USU Student Body Presidential Debate 2021

Summary of the debate:

During Wednesday’s debate, candidates for president of the Utah State University student body addressed issues of campus exclusivity, tuition fees and a disconnect between USU students and the student government. of the USU.

The debate was moderated by USA Administrative Assistant Dexton Lake.

“These questions will be tough, and they are meant to be,” Lake said. “These are actively some of the most difficult questions we have asked in a debate. “

The current candidates for the student body presidency are Lucas Stevens and Erik Fogth.

Segment 1: Candidate platforms

During the first segment, questions were raised about the weak points of the candidate platforms.

Speaking to Fogth, Lake asked about his platform to increase “inclusion” and participation opportunities for students. Lake stressed that this platform closely mirrors the proposals of previous candidates.

“There is nothing wrong with taking a platform from a former president,” Fogth said. “That’s not to say that all of my platform comes from past presidents, but I think there’s nothing wrong with continuing instead of reinventing the wheel.”

Fogth said he wanted to create a program called “Aggie Mentors,” a program where students already involved with USUSA could mentor others and give them more opportunities. He also said he wanted to create an Aggie Heroes scholarship initiative.

Additionally, Fogth has denounced what he believes to be the “elitist third-floor culture,” or the exclusivity of participation opportunities for students who are not already part of the USA.

Lake asked Stevens about his platform, which says Stevens will advocate on behalf of all students while building on his experience as the current executive vice president. Yet Stevens also said that while his door is always open, he is not an event planner, indicating that students have to find him if they want anything done.

“Why is it the student’s responsibility to come to you,” Lake asked. “How do you plan to do things differently from what you did last year?” “

Stevens said the president and executive vice president have different roles. He said the role of the vice president is supposed to be more bureaucratic.

“I would appoint a good public relations and marketing manager to reach the students,” Stevens said. “It’s their job.”

Stevens was also asked about the steps he has taken to promote inclusiveness over the past year.

Stevens said he tried to make sure students in general have diverse backgrounds. He also mentioned that he participated in a statement about the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Audience member directing a question to candidates

Segment 2: Current Events and Issues

The second segment focused on registration fees and the restructuring of registration fees.

Lake asked Stevens how he would approach any fee restructuring and, if he was in that position, what student fees or fees he would reduce.

“There is a big learning curve with every position as you enter,” Stevens said. “I won’t say that I know everything about every fee, but there will be less of a learning curve when it comes to making proposals on possible reductions.”

He also mentioned that the fees have remained stable this year and that it is expected that they will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Stevens said he previously suggested considering the tech fee as a possible reduction. During the January fee board meeting, a technology fee decrease of $ 1.60 was proposed for unused computers.

Fogth has indicated he would like to reduce athletics fees, as only 400 students can attend each game under COVID restrictions.

Lake asked what he would say when the athletics department argued it was unreasonable because track and field makes so much money for the university.

Fogth said there would be income as he would suggest students who wish to go buy a discounted ticket. USU games are currently free to all students due to registration fees.

He also said the main issues facing the USU, outside of COVID and mental health, are lack of opportunity, lack of community and lack of retention.

Stevens said his main concerns with the university were academic, financial and security challenges.

During the segment, Fogth attacked Stevens’ position and said he never really accomplished anything as an executive vice president.

Stevens responded and said he spent a lot of time in leadership meetings last year, while advocating for students.

Presidential candidate Erik Fogth at the USU presidential debate

Segment 3: Personal questions

During the final segment, candidates were asked how they would deal with disagreements with President Noelle Cockett and disagreements with voters.

Fogth said he would respect Cockett, but if he felt this was something the students really needed, he would move forward and find processes to appeal their demands.

Stevens said he would rely on logic and not let things get personal with Cockett.

“It’s really about the students and keeping the students in mind,” he said. “I really think that’s Cockett’s intention, and it would be mine too.”

Stevens was asked how he would handle disagreements with his fellow officers and students. He said it was important to have a greater social media presence to connect with students and to use student media to help disseminate information to students. He then said that after distributing this information, meeting with the students would be key. His hope is to follow the example of the current president of the student body, Sami Ahmed.

Fogth said his plan was to create a firm for his director of public relations and marketing. The firm would be tasked with getting USU’s top “social media influencers” to connect with students.

During the segment, Lake answered a question about Fogth’s perceived lack of professional conduct. Fogth said he has a lot of experience dealing with professionals, including taking initiatives.

“It doesn’t have to be a bureaucracy,” he said. “People don’t have to be a great elusive leader to be successful. “

Lake also asked Stevens why he would be a good president, based on his experience alone, when Ahmed had served for two years with no previous experience in the United States.

“I don’t think being a vice president is necessary to be a president,” Stevens said. “But, at the same time, someone who really knows what’s going on and who’s been in that job is really a plus for the students.”

The debate ended with questions from students and closing statements.

* Election polling stations closed at 8 p.m. Thursday evening. The results will be available 11 a.m. on Friday morning.

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