By Anna Edlund
Candidates running to fill a multitude of Associated Students positions next school year, including president, answered anonymous questions from their peers at a town-hall meeting Tuesday, April 12. This is the first time such a meeting has occurred on campus and was put on by Western Votes, a nonpartisan civic engagement group.
Questions ranged from thoughts on divestment to personal qualifications, with the bulk of them pertaining to diversity and marginalized students.
Victoria Matey is one of three candidates running for AS Vice President of Diversity and spoke to the importance of mending race relations on campus.
“One of the most important things we need to do is have dialogue,” Matey said. “And not dialogue that promotes hatred or anger, but stepping back and really talking face-to-face, telling someone your experiences and building that connection.”
Candidate for AS Vice President of Student Life Wayne Rocque also spoke out about the need for campus inclusion.
“The most effective way to deal with campus unity is to first invest in the marginalized communities on campus,” Rocque said. “If we engage in conversations that help liberate students of marginalized identities, only then will we see some sort of unity. Because until then, Western will be a broken campus.”
“Our AS is not transparent enough and it’s way too bureaucratic.”
Vice President of Business and Operations candidate Mary Moeller
Freshman Henry Pollet attended the event and said added access to candidates went to show how qualified each one is, which will make for a competitive election.
“I think it’s great that we have this, and I wish that there was a lot more of it going on so people have more of a view on how the process is working,” Pollet said.
Fellow freshman Merril Hunt-Paez also attended the town hall, and hopes to see more students — specifically freshmen — get involved in the future.
“I don’t think that a lot of freshmen really know that this is going on,” Hunt-Paez said. “There is emphasis on the social media aspect. Some of the Facebook groups and pages seemed pretty good, and people were talking about it and really excited. There was a good turnout for that.”
Vice President of Business and Operations candidate Mary Moeller made her feelings about the current AS known, which went hand-in-hand with why she herself wanted to run.
“Frankly, a lot of people don’t even know what this position does,” Moeller said. “That is a problem. Our AS is not transparent enough and it’s way too bureaucratic.”
AS President candidate James Molyneux-Elliot agreed with Moeller.
“I wish that there was a lot more of it going on so people have more of a view on how the process is working.”
Freshman Henry Pollet
“Most people don’t know about AS and most people don’t participate,” Molyneux-Elliot said. “We talk about advancing resources for people who feel marginalized, and that’s hard to do when most of the people aren’t even listening or partaking. Part of that is election reform, and part of that is increasing student government; that’s on the board of trustees and legislative action.”
A vice presidential forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, April 14, and a presidential forum will be held on 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 20.