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USG vice presidential candidates talk initiatives

By Sten Spinella
On March 5, 2014

Elections for the Undergraduate Student Government are taking place from Mar. 5 - Mar. 10, and UConn students will have to account for the Vice Presidential nominees.
David Rifkin, a 4th-semester Business Management major, and Claire Price, 6th-semester Pathobiology major, are opposing candidates for the position of Vice President of USG. Price's running mate is Mark Sargent and Rifkin's is Carlyle Bethel.
In his freshman year Rifkin was named Rookie of the Year and garnered the position of Deputy Speaker.
"My USG experience has had a huge impact on me," Rifkin said. "I was freshman class senator last year and this year I was sophomore class senator, and my colleagues saw that I had ambition and that I would rise up in USG. USG has some of the brightest minds and best leaders on campus."
Price is already an accomplished comptroller, and spoke to how that will translate in the office of the vice president.
"My time as comptroller has given me a lot of insight on how USG can focus on issues effectively and ineffectively," Price said. "Since I've been comptroller, I've already balanced out the next two fiscal years in my mind."
The allocation of the over one million dollar budget is a top priority for Price. She outlined specific initiatives, including building a storage facility for groups like the outing club on the Depot Campus for their equipment and revamping the Safe Rides program, which is coming back next semester.
Part of the job of the Vice President is to "supervise, evaluate, hire, and terminate all student employees," according to Price and Rifkin have similar views on this aspect of the position.
"We're [the VP is] the liaison between the student workers and USG," Rifkin said. "Student workers don't get enough credit behind the scenes, and the Vice President has to be there for them."
Price said she would conduct interviews for new members,and that if she had to act as a disciplinarian she could because when it comes to work, it's all business for Price.
Transparency and communication is the campaign platform for Rifkin, who seeks to "unite diverse students and work to communicate with students and administration in order to bridge that gap," he said.
"USG puts out a lot of information but it isn't well-received," said Rifkin. "Students are interested when something affects them directly. Carlyle [Bethel] and I want to implement senator outreach programs to get communication out and here feedback. We also want to remodel the USG website, increase online communication, and hold more town meetings."
With regards to cultural centers, Rifkin stressed unity. He suggested increasing the influence of cultural centers through increased channels of communication. He expressed a wish to combine cultural centers into one voice.
Price said that it is important to work together with cultural centers, and that they're "strong on their own, but if USG works together with them, both organizations can improve."
The two VP candidates both believe in increased transparency and communication, but they have different ideas on how to achieve this.
Price had her own ideas about better communication and transparency with the student body.
"Mark and I would create a Communications Committee which would be in charge of transparency and relaying information to the students," Price said. "We would stay away from bulletin boards and posters in exchange for digital photo frames and video blogs."
Sexual assault, a contentious issue on campus, is important to both candidates.
Rifkin admitted that the large number of recent assaults on campus is a product of campus culture, and again highlighted communication in combatting assault. He hopes that the student government will give the issue attention and expand from there.
Price spoke to a few specific goals.
"I would like to personally work on the relationship with students and police, because right now they [students] feel like the police are against them and some police officers view students negatively," Price said. "I am working on an event with President Courchaine right now and would like to develop a Blue Light app, as well as construct more lights on campus."
Rifkin, who sees himself as a big-picture thinker, expressed a desire to improve the funding system, most notably by simplifying the process. Price's top priority is also changing the funding system.
The two candidates appealed to the voters when asked how they envisioned their role as VP.
"Carlyle [Bethel] and I are ready to take USG to next level. The Vice President needs to be seen as a leader within the student government, and the Vice President needs to be ready to spearhead a lot of initiatives."
Price spoke to her relationship with her running mate, Sargent.
"I'm Mark's rock, he's called me that before. I act as a nice, stable foundation, all the while having my own initiatives. We work side by side rather than separately," Price said.

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