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Senate forum questions candidates’ financial responsibility and experience

At the ASUW Student Senate forum, Board of Directors (BOD) candidates focused on the issues of senate relations, financial responsibility, and experience.

The candidates answered questions from moderator Negheen Kamkar, who is the current senate vice chair. Senators were also given a chance to ask candidates their questions.

All the candidates were present except Ryan Vogel and Kim Chung, of the Connect UW ticket, who missed Monday’s Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and Student Advisory Board forum.

Bill Dow, who is running for vice president on the Progress UW ticket, argued the BOD as a whole needs to be more accountable to the senate. He is currently serving on the board as director of policy and procedures and said he served senate interests all year. Ada Waelder, who is running for director of university affairs on the Progress UW ticket, agreed with Dow.

“I want to make sure that the relationship between the board of directors and senate is as open and transparent as possible,” Waelder said.

Fred Ness, who is running for president as an independent, took a different approach to dealing with senate. He advocated reforming senate by eliminating membership and allowing any student to participate and vote.

Many of the vice presidential candidates focused on the ASUW’s budget. Alex Fraser, who is running on the Purple Roots ticket, argued the ASUW should be run like a business. Fraser is currently serving as treasurer for the Interfraternity Council. He said he is qualified to work with the ASUW budget because he is currently managing a $200,000 budget.

“I think as the vice president, you’re the chief of staff and CEO of ASUW,” Fraser said.

An audience member asked the vice presidential candidates whether they thought the ASUW Experimental College should be a net-zero organization — not costing the ASUW any money — or if it should be funded by the Services and Activities Fee (SAF). Right now, more than $27,000 of the SAF funding ASUW receives goes to the Experimental College. All of the candidates said that it should be net-zero, but they had differing opinions as to the idea’s feasibility.

Desiree Hanssen, who is running for vice president on the Husky Impact ticket, said that with some restructuring, the Experimental College can become net-zero. She said the organization needs to offer more one-night classes since students are too busy to take advantage of longer-term ones.

Fraser agreed the Experimental College needs to be restructured. He thinks that the organization’s marketing strategy needs to change, saying the Experimental College is marketed to a general audience when it should be marketed to students. He promised that if elected, he will make the organization net-zero by the end of next year.

Dow disagreed with Hanssen and Fraser about the feasibility of making the Experimental College net-zero by the end of next year. He said the BOD has worked for decades to achieve this, but there is still a lot of work to be done. He called Hanssen and Fraser’s promises “pipe dreams.”

The presidential candidates mainly discussed their experience and qualifications for heading ASUW. Dillon Berrey, who is running on the Purple Roots ticket, said although he doesn’t have much experience with the ASUW, he is motivated and doing everything he can to learn. He plans on emulating current ASUW President Conor McLean and his style of participating in senate. He wants to “participate but not sway senate’s opinion.”

Presidential candidates Michelle Nance, running on the Progress UW ticket, and Evan Smith, running on the Husky Impact ticket, talked about their years in the ASUW. Smith said he became a senator his freshman year to make the UW campus seem smaller. Nance said she enjoys participating in government and sometimes goes to Olympia three times a week to advocate student interests.

The last question of the forum asked presidential candidates what big mistakes they’ve made in leadership positions are. Smith said not asking for student opinion; Berrey cited a mistaken signature on a purchase order in high school; Nance didn’t give a direct answer; and Ness said he’s never been in a leadership position before.

Reach reporter Amelia Dickson at news@dailyuw.com.

Twitter: @ameliadickson

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