Coming Friday: The Colorado Daily’s guide to the CU Student Government elections.
University of Colorado Student Government candidates spent nearly two hours talking about how they plan to represent the student body at Tuesday night’s debate, but for some students it wasn’t enough.
Fourteen candidates running for five representative-at-large seats discussed their goals as a proxy for the student body. But students said there were left wondering if the candidates were all talk and no action.
“I thought they would have been more prepared,” said Hannah Ekman, CU architecture junior. “Last year, the answers were more factually based. This was a lot of vague information.”
The candidates, divided into two five-person tickets and four independent candidates, answered questions about the duties of the position and current issues facing the student body. They also took questions from students during an open forum portion of the debate.
The debate began with candidates promising to represent the needs of students.
Larissa Armand, CU junior and independent candidate said it’s not enough just to talk to student groups but to ask “regular students” what they would like to see.
The debate questions brought up issues such as student safety, diversity and the allocation of student fees. There was almost no debating between candidates on the topics as they continued to discuss their campaign platforms and personal goals.
Brittany Hallett, CU freshman and independent candidate, said she wants to increase funds to enhance student safety, including more lights on campus and extended night ride hours.
Campus diversity was a passionate topic for both candidates and the audience throughout both the debate and open forum.
The audience cheered as Ryan Bettcher, a CU freshman and independent candidate, said he would work with multicultural groups to create a “community of Buffs” instead of a segregated student body.
Renee Roberts, CU sophomore and ReFresh candidate, said campus diversity will only grow with increased opportunities for students of all ethnic and social backgrounds.
“We’ll touch the roots of problem with affordability, accessibility and increased opportunities for diverse students,” Roberts said.
But the diversity debate continued as international students like Funmi Oyatogun told candidates they feel “left out on campus” and “unrecognized by the university.”
“What can make education more accessible to international students and make us feel more a part of community,” said Oyatogun, and environmental studies student from Nigeria.
The Excel ticket candidates said cost center services are for all students — including international ones — while the ReFresh ticket candidates said they would want have to talk to more students to understand their concerns before offering up a solution.
The Excel ticket tried to ease students’ minds about the cost of student fees by promising to make CUSG’s $36.6 million budget more transparent.
“If we increase the efficiency of our cost centers, then we will save money and improve our budget,” said Tyler Goering, CU junior and Excel candidate.
Robin Kalsbeek, CU junior and independent candidate, said frivolous spending of student fees was a main concern.
“I think it’s a waste of money to buy textbooks that I never even use for class or to go talk to an adviser who didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know going in,” Kalsbeek said. “There’s a lot of cuts that could be made to put the focus back on education and other things students are truly passionate about.”
An estimated 115 people, including several students, attended Tuesday night’s debate. That’s a large increase over the four students who showed up for the debate last fall, according to CUSG election commissioner Danielle Warly.
While the turnout was an improvement over previous years, CU junior Mara Mackillop was not impressed.
“It’s sad that in a school with thousands of students, they could only get this many people to show up,” Mackillop said. “They really need to do a better job of marketing these events. This is a big deal that really impacts students but they don’t seem to know it.”