Recap of the ASBSU 2021 Election Debates

On March 17, 2021, The Arbiter hosted The Associated Students of Boise State (ASBSU) Debates. The debate was conducted via Zoom and consisted of the five elected positions in ASBSU. 

Graf Kirk and Soren Witter were the first to debate, both running for vice president of Academic Affairs. 

Kirk is focused on pursuing academic excellence and leadership while being respectful of students.

“My job is to ensure that we are representing our students. Not just in classes, not just with faculty, but with those outside factors as well,” Kirk said.

Witter is most focused on enhancing Boise State’s quality of education.

“We’re all paying thousands, upon thousands of dollars to be here and we all deserve to have the best education possible,” Witter said. “I want people to hear Boise State and not just think of the blue turf.” 

Running for Vice President of Student Organizational Affairs, Kayla Magana, is the only candidate running for the position. Her campaign focuses on increasing student engagement within the student body. Magana previously held this position in the fall of 2020 after she was elected to be Interim President of ASBSU. 

“I think the biggest thing I learned was that I learned how to grow my communication skills, my understanding of how to communicate with different students and how to navigate those difficult conversations,” Magana said. 

The next candidates for Vice President of Inclusive Excellence (VPIE) were Sara Mandura and Grace Burgert. 

If elected, Mandura plans to talk with health clubs, discuss racial disparities and how Boise State can better tackle COVID-19 on campus.

“The biggest thing I can think of is reaching out to students specifically instead of waiting for them to come talk to us. Just knowing that we have the students on our side when we talk to Boise State about these things, I think is crucial,” Mandura said. 

Burgert wants to focus on prioritizing educational conversations with Boise State and developing skills for students to use after graduation. 

“As for education, I think that’s a discussion, again, we’re going to have to have with the university and be working with them and trying to find a way that we can prioritize it,” Burgert said. “It’s important for the development of individuals for when we go out into the workforce and have to deal with multiple types of people.”

The final candidates to debate were those running for ASBSU president and vice president. During the debate the candidates were asked what types of initiatives they would build upon or change in the current ASBSU administration. 

Presidential candidate Kenneth Huston and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Smith want to better support students through accommodating basic needs and counseling services.

“We’ve gotten away from actually supporting students. We want to invest in our campus partners and in the existing partners on campus,” Huston said. “We have to find ways to support our student’s basic needs and then we need to invest into counseling services.”

Presidential candidate Eric Kline and Vice Presidential candidate Solenne De Tassigny plan to improve ASBSU’s fundamentals and expand access to student funds.

“We need to make a change. We need to improve the fundamental aspects of ASBSU. It needs to operate on a level we expect from Boise State. It’s just not doing that right now,” Kline said. “We also need to expand access to student funds; we want to make sure when money is spent by ASBSU it’s not towards just organizations that ASBSU legislatures are a part of.”

Presidential candidate Jacinta Rigi and Vice Presidential candidate AJ Mayer believe ASBSU needs to be more transparent with students.

“Transparency is a huge thing,” Rigi said. “I think if people want to see change, then they have got to vote differently than in the past. I think AJ and I are here to build on change and allow voices to be heard. We’ve definitely strayed from the core purpose of what ASBSU is for, which is advocating for students. We are no higher than them, we are students ourselves.” 

Another topic brought up during the debate was what specific Boise State issues each team would approach the State Board of Education with if elected. 

If elected, Huston and Smith would bring attention to open education resources (OER) through better online textbook resources, decrease food insecurity across campus and enhance mental health resources. 

“There’s three main things we would want to bring to [the State Board of Education]. They’re going to be OER, food insecurity and mental health resources,” Smith said. “Students are struggling right now and we don’t have those resources available for them.”

Kline and Tassigny would focus on improving Boise State’s approach to sexual assault on campus through ensuring safety on campus and adopting comprehensive programs to educate students on sexual assault and violence. 

“I believe [sexual assault on campus] is an absolute pertinent issue that has to be addressed. Right now, Boise State’s current approach to sexual assault on campus has everything to do with being reactive and is in no way, shape or form proactive,” Tassigny said.

If elected, Rigi and Mayer would focus on communication with legislators on increasing Boise State’s budget. 

“We need to work together with the school board and legislator as a team because right now we’re clashing on all levels, and that’s one of the reasons why the legislator is threatening to pull funding. We need to work together and find out how we can compromise and not lose funding,” Rigi said.

Elections will begin Monday, March 22 at 12 a.m. and end Tuesday, March 23 at 11:59 pm. Results will be sent in a student-wide email on Wednesday, March 23. The ASBSU election debates can be viewed on the Student Media YouTube page.

[From left to right – Top: Sarah Smith (vice presidential candidate), Kenneth Huston (presidential candidate), Ashley Clark (moderator). Bottom: Taylor Rico-Pekerol (moderator), Solenne de Tassigny (vice presidential candidate), Eric Kline (presidential candidate).]
Screenshot courtesy The Arbiter

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