Candidates for next year’s IU Student Association administration debated Thursday night about issues from the relationship between students and administrators to the IUSA budget.
The questions were written by University Chancellor Emeritus Ken Gros Louis, who also acted as moderator.
The cost of college was introduced as an issue right away, as Hoosiers 4 Solutions’ presidential candidate Casey Shelburne spoke about the subject in his opening statement.
Shelburne explained his ticket’s platform to decrease the cost of college, including a program that would encourage students to earn their bachelor’s degree in three years instead of four, an idea he stated several times during the debate.
In response to the moderator’s question about what candidates want to see at IU in 25 years, SPARC for IU’s presidential candidate Sidney Fletcher said he is afraid if tuition costs continue to rise, people will not be able to attend IU. He said to combat the cost of college, he and his running mates would talk to the Board of Trustees and advocate for a two-year freeze on tuition.
YOUniversity did not have a platform that addressed the overall cost of tuition, but presidential candidate Jose Mitjavila spoke about their plan to create an “Emergency Tuition Fund.” This program would provide short-term financial assistance to students, with funding coming from a basketball ticket raffle.
In response to the moderator’s question about the relationship between IU students and administrators, Fletcher said he felt the relationship was poor and the student voice was not being heard. SPARC wants to increase communication with student organizations instead of individuals in order to encourage unity and increase students’ abilities to influence administrators.
YOUniversity disagreed, stating there is room for improvement in the relationship between students and administrators, but that IUSA representatives could begin improving it by reaching out to administrators.
“It’s not right to expect administrators to reach out to us,” said Chris Kauffman, candidate for vice president of administration. “We have to take initiative, as well.”
Many of the solutions suggested by Hoosiers 4 Solutions, such as expanding the Lifeline Law and creating a tax-free textbook holiday, include going beyond the IU campus and administrators to work with Indiana legislators. Shelburne said although working with administrators is important, he thinks IUSA has little power beyond advocacy on campus.
“A lot of changes that are going to be made are going to be made at the state level,” Shelburne said in his opening statement.
SPARC for IU was the first ticket to bring up the issue of executive salaries. Fletcher said he and his running mates do not think they should pay themselves out of the IUSA budget. SPARC plans to invest the money in buying solar panels for use in campus buildings instead. Hoosiers 4 Solutions followed up by stating that they too would refuse executive salaries and invest the money in other IUSA departments.
Casey Baker, YOUniversity candidate for treasurer, took issue with the implication that IUSA executives were being financially irresponsible by giving themselves salaries. She said IUSA executives do not have time for full-time jobs.
“IUSA is not an extracurricular activity,” she said “Salaries require accountability to the students.”
In his closing statement, Fletcher said the debate served not only to facilitate discussion of major issues, but to highlight the differences between the three tickets.
“Behind the issues and the squabbles are three different views of student government,” he said.