VP candidates speak out on campus issues


Katina Zentz

Vice Presidential candidates address questions on campus issues during the UISG VP debate at the Shambaugh Auditorium on March 22, 2018. The candidates discussed their strategies in bettering student life and how to improve university programs. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

University of Iowa Student Government vice-presidential hopefuls convened for a debate in the Main Library Shambaugh Auditorium on Monday evening.

RELATED: Four campaigns announced UISG candidacy

The candidates, Student Collective’s Marshall Payne, Envision Iowa’s Lucee Laursen [a DI columnist], Surge’s Heath Schintler, and Empower Iowa’s Nate Robinson answered questions about affordability, justice and equity, health and safety, and more personal questions.

The questions started off with handling the matter of financial hardship in light of the expected tuition increases as a result of state budget cuts.

RELATED: Iowa Legislature sends funding cuts aimed at UI, ISU budgets to Gov. Reynolds

Laursen proposed a tuition freeze, meaning the tuition freshmen see would be the same as their tuition as seniors.

Schintler said affordability goes beyond just tuition and proposed looking at textbook costs and expanding the Food Pantry.

The candidates offered different perspectives on where student-activity fees would be better allocated. Laursen and Robinson discussed how funding for student minority groups have trouble getting funding. Laursen said Asian community groups received only $500 over a year in funding. Robinson spoke from experience how organizations for students of color have trouble seeing funding.

“Many times students of color and their groups go under the radar,” he said. “Everyone deserves to have their passions and cultures highlighted on campus.”

Schintler and Payne expressed interest in helping groups that work with the community.

All four of the candidates spoke out against the recent vandalism promoting white supremacy on community murals and symbols of unity.

“The university represents a community, and as a community, we can’t have hate become a backbone,” Payne said. “So if anyone does these acts, we need to find who’s responsible and remove them from campus as quickly as possible.”

He advocated a zero-tolerance policy on those acts and proposed a constituency seat for Muslim students, a group he found to be among the least represented, to help educate the community and prevent hate crimes from occurring.

“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different identities on this campus,” Schintler said. “It should be our duty as a representative body at the University of Iowa that we represent as many of those identities as possible.”

The candidates also tackled the issue of sexual assault on campus. One in 5 female students have faced sexual assault on UI campus, according to the most recent Speak Out survey of 2015, to which only 9.3 percent of campus responded.

RELATED: UI gets little response in misconduct survey

Laursen said that as a sexual-assault survivor herself, she related to the experiences of other survivors. She advocated for more resources toward services such as Nite Ride to make sure students get home safely at night and include the greater Iowa City community, such as local business owners, to take the It’s On Us pledge.

“I know just how difficult that can be and how unsafe you feel everywhere you go,” Laursen said. “I think that what we can do here is set a standard for how people should be handling sexual assault for the rest of the state, the rest of the nation, and the rest of the world.”

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