Candidates for the University of Connecticut Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President debated Monday night. Joshua Crow and Jase Valle were asked about their previous experience, how they will address issues on campus and specific goals for USG.
Crow talked about his experiences in USG, as he has held the Speaker of the Senate position for two terms, while Valle has experience as a student representative for the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center and President of the UConn Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity.
“I want to allow the gates for all students to be open,” Valle said in his opening statement. “USG must empower all students.”
Crow’s opening statement demonstrated his want to handle problems unilaterally, help carry forth student ideas and bring together the UConn community.
“When people don’t feel like they’re being listened to, they aren’t going to stay,” Crow said.
The candidates had differing views on whether it would be more difficult to work internally with USG, or to connect with outside organizations.
“Problems that pop up will come from inside the organization,” Crow said.
Crow said he has hopes to implement a parking appeals assistance program, where students can submit their parking tickets to USG who will work to appeal the ticket, or initiate a parking forgiveness program. Valle questioned how well this would work.
“I personally have not seen the appeal process work at all,” Valle said. “We need to address what economic insecurity looks like.”
Mental health on campus was another topic posed to the candidates. Valle said he wants to focus on bringing in local clinics to provide affordable care, while Crow wants to advocate on the state level for funding to improve services on campus.
Funding of Tier II’s was another topic the candidates disagreed on.
“I have worked on many efforts to increase the accessibility of the funding system, one of them was the introduction of the variance policy and second chance funding program,” Crow said.
Valle rebuttaled Crow’s want to make better outlines for funding, saying it goes further than documentation.
“We really need education on funding, the funding staff should be working on education as well and letting people know how they can get funding,” Valle said.
Both candidates argued that they want to bring more outside voices into USG. Valle has little experience with USG, serving as a justice for part of one semester, but said it shouldn’t matter when you join USG.
Greek voices are also something that both candidates want to bring to the USG senate table, as well as more diverse seats.
The candidates had different plans on how to combat racism and the lack of inclusion on campus.
“We need to address racism, but also diversity and inclusion as a whole, we assume there are these issues but we need to make ourselves available to the people,” Valle said.
Crow is looking to instead bring in more people to USG to help.
“I will not bring solutions, I am going to provide people with platforms to bring in their own solutions to the problem,” Crow said.
The second half of the debate invited the Vice President candidates on stage alongside the presidential candidates. Crow is running with Alexandra Ose, and Valle is running with Guymara Manigat.
Ose said herself and Crow hope to create a better sense of community on campus.
“Community is nonexistent at this point,” Ose said. “All of the events that we have on campus, people show up for big things like HuskyTHON, but there is so much more happening on campus.”
“I do not think that there is not a sense of community. There are communities on campus, but they are not cohesive,” Manigat said.
Kanu Caplash was also a presidential candidate, but dropped out early this week, citing trouble with his campaign and other commitments.
“I’m having trouble academically, so I want to focus on the Mental Health Coalition and the momentum of it,” Caplash said. “It was a tough decision and slightly out of my hands, but I know both of the candidates and I know they will do well and I’m not particularly worried. I know whoever wins will continue the advocacy.”
Voting for all positions will be open March 3 through 5, and the ballot can be found at vote.uconn.edu.