Members of The People slate answered questions about campus safety and group affiliations at Tuesday night’s election debate sponsored by the Pre-Law Association, while the Connection Slate opted not to participate.
Following candidate questions, most of the forum focused on Senate Bill 5-B, which would eliminate the use of student fees to fund the Daily Lobo.
Sen. Steve Aguilar, vice-presidential candidate for the Connection slate, said he and members of his slate did not participate because they did not agree with who the panelists were or the atmosphere of the debate. He said Tuesday night’s audience was not as diverse as it would have been had the ASUNM Election Commission organized the event.
“The people who are here already know who they are going to support,” he said.
The panelists were Brian Eagan, a member of the Pre-Law Association and the College Democrats; Ryan Rice, a member of the College Republicans; and Amanda Zubiate, a member of the Pre-Law Association, who coordinated and mediated the debate.
When Rice asked what the candidates have done and will do for campus safety, Sen. Tim Serna, the presidential candidate on The People’s slate, said that students need to encourage University safety employees to work on the issues because that is what they are paid to do. He said the University focuses too much on buying blue phones and not enough on the core issues of safety. He said a blue phone cannot help a woman who is getting raped out of its reach. Serna added that he has not attended any safety meetings.
Sen. David Padilla, the vice presidential candidate on the People slate, said he feels unsafe on campus at times and tries to walk people to their cars so they are not alone in the parking lot.
“Not like I could really do anything, but at least I could try,” he said.
Padilla said the University should analyze its financial situation and statistics to find the best solutions for campus safety.
Serna said statistics are not always accurate because victims do not always report crimes.
When Zubiate asked the candidates if affiliations are important, Serna said affiliations are personally important but should not completely bias decision-making.
“We should carry our affiliation proudly but erase the lines that divide us because of them,” he said.
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Padilla said affiliations help to spice up the University experience.
After the panelists asked their questions of the candidates, Sen. Grant Nichols, finance chairman who is up for re-election in the Senate, and Iliana Lim¢n, Daily Lobo managing editor, were given 10 minutes to share their sides on Senate Bill 5B.
At the beginning of his speaking time, Nichols erased part of the chalkboard agenda that said “Daily Lobo vs. Grant Nichols” and re-wrote it to say “Daily Lobo vs. student organizations.”
Nichols said the bill is an act to increase the amount of money to student organizations and decrease the amount of unused money that goes to the Daily Lobo.
He emphasized that all student groups have to go through some kind of budget process to attain funding from ASUNM and all groups have to be held accountable for how they spend their money.
A member of the audience asked why Best Student Essays and Conceptions Southwest will not have to go through a budget process if the bill is passed since the amendment states that the magazines will automatically receive 3 percent of student fees.
Nichols said that the magazines rely on the money, do not have a rollover account and can show the Finance committee where their money goes.
Lim¢n, said ASUNM’s contribution to the paper is like an egg that is spread throughout a cake — hard to see but necessary to the finished product. She said the paper is accountable to its audience and unifies the University, which is primarily a commuter campus.
Nichols indicated on his sheet that the Daily Lobo will have $400,000 by the end of this year for emergency funding. He said all student organizations have to give extra money back to ASUNM and that the Daily Lobo should not be an exception to the funding process.
Lim¢n said the Daily Lobo is a business that has built up the $400,000 in case of revenue problems or a recession.
“It’s what insures that students will receive this paper daily,” she said.
UNM student Julia Maestas said she came to hear the Connection’s point of view and was upset that members of the slate did not participate in the debate.
“They cut themselves short,” she said. “They really did.”
Maestas said she learned more about both sides of Bill 5B.
“I don’t think the Daily Lobo should be cut completely cut off, but I think there should be some kind of accountability,” she said.
Zubiate said she was happy to see new faces at the debate, though she would have liked to have seen more people. She said the debate was unbiased and she would have been fair to both slates had they both participated.
“Every question that I posed to The People I would have posed to the Connection,” she said.
Aguilar said he does not think his campaign will be affected by his lack of participation in the debate. He added that The People candidates handled themselves professionally.