USG presidential candidates debate
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 1, 2013 00:03
The candidates for USG President went head to head at the Joint Elections debate last night, where they divided on issues such as what policy initiatives should be focused on and what their administrations would focus on.
At the Joint Elections debates, the candidates for the Undergraduate Board of Trustees Student Representative and candidates for USG President, vice president and comptroller met. The most floor time was given to Shiv Gandhi and Edward Courchaine, the candidates in the running for student body president.
Gandhi, the current speaker of the USG senate and a junior molecular and cell biology major, with his vice president running mate and current USG senator Mark Sargent at his side, said his focus, if elected, would be to lower the cost of attending UConn.
“We know we can’t set tuition rates,” Gandhi said. “But we can implement structural changes that can actually lower the cost.”
Gandhi said he plans to work with UConn’s Academic Affairs committee to make it mandatory for professors to disclose what textbooks will be used for a class before students enroll so that students have the option to choose classes with lower textbook costs. Gandhi said he also wants to reform meal plans to make flex passes convertible to points.
Courchaine, the current Comptroller of USG and a junior biophysics major, said he wants to focus on “increasing the value of the UConn degree,” and not “silly issues like laundry.”
“Our main goal is to improve the academic environment,” Courchaine said. “We want to increase the transparency of your tuition dollars, and strengthen relationships between students and faculty.”
Courchaine, whose running mate is USG senator Kara Googins, said he wants to implement a process by which student and faculty can engage in discussions and reach decisions on how to solve on-campus problems.
John Giardina, a junior economics and molecular and cell biology major, is running for USG comptroller against sophomore pathobiology major Claire Price.
Price is running as a USG outsider. As the CFO of the UConn Dressage team, she said she was motivated to run for comptroller when she was frustrated with USG’s funding process after having to go through it herself.
“Coming from outside USG really gives me a different look on how USG goes about its policies,” Price said. “I know the difficulties of the funding system and have ideas of how to improve it.”
Price said her main goal is to make sure student organizations understand the complex USG funding process and how they can apply for funds as well as make changes to the current funding system.
Giardina, the current funding board chair who helped implement this year’s new funding process, defended the system, saying that they have “implemented new policies that are even more fair.”
“A lot of people like the old system, but it was broken,” Giardina said. “We were constantly running out of money. The policies are never static.”
Giardina said it is his years of experience with USG and understanding of the complexities and demands of funding policies that makes him the right choice.
Michael Daniels, a junior political science and economics major, faced his opposition, Jared Kaufman, a sophomore geoscience major, for undergraduate representative for the Board of Trustees.
Daniels, the current chair of the USG External Affairs committee, is running on his experience in knowledge.
“I have the knowledge of local issues like water supply and the financing of Mansfield and UConn to bring to the table,” Daniels said.
Daniels said he has been working at the capital and at UConn since his freshman year to push for more funding for UConn and boasts a “strong working relationship with many administrators and elected officials.”
Kaufman, however, said he is running on being a “political outsider,” a title he’s proud of.
“I can bring a new voice to the board of trustees,” Kaufman said. “I’m a very approachable and accessible guy, and I think that’s what makes me right for the job.”
The debate marked the beginning of “Elections Week.” Candidates have until voting begins on March 7 at 9 a.m. to campaign. Voting will end on March 11 at 5 p.m. The official candidates are listed on elections.uconn.edu, but campaigning as a write-in candidate is an option open to all UConn students.