DASB presidential candidates debate issues
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Candidates agreed on the vast majority of issues in a DASB presidential debate Feb. 23, emphasizing the importance of outreach to students, open dialogue between senate members, and resolving the disconnect between DASB and the administration.
“It was two and a half hours of disappointment,” Joseph Lawrence, 19, business major, said. “I came here expecting a debate and what I got was three people saying very similar things over and over.”
The De Anza Political Revolution club hosted the first ever De Anza debate between presidential candidates at the Fireside Lounge. Around 80 students attended the debate, moderated by Umika Kumar, 20, sociology major; Neil McClintick, 20, political science major; and Viana M.L. Roland, 23, history major.
Accorrding to Kumar, the action team within the club that hosted the debate is called ‘Reclaim Democracy.’
“It essentially focused on the debate, the vote days for DA student elections, and promoting student engagement with campus government,” said Kumar. “Student engagement in campus elections is key because DASB controls such a large budget.”
Despite the DASB having a budget of $1.3 million to fund different programs, voter turnout in the last elections was 3 percent. Kumar said the debate was organized by energetic student volunteers who cared about student governance, with no help from the administration.
Three of the four candidates attended: Carlos Duran, 19, nursing major; Rhozen Panahi, 18, biology major; and Cialysiah Washington, 19, political science major. The fourth candidate, Dylan Kim, 21, business major, declined to attend.
The general concerns section began with questions about each candidate’s vision, followed by more specific questions regarding student safety, library access, parking, and the quality of professors.
On safety, Panahi suggested having security cameras on campus to help deal with hit and run incidents, and sexual assault. Duran stressed that emergency phones need to be functional and that he would attend campus police meetings to voice student concerns. Washington was concerned with the disconnect between the police and ethnic groups on campus and suggested having open panels and dialogue to resolve it.
The second portion of the debate featured questions from students in the audience, leading to controversial answers and raised eyebrows from the audience.
Duran was questioned about his running mate Andrew Salinas’ political views. He was asked if Salinas was a Trump supporter and how Duran feels about his conservative views. Duran said that there is no evidence that Salinas is a Trump supporter and that it is impossible to know that because Salinas refuses to divulge that information.
“That’s impossible for me to know and that’s impossible for you to know because being involved in the military it prohibits you from sharing who you support in politics,” said Duran.
Duran said that Salinas assured him he will not push his political beliefs, and that he wants to be a representative of everybody.
Panahi said the anti-Semitic posters are not free speech because they are a hate crime, and should be treated accordingly. “You’re emotionally harming someone else,” said Panahi.
Washington and Duran agreed that it was free speech, but disagreed on how to deal with the posters. Washington said that she would have taken them down instantly after taking photos to prevent the posters from hurting students who might see them.
Duran said when he found the posters he contacted the administration to make sure the situation was dealt with lawfully. “The first thing I wanted to do was take down those posters but I wanted to make sure that I’m following all regulations or rules,” he said.
The candidates were asked to comment on candidate Kim’s absence. Duran said, “I’m here because I want to represent the students. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t think it’s important.”
“I think it’s completely disrespectful to the students to be honest,” Washington said. “You’re just not gonna come here because you think it’s a waste of time?”
Panahi said, “I honestly think it’s his loss, this is definitely beneficial to students and to us to be able to create a dialogue.”