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ASWSUV elections happening now

National political polarization has become a key point of discussion on campus. In the lead up to the ASWSUV elections happening this week, candidates for executive and senatorial positions had two chances to debate. Many candidates said that, if elected, they wanted to strive to create an environment on campus in which the community could discuss political issues in a safe, respectful way, regardless of one’s political orientation.

On Feb. 21 and Mar. 1, the Associated Students of Washington State University Vancouver hosted candidate debates in the Firstenburg Student Commons. The debates allowed students, faculty and community members to get to know candidates who are running for student government for the 2017-2018 school year.

The debates outlined what students could expect from the candidates, their campaigns and how they might fulfill their desired roles.

The executive candidates, running in pairs for the president and vice president seats, include Ethan Penland and Catherine Chaisson; Naomi Grande and Jose Scott; Corrine Bryce and Brianna Lembke and Lindsay Brown and Benjamin Otto. The candidates for senate positions include Giofranco DiCarlo, Michael DeManti, Holly Varner, Ian Meck, Joseph Colombo, Raj Lamichhane, Zeke Estes and Hunter Jarrett.

Following short introductions, the panel began asking prepared questions, and each candidate had a strict two-minute time limit in which to respond. This gave candidates an equal opportunity and equitable playing field to address popular topics, issues and concerns. Participants in the debate also had opportunities for rebuttals to other candidates.

Many questions posed revolved around what it means to be an active voice for the student body, the roles of the president, vice president and senators and how they would overcome various adverse scenarios.

Many candidates responded to questions by demonstrating how past experiences brought them to the point of campaigning.

“It’s really tough to pinpoint what issues are more outstanding than others that students might face,” Otto said when asked about the greatest issue facing the administration. “But by finding who you are, not being ashamed of who you are and voicing your views to us, we can try to bridge the gap between administration and students.”

Many candidates, both executive and senatorial, said that the community should be able to engage in political discourse in a safe way, no matter where one lies on the political spectrum. Many candidates said it is imperative to promote civility and respect towards one another despite any differences in worldviews and opinions. Participants and audience members exemplified the capacity to do so during and following the event, where competitors were seen shaking hands and wishing each other the best for whatever lies ahead.

Student Scott Thompson said, “In the end, it’s a popularity contest.” ASWSUV encourages students to participate and vote in this year’s election. In the past, election winners have been determined by a single vote, so ASWSUV representatives push the importance of every student’s vote.

The polls are open online on CougSync and in-person through Wednesday. Polling stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. For more information visit the ASWSUV website at http://wsuv.orgsync.com/org/aswsuv, or email the Election Board at aswsuv.electionboard@wsu.edu.

Below is the VanCougar’s live stream recording of the debates.

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