is done through Pipeline and will be from 8 a.m. Monday, April 24, to 4 p.m. Thursday, April 27. Election results will be announced at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 27.

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