You asked, they answered

Students submitted questions at Tuesday’s president and vice-president candidate debates, but they only answered two before time ran out. The Vanguard tracked the candidates down and got their views on the questions you didn’t get to ask.

Klute / Johns

Morse / Bufton

Campbell / Herrera
Considering each of your involvements in student groups, how will each of you set aside your personal biases to represent all students? Ryan Klute: I feel like my experience at PSU in the last four years has been vast enough that I understand the concerns that the multitude of the student population has on this campus. But I am only one person. That is why I have chosen to surround myself with students that have come from a variety of different backgrounds. I have experienced in the last three and half years that the biggest concerns that people have about Greek life is that we are all a bunch of traditional 18-year-olds who are looking to party and who are white. But the Greek community at PSU is actually as diverse as the PSU student body at large. For me it’s not an issue. But there have been times in the past when student leaders have overstepped their boundaries. We shouldn’t go in with an agenda on how to fund student groups. If that’s why someone wants the job, they shouldn’t be running. Everyone should get a fair shot in the process. I think there are things in student government we can do with the constitution to create checks and balances. The process should be fair and equitable to everyone. Mario Campbell: I believe that my track record on the SFC and as chair of the Smith Advisory Board show that I am unbiased when it comes to policy.Mayela Herrera, my running mate, comes from the left side of politics and I am the president of College Republicans. Our diversity of thought provokes new and innovative ideas. I am running with someone with a different background because I am open to everyone’s views and input.Mayela brings progressive thought to the table and I bring conservative thought, and I believe this is a representation of all students. The other presidential candidates lack this diversity and use their slates to make up for it. The difference in background is what makes us stand out from the other candidates and brings both sides of a debate to the table.
You all talk about real solutions. Walk us through a campaign. The best example I have is the continuation of the PSU web site campaign. Last year, myself and a few others in ASPSU launched, PSU’s very own professor evaluation web site. We found the funding, built and launched it less than a year ago, and it now has over 10,000 ratings and reviews. This is awesome, but we must go further. I would really like to see institutionalized within the university, which means that I am confident that I am going to convince the university to take on this web site, to put it in Banweb and make it explicitly accessible so that when students are picking classes they can have very easy access tied into the registration system.There is precedent set at other universities and we need to motivate and organize students to help us allow the university to understand this is a vital service that students will not be without. And I’m sure this will start with the requisite meetings, but then will blossom into a full-fledged grassroots student campaign. Let’s take our diversity platform [to establish more diversity studies programs at PSU]. The first step is to put pressure on the administration. You have to organize students around the issue. We would form coalitions with student groups and students of color. We would also have forums and media panels to elevate the issue. Second, we would design a program and create deadlines for accomplishing goals. We would then present that plan to the administration, after we’ve already built coalitions and raised the profile of the issue.We need a service to translate and update PSU resources into all of the languages spoken here. That would cost money but we could work with local businesses that do translation, or get volunteers from the international scholarship program. The funds could come from ASPSU, or we could get volunteers, or businesses could donate time to the project. For instance, we would accomplish creating a permanent student position on the City Council by fall term. We would set up meetings with faculty, because faculty ultimately have a say on what happens on campus. And because of my involvement in the community I can reach out to the City Council as well.
Many students are still dealing with many problems due to Higher One. Do you think that negotiation is dead? What will you do about Higher One? The negotiation is not dead. Higher One is on this campus and will most likely be on campus until 2009 when their contract is up for renewal. But my goal is to make their time here absolutely awful. Simply with education, students will realize that Higher One is the worst possible choice on this campus to use for their financial services. When their contract comes up for renewal in 2009, everyone, students, administration and especially Higher One will want out of this contract. Negotiation, in our opinion, is not the best way to deal with the situation. We want to work with the administration, but to demand rather than negotiate is a different thing. Part of the solution involves research, and part of it involves getting the message back out. We need to figure out if we can get out of the contract right now. If we raised the student fee by $4, we could buy out the contract. It would be a short-term hardship that would provide a long-term solution. But we wouldn’t do something like that without consulting students first. I would also use basic recruitment and grassroots skills to get students researching the issue and coordinating a campaign. This issue is not dead, but negotiating is not our style. I believe that the negotiation of the contract with Higher One is dead. We would work with orientation to get the word out on how to inform students on the concerns that the student body has about Higher One. Right now we have to pay $10 extra to get a different card, that is something we can work towards eliminating to give students alternatives.
How do you feel about the student fee going up $30? Student groups are the lifeblood of university. They hold the semblance of the community that we have on this campus. I’ve been involved in student groups since day one. Attending this university as a member of student groups and as a leader of student groups, I believe that while increases are necessary in the fee process to allow new groups to bring programming and existing students to increase their outreach, those advancements need to be taken very seriously by the Student Fee Committee. It doesn’t seem to me congruent, with students advocating for financial access of all students at this university, to give some groups 500 percent increases and rubber stamp approvals on others. The SFC must critically evaluate every budget to strike a balance between student leadership opportunities on this campus and the ability for all students to attend higher education. We should be accountable to our student fee, but student groups are growing here and are providing great resources to students. Rather than worrying about $30, why not focus on a real affordability campaign and get tuition lowered?Student group budgets do not fall directly under the president or vice president, but they should ensure that the budgeting process is fair. I don’t like it. I think it could have been avoided to a certain extent by reducing food costs at meetings and promoting more collaboration between student groups just like Mayela has done with the Roots Festival.
What are your thoughts about Sodexho? Do you support the right of workers to organize, and what can ASPSU and students do to support social justice for labor issues like this on our campus? I am very disappointed with Sodexho on our campus. I am both disappointed with the history of their business practices internationally and I am unhappy with the monopoly they hold on this campus forcing students groups and students to purchase their sub-par products. I do support and encourage workers to unionize and student government can lend the support they have with organizing skills and getting the word out as best they can. Sodexho must learn that they are part of this university community and their practices and beliefs must fall into congruency with the students on this campus. So far I have been disappointed for the majority of what I’ve seen. The Portland Park Blocks are a large community with many other food providers, and I’m confident that if Sodexho can’t meet the needs of students at PSU, the student government would be more than willing to help market and work with a variety of other vendors to assure real student choice. Sodexho is an example of how the university is moving to a business-like atmosphere and not including students in important decisions. I know students who worked for Aramark and are now unemployed because of Sodexho. We didn’t include it in our platform, but we would foster organization among student groups on the issues they care about. It all comes back to administration accountability. We’d like to tackle the heart of the problem so situations like this don’t keep happening. Putting biases aside, Sodexho is a company that students voted to have on campus. Because students were involved in the process of hiring Sodexho, it was their will to have them here and I support their choice.I do support the right of workers to organize because that protects the workers’ rights.Right now I am working with Sodexho to help show the students who they are and what they’re about, and how they support the local student population in their work ethic. Through showing the students these things, this will allow students to get more involved and come out more vocally with their concerns.