UISG presidential candidates debate university issues

Audience+members+listen+at+the+UISG+Presidental+debate+at+the+Shambaugh+Auditorium+on+March+22nd%2C+2018.+%28Sid+Peterson%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29

Audience members listen at the UISG Presidental debate at the Shambaugh Auditorium on March 22nd, 2018. (Sid Peterson/The Daily Iowan)

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UISG presidential candidates debated hot issues, like saving money for students and the UI, as the election draws nearer.

By Brooklyn Draisey

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University of Iowa Student Government presidential candidates gathered in Shambaugh Auditorium Sunday night to debate campus issues and policies.

Envision Iowa’s Bridgeen Lynch, Student Collective Party’s Dady Mansaray, Surge Party’s Hira Mustafa, and Empower Iowa’s Ben Nelson answered questions about their goals, academics and student engagement, contentious issues on campus, and affordability.

Lynch replaced Kyle Apple as presidential candidate after the latter removed his name from the ticket on March 23. Apple withdrew his candidacy following the resurfacing of a controversial social-media post of his.

The debate started off with questions about the candidates’ top initiatives to implement if they were elected.

Nelson said Empower Iowa’s experience will help them help with making school more affordable for students, not just with tuition.

“Ultimately, the important thing that we’re seeking to address is that affordability isn’t just one issue and that it is multifaceted and contingent on your existence here at the University of Iowa,” he said.

Mustafa, Mansaray, and Lynch all said increased representation for students not involved in the past is a focus of their parties.

Mustafa said the Surge Party is hoping to create more constituency seats for first-year students.

“I want to ensure that every student at the university knows about the resources offered to them,” she said.

The presidential hopefuls gave their ideas on sustainability and making their ideas last longer than the one year they would be in office.

RELATED: VP candidates speak out on campus issues

Lynch wants to implement a bike-rental system for students, and she said publicizing goals and getting students involved will keep policies going after the term is over.

Mansaray said saving power with vending machines and computers that aren’t being used will save everyone money in the long run, making them last a long time.

“We would like to save the university money, which will save students money with this initiative,” he said.

Candidates had varying ideas when it came to off-campus issues, such as food insecurity and affordable housing.

“I think the University of Iowa Student Government needs to work closely with the city to make sure there are further bus routes so that those housing options further off campus that might be more affordable for students are more accessible,” Lynch said.

Mansaray noted food insecurity as the worst problem off-campus students face and said his party plans to roll out a program for students to take food out of the dining hall and bring it home after hours.

Mustafa and Nelson differed on the issue of rental caps. Mustafa said rental caps downtown hike prices for students and advocated for their removal. Nelson, however, said rental caps keep landlords from cramming students into unhealthy living environments.

“We have not adequately combated renting caps,” Mustafa said. “Renting caps are putting limits on housing areas downtown to limit the number of rental properties you can have, which puts a limit on the number of areas students can rent out.”

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